Blake Woman - Susanna Holm
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your life so far...
My name is Sanna and I am a Londoner originally from Stockholm, Sweden. I currently live in Shepherds Bush together with my partner Mårten who’s also from Stockholm. We have been living there for 2 years and love it. I grew up in a suburb to Stockholm, close to a forest so I miss the Swedish nature a lot living in London but fortunately I work for a Swedish company so I get to go back and see my hometown every now and then. Before I moved to London I studied a bachelor in business at Lund University in south of Sweden and I also have a bachelor in fashion studies from Stockholm University. During my studies I have lived in France two times – 6 months in Paris and then 4 months in Nice, however I have lost almost all French I learned during that time… I love travelling in general and really enjoy to get away whether it be with work or for leisure! Best place I’ve been so far is southern Vietnam because of the nature, people and food.
You are originally from Sweden - how did you end up in London?
I had a plan that after I finished my bachelor studies that I would take months to go abroad and better my English before coming back to Sweden to study a Master in marketing. I got a job working as a brand ambassador for Acne studios so moved over with just a suitcase in January 2011, after 6 months however I had discovered London, the fashion industry and also met my partner so I decided to cancel the Master course and stay for a while in London…that while has now turned into 5 ½ years! I am in love with what London has to offer and even though I always say I don’t like the big cities, London always surprises with something and you never get bored. I love that life changes here constantly when you move, get a new job or meet new people… good for people like me who can get restless.
How did you get into fashion?
I think I have always been enchanted with the world of fashion.. I remember flicking through Elle and Vogue wanting to get into the life of the beautiful models and clothes. I started off thinking I wanted to write, and then do styling… after I left high school I worked for an advertising firm as a Studio Assistant and then I discovered the world of marketing, after that I decided to study business and marketing but always with the fashion industry in mind. When I got the job at Acne I learnt much more about the Wholesale side of the business, and really discovered that it was the best way to combine my passion for product, brand building and people. Before working for Acne I didn’t even know about wholesale as sales is nothing that they teach you in school really. I have stuck at that side of the industry ever since, I still feel passionate about business development and brand building and think I will probably always be working with similar things.
Worst and best work experiences?
My worst experience was probably when I worked for a start-up brand that had bit of an eccentric designer/CEO, I was there for 5 months in total… One of the things that happened was that she decided she wanted to retail something at the Apple stores and I had come up with a technical solution for a bag that that would charge your phone – within 1 week! The tempo was crazy and I knew straight away it wasn’t for me. I don’t really appreciate that very “fashiony” side of the business that makes people insecure about themselves either. I prefer to focus on good product and good people. One of my best experiences was probably when I opened up my own showroom together with one of my best friends to run our own Agency – that was a real sense of achievement and also very exciting. We also created a platform for Scandinavian brands to showcase their design during London fashion week – when we had our opening party for the first edition of Re Present (as it was called) at the ICA that felt really cool that we had managed to pull it together with help from friends and other organisations.
Best advice for someone looking to do the same.
Start working and build your network! The people you know and the friends you make are everything. A genuine interest in the product also really helps if you’re looking to get into sales... I could never work for a brand, company or with a product that I don’t like. I think it’s so important to genuinely like what you do as you otherwise will waste your talent doing something you don’t like.. I also always try to listen instead of making myself heard and remind myself to be humble towards everyone and everything in my environment. Also my motto is; kill them with kindness – I can’t stand bitchiness and there is so much of it in the industry, I always try to be even nicer the more rude someone is to me (even though it can be really hard sometimes).
Talk us through your daily routine.
I normally wake up at 6.30am, take a shower, dress and put on make-up. Hopefully I am ready fairly early so that I can have breakfast at home and listen to Swedish morning radio and browse through the news online. I jump on the circle line and get to work for around 9am. At work, no day looks the same but I will probably either be in front of my computer, taking meetings in the showroom or out visiting customers. I normally leave around 5.30-6pm and two days a week I try to go to the gym (Frame in Shoreditch) for Barre or Dance Cardio. I used to do more Yoga but since I discovered Barre I’m hooked… After that I will go home and cook something and have dinner with my partner, I love cooking and especially Italian so it very often turns into some pasta dish. If it’s a Monday we will watch Game of Thrones. Unfortunately it’s not more exciting than that!
How would you describe your style?
Hmm boring Scandi style? I look at my wardrobe and see a lot of black, navy, white and grey… I am always drawn to glittery colourful things but they very rarely end up on me. If I really want to spice it up I’ll put on a pair of lurex socks. Otherwise I am normally in jeans or a pair of black trousers and an oversize shirt or knit. I never wear heels even though I always promise myself that I will start so I at least have the choice when I feel like it. Now I haven’t walked in them for a year probably so would be scared to fall if I put them on! I am a sneakers person even though I quite like to wear boots with a small heel sometimes…
Top 5 shops in London.
Oh hard one!
Liberty – just needs to be on here because of the feeling you get when you walk through the flower shop to get in there. I also think their selection and edit always feels so nice and they really know their customer. Best place to get a gift and card.
The Clerkenwell Collection – a new store concept in Clerkenwell focusing on all aspects of designs with a niche offering of Scandinavian stationary, mix of fashion brands and incredible furniture. You can also hang out in their vinyl lounge or restaurant.
KJ’s Laundry –best offering of scandi designers in central London. They are really good at picking up new and established Swedish designers like Rodebjer and Hope that are hard to find elsewhere in London.
Wholefoods – I can browse here for hours and fantasize of doing all my grocery shopping here. I love the “beauty” department for Dr. Bronners soap and toxic free deodorants.
Stella McCartney store in Mayfair – also for browsing and dreaming.
So what is next up?
Next up is a summer in London with (hopefully) nice weather and lots of time outside. I will currently be selling in the SS17 collection from J.Lindeberg that we showcase until mid- August but before then I also have week on the Swedish west coast just relaxing and enjoying being close to the sea. The biggest thing coming up in 2016 is probably our baby that is due to arrive in December – total life changer but I am crazy excited and can’t wait to see what the little person I will probably spend the most time with for the next 18 years will be like! I never thought I would stay in London and especially not ending up having a family here but I love how life just goes ahead and suddenly you’re in these amazing situations in places you didn’t think you would be in.
Interview and photos by Thea C. Sneve Løvstad