Becksöndergaard Copenhagen was founded in 2003 by Lis Beck and Anna Söndergaard - an accessories brand with affordable and stylish designs which are unmistakably Scandinavian.
Becksöndergaard is represented by leading department stores, web shops and independent fashion shops across Europe as well as in Japan and the USA.
We chat to Anna about travel inspiration, future plans for Becksöndergaard and treading lightly...
We know that Scandinavia is firmly rooted in the Becksöndergaard history, but are there any other particular cultures or geographies around the world that you look to for inspiration? For instance, Northern Africa features significantly in the graphic treatments for your recent collections.
We LOVE travelling – and go many places for inspiration. Every collection normally has a specific geographic area as one of the main sources of inspiration. However, especially one place holds a special place in my heart and has always played a very special role in Becksöndergaard: Seoul and South Korea in general, since this is where our journey began. It was on our very first trip to Seoul that Lis and I found the eel skin. We had never seen anything like this material before and it was love at first sight. The eel skin Granny purse was our very first product and it still makes me happy every time I look at that purse.
Similarly, does the new collection draw inspiration from any cultures or locations in the world in particular?
Our new collection is a tribute to the 1970’s New York with particularly two powerful style icons in mind; the eccentric fashion editor at Vogue Diana Vreeland and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. With this collection, we want to embrace the feel of that place and time, where great personal freedom and individuality were celebrated. We’ve been inspired by both the cool laidback boho look that Woody Allen captured in ‘Annie Hall’ and the colourfulness, craze and dazzle of Studio 54.
Where in the world have you had your most memorable moments, either professional or personal?
I have just travelled for one month in Sri Lanka with my two kids aged 5 and 8. That was an absolutely fantastic experience. The country is amazing and still very unspoiled with lovely people, beautiful nature and an abundance of interesting cultural things to experience. I will definitely go back there some day. I would also love to bring the kids again – it is a great place to travel with children.
What are your personal travel necessities?
I always travel light. I love to explore the places I go and buy stuff for inspiration, so I need free space in my bag for bringing things back home. I always bring a light super soft scarf in cashmere or wool which also is perfect for the plane ride, trainers and sandals that work well both for wandering around and styled with a relaxed long dress in the evening, boyfriend jeans, a few t-shirts or tank tops, an oversize shirt and a light blazer.
Where’s next on your list in terms of travel goals?
I would love to go to Japan! I find this culture extremely fascinating and would love to go there for inspiration. I always get so inspired by talking to our Japanese customers when we meet them at the trade fair shows – they mix and match their clothes and accessories in a way that is truly unique. They never stop to impress me with their style - and they are lovely people to work with.
What is your vision as you take Becksöndergaard forward?
To me Becksöndergaard is a playground and it is important that it stay this way. We should never become too rigid or stop using our gut feel to develop our brand and company. It is a special feeling you get when you know something is right and it is important to hold on to this mentality as we grow. That we preserve our flat organization where people have a lot of decision-making power and where ideas can grow and tried out. We must never become lazy or stop doing new things and do things differently when it feels right – even when it seems difficult or entails a lot of extra work.
Right now, we are working a lot on making our brand come even more to life. We want to give our customers a bigger chance to experience Becksöndergaard and the universe we work in every day. It is extremely exciting times now and the creativity in our office is blooming. We do a lot of pop up events, which are great fun. In addition, we have developed a fantastic concept for establishing small Becksöndergaard areas in the shops, which I am very proud of and look so much forward to seeing out in the shops.
Why is treading lightly (in terms of environmental and social impact) so important when it comes to fashion?
I believe in the importance of treading lightly no matter what you do or what industry you are in. It is part of behaving properly as a human being and take responsibility. The fashion industry unfortunately is one of the industries facing big challenges in this regard and an industry, which traditionally has taken these issues too lightly, why it is extra important to pay attention to these matters when you are part of this industry.
As a smaller company, it is about a lot of small things you can do to make a difference. One great thing about our eel skin accessories for example is that the eel skin leather is a by-product from the food industry in Korea. The eels in question are not the semi-endangered European eels but deep-sea eels that is a part of the traditional Korean cuisine. Another thing we do is to work closely and long term with our manufacturers. Our CR efforts are grounded in the UN Global Compact’s 10 principles, which are based on internationally recognized principles on human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption. We work closely with our suppliers to improve and promote compliance with our CR policies. Instead of shopping around to save the last euro cent we believe in long-term relationships and in helping them grow their business in the right way. You need to go there, look at the facilities yourself and have a close dialogue with them on an ongoing basis. It might sound cliché but it can actually make a big difference in this industry that you treat your suppliers as partners and work closely with them.
If you could give your younger self one piece of business advice, what would that be?
Always believe in yourself and your gut feel. Follow your dreams - anything is possible, just do it and don’t overthink it!
What would you say is the best part of your job?
The people I get to work with – and that I get to decide for myself. I love being an entrepreneur and experience the satisfaction and pride of building something entirely from scratch. And I love and am extremely proud of our Becksöndergaard ‘family’ - the people who make all this possible.