Mom to Gilbert (7) and Carla (5)
Styling Trine Nørgaard, photography Marie Louise Munkegaard.
Louise, please tell us about yourself and your family?
I’m a mother, a wife and the owner of STUDIO MINI. I live in Charlottenlund, just north of Copenhagen, in a wooden cabin from 1927 with my husband, Thomas, and our two kids, Gilbert and Carla. We also just added a puppy to our family, so these days are mostly spent trying to make Harry pee outside and not chew up all of the kids’ toys.
What’s the story behind STUDIO MINI?
I’ve always loved furniture and interior design, and my interests naturally expanded to also include kids’ furniture and interiors as soon as I learned I was pregnant. This was in 2010, and Thomas and I lived in the US at this time – this is also where I gave birth to Gilbert. I found out I was pregnant again about a year after his birth, and at 8 months pregnant we were on our way home to Copenhagen, as our 4-year-stay in North Carolina had come to an end. We arrived in Copenhagen 5 weeks before my due date, and moved in to a lovely, but entirely empty, house.
Fastforward to after birth, I found myself sitting in the house with still-empty rooms, nursing a newborn and keeping an almost 2-year old entertained. I was searching online for all the kids stuff that I knew existed, but I wasn’t able to find a Danish online shop that had the things I wanted – and by this point – desperately needed. It was right there and then, in the middle of the highs and lows of becoming a mother for the second time, that the idea for STUDIO MINI started to emerge in my head. Not only did it come from my personal needs, but it also came from returning to Denmark, and finding the Danish market for kids furniture primarily dominated by Danish brands. I felt it was time for something new, and I was set on the idea that I was going to bring that.
It did, however, take more than 2 years from the initial idea until launch. My mother passed away unexpectedly a few months after we had moved back to Copenhagen, and it took us all completely by surprise. The grief and the sorrow stretched on for months and months, but with losing her I also became so much more aware about how I – and we as a family – spend our time. I simply had to do something that was important and meaningful to me, and I wanted to work with something that I was truly passionate about. I couldn’t stand the idea of wasting my time, now being very much aware of how limited our time may or may not be.
I really never thought I would have my own company, but with STUDIO MINI came the strongest sense of purpose that I have ever felt, and then there was just no looking back.
What’s it like to run your own company?
It’s fun, exciting and I’ve learned so much not just about how to drive an online business but also about myself. I also sometimes doubt what I do and if it’s at all possible what I’m trying to achieve. The best way for me to process whatever uncertainty I may feel is to continuously try to improve, so that’s what I do.
Thankfully, I have an amazing team of freelancers who’s there with me, giving high fives when it’s time to celebrate and mental support when that’s needed. STUDIO MINI wouldn’t be where it is today without these people, and I owe each of them a big thank you for wanting to be a part of this journey.
How do you source and select brands for the shop?
Sourcing is an ongoing thing; it’s a part of me that I can’t just turn off. For example, I came across the now-so-popular foldable storage boxes in an Italian kitchen shop years ago while we were in Rome on vacation. It is now one year ago that I brought the boxes to Denmark and to the rest of Europe. More typically though, I find brands and products through Instagram, Pinterest and magazines. It’s usually an instant thing: I know immediately when I come across something that I like.
I always look for the design aspect; the product has to appeal to me, whether it’s the shape, the colour, or something else that catches my eye. I also always look at quality and functionality. It’s not enough that it’s a pretty thing, I am looking for functional, high-quality – and preferably sustainable – items for our kids to enjoy that are also kind to parents’ eyes.
How did you decorate your own kids’ bedrooms?
The intention with both rooms was to decorate them with their age in mind and not so much their gender. Having said that, we’ve still ended up with the classic blue for boys and pink for girls.
Anyhow, it was important to me to find a great bed suited for their ages, optimal storage and to position their furniture so that there’s space for playing on the floor, as they both still enjoy that. For beds, we chose the 120 cm wide A Teen Bed for Gilbert, which is big enough for him and a friend to sleep in. It’s also a modern piece that he will have and use for many, many years to come. For Carla, we opted for the Echo Toddler Bed, that with its rounded edges still gives some kind of security, while it’s big enough to fit her until she’s 7 or so.
For storage, I decided to place all their shelves up against one wall in both their rooms. That means that all toys, games, clothes etc are put in one place. Placing all the very colourful and messy stuff together somehow makes it less noisy, I think, – allowing for a more calm feeling in the rest of the room.
While I really enjoy free-standing tables and chairs, their small rooms did not allow for much of that, so we’ve put their beds and tables up against the walls to free up as much floor space as possible. Both of them still enjoy to sit on the floor and play, so for now we’ll leave it like that.
Everything else such as stickers in the window sill, little pictures and drawings are my kids’ own little creations. I really enjoy seeing what kinds of things they add to their spaces – it says so much about who they are and what they’re into.
What’s your dream with STUDIO MINI?
I dream of STUDIO MINI becoming the place modern parents go to for children’s furniture, decor, toys and wear.
My vision is to continuously develop a beautiful and inspirational online universe, that’s easy to navigate and allows for convenient shopping at any time of the day. I also want it to be a place where parents go to find inspiration – while being able to shop great stuff for kids made by the best manufacturers across the world.
What means ‘when kids live there, too’ to you?
To me it means life as a family, whether that’s a family of two, three, four or more. I think our homes should reflect where we are in our lives – so if you’ve just had a baby, then it’s okay to have baby stuff all over the place.
We currently have small tables for drawing, little chairs and stools to reach higher – and many more kids things spread out all over the house. As goes for everything else, we’ve always chosen kids pieces that are high-quality, functional and beautiful – things we have all appreciated, loved and used. In that way, all the kids stuff has become an integrated part of our home. Just the way I want them to be.
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