- Location: Ottawa and online
- Specialty: Scandinavian home goods
- Price range: $$
- Website: trulyswedishdesign.com
- Founded: January 2011
- Founded by: Annika Ek
- Headquarters: Ottawa
IKEA may be the brand most associated with Sweden but of course there's more to the country than flat pack furniture from the big blue box. As a Swede living in Canada, Annika Ek wanted to bring products from small to medium sized Scandinavian companies to North America. Her shop, Truly Swedish Design, has the cosy minimalism of Swedish design sans big box.
Name/Title: Annika Ek, Owner & Founder of Truly Swedish Design
When did you open/launch Truly Swedish Design? I opened online in January 2011. This was followed in November 2011 with a small boutique/showroom in Ottawa's trendy neighborhood of Westboro. We have a cozy space in a converted apartment. During 2013 we will expand with a warehouse in the US to make online shopping smoother for our US customers.
What was the inspiration for opening the store? Being a Swede who has lived in Canada for many years, I wanted to decorate my own home with items I remembered from growing up. I was also aiming for that cosy minimalistic look that is so popular in Sweden. I started with the fun and practical rugs from Pappelina and everyday luxury linen products from Växbo Lin, like dishcloths and tea towels. Växbo Lin is from the area of Sweden where I grew up, so they are close to my heart, and the tradition to weave quality linen goes back hundreds of years. Their textiles are fantastic. I also love sharing with my customers how they can create a Scandinavian look in their own homes by using white walls, bold and bright patterns in rugs, curtains, tea towels and other textiles, and to change them with the seasons during the year for a continuously fresh look. I am also inspired to sell quality products that will last and have a place in your home for many, many years to come.
Where do you source your merchandise? Most of my products come from small to medium sized companies located in Sweden like Sofie Sjöström, Pappelina, Cult Design, Växbo Lin, Hinza and more. We also look for great items from the other Scandinavian/Nordic countries and currently have gorgeous lighting made from birch by Finnish Secto Design and Magisso, another Finnish company who rethinks everyday items, like their Cake Server.
What is the current best selling item? Rugs from Pappelina and Sofie Sjöström are always very popular and sell well year round. Since this type of rug is relatively new here, but have been used in Sweden since the 1940's, my customers are excited to discover the great designs and to learn that they are machine washable, long lasting and non-toxic. Another best seller are the linen dishcloths by Växbo Lin. I am having a hard time keeping in them in stock and I do warn my customers that these dishcloths are addictive, and that after using them you will not want anything else. Our Hinza bags are also a best seller. Original design from the 1950's in sturdy design that can carry 30 lbs and is perfect for organizing, gardening, shopping and so much more. Being water proof they are even used to hold fresh flowers and to chill drinks in the summer. They come in many great colors. Sorry for giving you three, so hard to pick just one.
What is YOUR favorite item? It often changes, but right now it is area rug ÅRE 140 cm x 220 cm in Red/Burgundy by Sofie Sjöström. I love the organic pattern of cross country ski tracks and the colours are bright but still a classic that I won't tire of.
Other than your own, what is your favorite store? Mjolk based in Toronto have a really beautiful collection.
(Images: Truly Swedish Design)