In this educational and insightful interview, Shaun, Founder of Skandinavisk:
Explains the origins of the brand, focusing on the history and importance of candles in Scandinavian culture, and why Skandinavisk moved away from producing a range of regular candles to concentrate on home fragrance and body care to reach a wider audience.
Describes the many issues he faced when he launched his brand, such as trying to sell products that spanned a range of categories including textiles, ceramics and fragrances.
Expands on two key mistakes he made: 1) assuming that the brand would sell poorly in Scandinavia and 2) planning to focus on selling direct to consumers rather than via wholesale.
Discusses the importance of 'pivoting' or changing course in a business when current methods aren't successful.
Recalls how close the business came to failing because of issues presented by Covid-19, and the streams of revenue that kept the business going.
Talks through the ethical reasons which led Skandinavisk to replace its entire product line.
Gives a detailed overview of the experience and process of becoming B Corp certified, what it means, and what the ongoing responsibilities are.
Outlines the scale and purpose of the B Corp Beauty Coalition, of which he Chairs the Supervisory Board.
Recounts his earlier career history and why he was happy to walk away from corporate life aged 40, as well as explaining the skills he had to learn in his new business life and the importance of mental health and clarity helping you to ‘stay sane’ as you run a business.
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0:00 | Alan introduces the show by talking briefly about his history in business. He continues by describing the format and purpose of the show.
1:13 | Alan invites listeners to get in touch with questions and comments, and gives contact details.
1:33 | Alan welcomes Shaun Russell to the show, and invites him to introduce himself to the listeners.
1:43 | Shaun tells Alan a little about his personal background and history. He introduces his company Skandinavisk, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary.
3:14 | Shaun explains the origins of the brand, focusing on the history and importance of candles in Scandinavian culture. He talks about the three fragrances that he developed initially, and their inspirations.
6:30 | Shaun explains that Scandinavisk moved away from producing a mix of unfragranced and fragranced candles, to concentrate on fragranced candles and body care.
7:10 | Alan asks Shaun to discuss some of the things that he did wrong in the early days of Skandinavisk.
7:50 | Shaun describes the vision he had for Skandinavisk when he started the business as being a Scandinavian themed lifestyle brand, incorporating many product categories. Shaun goes on to explain some of the issues that he faced when trying to sell products that spanned a range of categories, such as textiles, ceramics, and fragrances.
9:50 | Shaun continues by explaining the reasoning behind concentrating on fragrance.
11:30 | Shaun expands upon two other mistakes that he made. Firstly, an assumption that the brand would sell poorly in Scandinavia. Secondly, the plan to focus on selling direct to consumer from a website, instead of distributing through wholesale.
13:30 | Alan and Shaun discuss 'pivoting' or changing course in a business when current methods aren't successful.
16:07 | Shaun recounts a radical decision that he made to replace Skandinavisk's entire product collection, for ethical, sustainable reasons.
18:00 | Alan asks Shaun what happened in March 2020, with Skandinavisk about to launch a large range of new products, and Covid-19 closing down retail stores. Shaun tells Alan about how close the business came to failing because of issues presented by Covid-19, and the streams of revenue that kept the business going.
21:55 | Shaun explains why Skandinavisk found itself in a stronger position than before Covid-19 when retail stores began to re-open.
22:35 | Alan asks Shaun to expand upon the reasons which led Skandinavisk to replace its entire product line. Shaun tells Alan about the experience of becoming B-Corp certified.
24:20 | Alan asks Shaun to discuss B-Corp certification further. Shaun gives a detailed overview of how the B-Corp certification is obtained, and what it means.
27:13 | Shaun gives examples of two speakers who played a part in his push towards Skandinavisk as an eco-friendly company.
28:37 | Alan mentions the 'quadruple bottom line' of people, planet, profit, purpose, and compares it to the B-Corp approach. Alan goes on to ask Shaun what the ongoing responsibilities are as a B-Corp certificate holder.
32:01 | Shaun explains that he is the chair of the board of the B-Corp beauty coalition. He goes on to explain the scale and purpose of that coalition.
33:40 | Alan tells Shaun that he is an associate of a company called Contexis. He talks about how Contexis worked to prove that purpose led businesses are more profitable and with greater longevity than non-purpose led businesses. Alan considers the idea of B-Corp certified businesses as being purpose led by nature, and the positive effects that this has as a result.
35:30 | Shaun replies with his thoughts on Alan's point, mentioning Patagonia as a notable business within the sustainable space.
36:45 | Alan asks Shaun what he did before he founded Skandinavisk. He explains his time in 'corporate life' and the reasons why he found it an unenjoyable experience. He goes on to talk about leaving the corporate world at the age of 40.
39:40 | Shaun tells Alan about the inspiration he found in the 'Nordic kitchen manifesto.' He goes on to tell an anecdote involving a French perfumer describing Scandinavia as 'pine and snow.'
42:30 | Alan congratulates Shaun on the attitude that he brought to starting the business at 40 years old. He goes on to ask Shaun if he had any business training.
43:20 | Shaun dives deeper into his career history, and explains that his past experiences weren't particularly useful in starting Skandinavisk. He continues by revealing some of the skills he had to learn, and talks about humbling experiences of showing up to shops to show his products.
47:25 | Shaun discusses the importance of mental health and clarity 'staying sane' in running a business. He continues by telling Alan of his '6 P's'. The first is 'picture' which represents the vision he has for a physical Skandinavisk retail space.
50:50 | The second is 'path.' This incoporates the path to the 'picture' and the importance of switching paths when necessary.
51:22 | The third is 'permission.' He expands on this by describing it as giving yourself the permission to be afraid, and to open up.
52:36 | The fourth is 'perseverance', covering the importance of keeping going.
53:30 | The fifth is 'paranoia.' This represents a series of questions which Shaun feels need to be asked about every decision, essentially questioning and scrutinising everything that the business does.
54:40 | The sixth is 'passion.' He explains why passion helps a business to push forwards, and attracts others.
56:30 | Alan and Shaun talk about the media's glorification of people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, with Shaun concluding that he is happy running a small business with a B-Corp certification.
58:22 | Alan thanks Shaun, and wishes Skandinavisk a happy 10th birthday. He ends by reminding listeners how to get in touch with Love Business.