Cute as a button
Lilleknappen’s Norwegian-American design
For Anna Bloomstrand, Scandinavian design is just in her blood. After all, the infamous Scandinavian specialty store Ingebretsen’s in Minneapolis, Minn. has been in her family since 1921. “I’ve always kind of been in it,” she says.
The Scandinavian specialty business, that is. Now, Bloomstrand is the owner of her own company: Lilleknappen (Norwegian for “little button”), founded in the early 1980s by Ronette Doering. Now owned and operated by Bloomstrand, “we are continuing Doering’s nod to Scandinavia’s traditions, as well as honoring its rich history of design in both past and present times,” as stated on the Lilleknappen website.
After starting her own jewelry company 10 years ago, and then hearing that Doering was putting her business – a long-time partner of Ingebretsen’s – up for sale, Bloomstrand felt ready to take on a challenge. “I thought it sounded great,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in design, and especially Scandinavian design.”
Taking over the business was the natural next step, and in the four years that Bloomstrand has been head honcho, a lot has changed, including the name. Before, the business was more focused on costuming and Scandinavian novelty products. “Many stores have transitioned a lot over the past few years, focusing a bit more on modern design,” Bloomstrand says. “That’s where I’ve tried to put my focus.” Indeed, a glance through Lilleknappen’s products reveals simple, aesthetically appealing jewelry, as well as clothing that embraces Norwegian heritage with a small flag or stripe of embroidery; nothing over-the-top. “The stones that we use are all indigenous to Scandinavia,” says Bloomstrand about the jewelry, which she has really enjoyed focusing on in the past four years. Another best-selling item for Lilleknappen is without a doubt its line of children’s clothing and products. Boasting the “clean lines and simplicity,” that Bloomstrand believes is an important part of Scandinavian design, these clothes come in a variety of bright shades. The designs are simple and elegant, one of which portrays the silhouette of a Viking ship. Another pattern states “Uff da” while another design says “Glad i deg” (Norwegian for “I love you”) complete with a tiny heart. Again, Bloomstrand finds a way to embrace Scandinavian heritage in a clean, classy way – and makes it easy and fun for the customer to pass their Norwegian heritage down to kids and grandkids.
Meanwhile, Bloomstrand redesigned the company’s website in January and it is definitely worth a visit at www.lilleknappen.com. Efficient and beautifully designed, the website includes information and inventory.
Bloomstrand has also been working on changing the company’s inventory to reflect a transition to modern design and a globalized world. “It’s kind of amazing how the design influence in Scandinavia is easy to find in all different countries,” she says, explaining how the inspiration for one dala-horse shaped necklace comes from Korea.
Lilleknappen is a wholesale-only purveyor, so you cannot purchase their items online. But Lilleknappen products can be found at almost every Scandinavian specialty store across the nation, and soon you will be able to look up retailers on their website, www.lilleknappen.com.
This article originally appeared in the July 13, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.