Oleana “pops up”
Norwegian sweater company finds success with creative marketing approach
St. Paul, Minn.
In a time of constant advertising, coming at us from all angles, brands have to maneuver unique approaches to reach customers. The pop-up shop concept is a method that allows brands to connect directly with their customers, beyond the screen or store window.
Starting in the late 1990s, pop-up retail was coined and included shopping events with music, food, and an exclusive and limited shopping experience. Pop-up shops conjure that same one-time-only feeling that modern shopping markets and festivals do.
One company finding success with pop-up shops is a family-owned textile business from Norway, Oleana. In a country with a historic national tradition of wool knitwear, Oleana set out to preserve the knowledge and quality that Norway is known for.
Lori Anderson approached Oleana with the idea to start pop-up style business after Iverson’s Imports in Minneapolis retired. She offered to be the representative for the Midwest to start, and she now represents the entire country. She began as a fan and collector of Oleana.
“I like how Matilda [Norberg, creative director at Oleana] is collaborating from season to season, you can purchase a skirt in one season that works with a sweater from another,” Anderson said.
Oleana’s designs are intricate and blend modern women’s fashion with classic Nordic motifs. But their clothing can be hard to find in the United States. Oleana pop-up shops have been hosted at Norway House in Minneapolis and at Nordiska in Poulsbo, Wash. The company even uses pop-up shops at its factory in Ytre Arna, Norway. Anderson is working with a number of businesses in the United States to sell Oleana and host more events like this.
The first Oleana pop-up shop was in conjunction with an exhibit in 2020 at Norway House, organized by director of exhibitions and programs, Max Stevenson. Oleana is just one of the brands Norway House has partnered with in its mission to connect with modern Norwegian businesses.
Ethan Bjelland, director of communications at Norway House, said, “The exhibit was incredibly successful, and the opening brought in folks who have worn and enjoyed Oleana products already, as well as new appreciators and fashion bloggers, interested in the new direction of the designs. The pop-ups were just as successful. The fresh, new look and feel of the knitwear appeals to both younger and older women.”
The success of that first event inspired Norway House to find ways to navigate shopping during the pandemic with individual appointments. At their groundbreaking for a new $19.5 million expansion on Sept. 17, 2021, Norway House hosted speakers, special guests, and Norwegian businesses to commemorate the event. Visitors could sample specialty food and beverages, like butter from Røros, and shop the two current exhibits, including pieces from Oleana and Sylvsmidja, a Norwegian jewelry company specializing in bunad accessories.
Norway House will have two more Oleana pop-up shops this year on Oct. 14 and Nov. 11 – 12.
Pop-up shops provide an intimate shopping experience with the chance to speak to someone who has expertise on the items. “Pop-ups have been great at both Norway House and Nordiska; they allow customers to see the full collection, colors, and size ranges. The orders are taken and then the goods are shipped directly to the customer in a week or so,” explains Lori Anderson, owner and founder of Euro Nest and the national Oleana representative for the United States.
At Nordiska, Anderson provided the entire staff with training before their first pop-up shop in September. Owner Kristin Klassert opened the store in 2017 and has since gone through two physical expansions of the space.
“Once we had the opportunity to expand the store again this past spring,” she said, “I knew I wanted to bring in some of the Solveig Hisdal Classic Collection of cardigans from Oleana. We have been carrying a variety of the Classic Collection sweaters, scarves, wristlets, and blankets since our reopening and will continue to stock them going forward.”
Klassert first learned about Oleana from Laura Almaas at her shop in Gig Harbor, Wash., Chalet in the Woods. Although Nordiska was smaller at the time, Klassert still began to carry accessory pieces with ordering help from Almaas. Nordiska is now the go-to contanct for Oleana in the Pacific Northwest and is the sole retailer in the region.
Anderson attended the pop-up shop at Nordiska to take special orders and answer questions. Klassert said, “It was wonderful having Lori in town! Her knowledge of Oleana, fitting customers, and her passion for the brand really shines through.”
Klassert wanted to bring in the new collection to introduce the brand to new customers and provide fresh designs to existing clientele. Customers came from surrounding counties, as well as the local Kitsap County area to shop Oleana. Klassert hopes to make this an annual event in the fall at Nordiska. “It was so fun to be able to see both the spring and autumn 2021 lines in addition to the classic designs,” she said.
Pop-up shops attract specific audiences and bring together people with common interests. Klassert started Nordiska because of her own Nordic connection. Her father’s family is Swedish and Norwegian, and she has been traveling to Scandinavia since childhood. During her college years, she studied in Mora, Sweden.
This style of retail event can help bring new brands and products to customers, often from different countries. Pop-up shops create a special shopping environment that feels urgent and exclusive and more like a party than anything else. They are also a great way for stores and cultural centers to learn more about international brands and create new relationships.
You can find more information and shop online at the following websites:
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 22, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.