Originally from Finland, Katja was always bound to be a designer. Showing her creative flair from a very young age, her family nurtured & encouraged Katja’s use of imagination and explorative nature. Throughout her childhood she spent countless hours in front of her sketchbook, most of the time immersed in her own vivid & surreal world.
Now, House of Coco have stepped inside her world to find out more. We chatted about her journey to where she is today, her aspirations for the future and so much more…
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to getting where you are today?
I believe I was always bound to be a designer, or artist of sort. I showed my creative flair from a very young age and fortunately my family nurtured & encouraged me to use my imagination and explorative nature to the fullest. Throughout my childhood I spent countless of hours in front of my sketchbook, most of the time immersed in my own vivid & surreal world. I continuously wanted to learn new ways to use my creative energy and learned skills such as sewing and woodwork. I was constantly looking for new mediums to explore.
After moving to Australia from my native Finland I decided to learn some basic skills of metalwork and this was when all the pieces of the creative puzzle came together and my passion for jewellery design revealed itself. I was amazed by the possibilities of these seemingly rigid materials and continued learning by attending every workshop possible. It became evident that I wanted to pursue this further and went on to study Jewellery and Object Design at Enmore Design Centre in Sydney.
After finishing my studies at Enmore I decided that I want to share my creativity and aesthetics with the rest of the world in the form of jewellery. That is when my label, Vilund was born.
What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
It is really difficult to pick one highlight, but in general this year has been very good to me. Vilund has been featured in Vogue, Lita Magazine and now House of Coco! My jewellery has also been used in different fashion campaigns and editorials which will be published at a later date. I celebrate every milestone and try to enjoy the entire journey.
Who is involved in the business?
At the moment I manage most aspects of Vilund on my own. I work very closely with a jewellery manufacturer and their silversmiths in Bali. My photographer husband Robert has also helped me immensely along the way from taking photos for my website, to organising shoots and being my constant supporter.
What product has been your best seller?
I believe it is a close call between the Axis earrings and my personal favourite, the Orbit bracelet.
Describe the brand in 3 words?
Explorative, simplistic and contemporary
Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
My typical day starts with exercise, whether it is a run, a walk with my dog Luka, or a yoga class. This always puts me in the right headspace and increases my productivity for the day. The rest of the day is a constant juggle of emails, orders, design work and phone calls. Running my own business is one of the most challenging things I have ever done but the reward of being able to do something you love makes it all worthwhile.
How do you juggle work and social life?
I must admit that lately my life has been a bit more about work than play. I try to make time to see my friends at least once a week, even if it is only a quick coffee date. The good thing about running my own business is that I manage my own time and can be flexible if needed. I am happy to work really hard from Monday to Saturday, but I do like having Sundays off and be able to enjoy myself and the wonderful lifestyle Sydney offers.
You are obviously a creative person, when your creativity is lacking what do you do to get it back?
I never try to force my creativity. If I feel like I can’t get a design where it needs to be, i just leave it and focus my energy on something else that needs to be done. And there is always something that needs to be done. I believe creativity needs to happen naturally, only then you can get the best result!
What sets your range apart from anything else that is currently on the market?
The ideology behind Vilund is to create jewelry that goes beyond what is already on offer. My design aesthetics are classically Nordic, fused with modern Australian elements. As a rule I never look for inspiration in the world of jewellery, as I don’t wish to mimic anyone else’s creativity
Who/what inspires you?
I am inspired by travel, nature, dreams, shadows, silhouettes… The list is endless, and often the best ideas are being inspired by the seemingly most insignificant things that can easily be left unnoticed. There is so much beauty around us, how could one not be inspired!
Are there any sources you go for support with running your business?
I am very lucky to know many amazing people who have businesses of their own and work in the creative field. They have all been happy to help and offer their guidance. The advice and encouragement I have received has been vital. One thing that I have learned is that there is absolutely no shame in asking for advice.
What are your plans for the brand in 2016?
I am currently working on new designs and going through sampling process. My aim is to get a new collection out in July. I am also constantly keeping my eye out for new stockists, and hoping to find many more this year.
Are there plans to expand outside the world of jewellery?
Who knows what the future holds, but at the moment all my energy is being absorbed by the world of jewellery. There is still so much left to be explored.
At House of Coco we love to travel, tell us about your favourite place on the planet?
I have been very lucky and have had a chance to explore quite a bit of our beautiful planet, but the raw beauty of northern Norway always takes my breath away. I have been there countless of times, but the majestic mountains, fjords, fresh air and the unspoilt nature never fails to impress. Norway is like a diamond in the rough, which happens to be my favorite kind of diamond.
If there’s one business owning activity you could get better at, what would it be?
I think i would have to say marketing. I view marketing as the art of persuasive communication and I would love to get better at finding the most effective ways in promoting my business and building my brand.
For others aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
Do what you love, work hard and the rest will follow. Let go of fear, have some faith and enjoy the journey! It’s going to be a good one!