We've decided to get to know some of our local business partners a bit better - and today we speak to Eva Hellqvist of Oh So Swedish... 

Photo of a basket of Swedish produce and a photo of Eva standing outside her shop 'Oh So Swedish' Brighton

  • Tell us about your business and what you offer to visitors coming to Brighton

Oh So Swedish Arts & Crafts shop on Brighton Beach opened April 2012 with Nordic ice blue wooden walls, birch trees and Swedish memorabilia. This decor gives it a Scandi style with some Swedish visitors saying: “It feels like my grandmother’s summer house” and “It feels like home”

Oh So Swedish is open all year round, and offers a Scandinavian “Smörgåsbord” of handmade products of my own designs as well as from artists in Sweden. The crafts are inspired from the Nordic nature and traditions mixed with influences of the Swedish modern, urban society. Along side this we we also sell Swedish Sweets & Salty Liquorice, Wild Lingonberry Jam, handmade soaps, eco-friendly Swedish cleaning products such as Grönsåpa (green liquid soap) and compostable printed dishcloths.

We have been a VisitBrighton Tourist Information Point since 2014 and the shop is also a Stasher Luggage storage point (summer season).

  • What inspired you to set up Oh So Swedish?

Three things: my love of Swedish nature and traditions, as a way to connect with the Swedish community in Brighton and finally a place to be creative and to meet people from all over the world.

  • Can you tell us about your ethos and your interest in hand crafted goods?

My ethos is:

-To make unique and limited designs inspired by Swedish nature,

-To use natural and eco-friendly material,

-Re-use and upcycle locally found material & items to transform them into my Swedish handcrafted goods.

-To sell good quality Swedish Handmade Products from Swedish artists, not to be found elsewhere in Brighton.

  • What’s the best thing about your work?

The best thing is to work so close to the sea, to meet all these lovely people from far and near and have a chat, to be a part of the network of traders and people working along the beach and to be independent.

  • What’s your average day like, or is it ever average??

The average day is constantly changing but normally it starts with a bike ride down from the Hanover hills to the seafront,  putting the metal shutters up and open followed by setting out the outdoor signs, tables and the Swedish flag. When all indoors are checked I often have a strong cup of Swedish coffee, ready for another exciting day on the beach.

  • We’ve seen that you’re offering some great home delivery products at the moment, can you tell us about these?

Yes, during lockdown I have been offering Swedish Essentials by Viking Express Free Home delivery by bike. I have so far done 21 home deliveries with my old Swedish bike “Crescent Embla” during the months my shop was closed.

The Viking home delivery is continuing even though the shop is now open but, with a small delivery fee.  The home delivery was a way for me to keep the business alive during lockdown, to beat the lockdown blues to be closed for 3 months plus of course provide Swedish Essentials (Sweet & Salty Liquorice/Lingonberry jam, soaps etc.) to customers. Finally, alternative bicycle deliveries gave me a good portion of exercise, cycling from home in Hanover to Seven Dials, West Hill, Five Ways, Hove, Kemptown/Marina and Preston Park. 

Maudie, one of my loyal Swedish customers left this comment on my Facebook page during lockdown: "Huge thank you to Eva Ohsoswedish who got on her Viking bike early this morning to bring me Lingonberry Jam, soaps and a treat (which as you can see didn't last very long!)"

Photo of goods received from one of Oh So Swedish's regular customers

  • You have been really creative during the lockdown period in order to survive, would you like to share your experience of running your business during this challenging time?

From my experience I would say that depending on the type of business you can keep it alive with alternative deliveries. Ask other businesses/shops that are open if you can sell your products (I have been selling my handmade soaps in a local shop in Hanover, lovely Bhav’s shop on Southover Street). 

Keep in close contact with your regular customers, friends, and neighbourhood via social media.

Use alternative delivery like your bicycle or other vehicle, contact delivery companies who could offer you service to deliver or sell your products.

Keep fit and do not let the media scare you to lose your inspiration to go on despite the challenging times.  Be patient and follow the guidelines, stay alert and well.

  • How are you thinking of developing the business for the future?

I’m continuing as before with making & selling my Swedish products, but plan to organise some creative workshops, take part in outdoor markets, develop some ideas of practical wooden home products as well as new designs of concrete and screen printing fabrics. 

Since deliveries from Sweden are taking too long and becoming expensive, I will opt for making more of my own designs with locally sourced material.

  • What do you like most about Brighton and Sussex?

The seafront and the iconic architecture,  the South downs, the diversity of the people , the artistic and bohemian vibe and most of all Hanover, are home area, Hanover with the steep hills and amazing community spirit that have made me as a foreigner feel so at home since moving here 12 years ago.

Related

Oh So Swedish Arts & Crafts
Speciality Shop
Tea-towel

Oh So Swedish make and sell limited editions of handmade arts & crafts created by individuals from all corners of Sweden, inspired by the Nordic nature & traditions, sometimes mixed with influences of the Swedish modern urban society.

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