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Louise Andreasen in front of the posters describing the history of Sika-Design and, thus, the Andreasen family.

It is not rare to see the doctor’s daughter becoming a doctor, the lawyer’s son going to law school or the children of artists choose an artistic practice.

It can be difficult to follow on the heels of a success, many people say. On the other hand, we should not ignore the benefits of standing on a strong predecessor’s shoulders. To offer a third perspective, blazing your own trail brings a sense of freedom, as I have found in my own life.

My working life is very different from my parents’, and above all, apart from a very brief interlude, rather being an employee, I have always had my own business.

The term ‘entrepreneur’, not to mention the related term ‘enterprising’, is one that I have often reflected on,
as I have wondered whether my own drive and many ideas can be labelled as entrepreneurship
or as something else entirely.

I guess I have long since concluded that I may be enterprising, but I am not an entrepreneur but something else, which we can get back to some other time.

March 2019

‘Aunt Dagmar’

I am, however, fascinated by and have the deepest respect for people who have entrepreneurship in the blood. The Andreasen family does.

In my childhood, we talked about ‘aunt Dagmar’. Aunt Dagmar was not actually part of the family. She was the legendary Dagmar Andreasen, who, in 1935, founded the juice factory Rynkeby Mosteri on the island of Funen.
On special occasions, when we had a soft drink with our meals, it was always apple juice from Rynkeby – we called it soda from Aunt Dagmar.
In 1990, Dagmar sold the company to Carlsberg, which later sold it to Arla.

Dagmar Andreasen, who died in 2006, was married to Ankjær Andreasen,
who founded Sika-Design in 1940. The company, which is known for rattan furniture, is now run by Louise Andreasen, Dagmar and Ankjær’s grand-daughter.
Today, Sika is located at the site of the former juice factory. The furniture factory took the buildings over three years after the sale to Carlsberg. Since then, Sika has expanded the facilities several times to accommodate the rapidly growing family company.

Arne Jacobsens Charlottenborg series from 1937

In 2019, I met Louise in Rynkeby.

As a child, Louise dreamt of following in her father’s and her grandfather’s footsteps. She tells me that at the age of 10, she went to a tradeshow, and on that day, she decided what her future career would be.

‘My paternal grandfather, Ankjær Andreasen, was a confident man with many ideas. He was involved in the local operation of the business, engaging with the workers who made baskets and wickerwork products in their own homes, but he also travelled the world and forged international partnerships, despite a very limited grasp of English. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with him, the path from thought to action was never long,’ says Louise.

As second generation in the company, Louise’s father, Knud Andreasen, professionalized and organized operations, with help from his wife. They are both hard-working, and although Louise is now the sole owner of the company, her parents still show up for work every day. They intend to continue to do so until they are no longer able. Retirement is an alien concept in the Andreasen family.

I always knew that one day, I would take over the company. Fortunately, I chose to train in another furniture company and did not join Sika until I had something to bring to the table,’ says Louise. ‘Then I worked alongside my dad for 20 years, until we completed the generational changeover. Now, I am at the head of the table, and I have a hand in everything, except for IT, where I feel I’m out of my depth. I start at 6 in the morning, holding Skype meetings with Asia, and conclude my working day at 10 in the evening, conducting meetings with the United States.


Sika in 2019

The challenge for Louise’s generation, in addition to managing a heritage brand in a contemporary manner and growing the company, is to position the brand and utilize its potential in a global context.
She balances her own affinity for soft and feminine expressions with the industry’s demand for Scandinavian minimalism. One of her very successful initiatives is ‘Icons’, a collection of design classics by Arne Jacobsen and Jørgen & Nanna Ditzel, among others. The collection was launched by Sika in 2013, and new designs are continually added.

For example, I spotted a new product to be presented this year in Milan! Sika-Design’s classic line ‘Originals’ has also remained relevant – rattan furniture looks great in any context.

The café in Kerteminde

Let’s meet for lunch at our café in Kerteminde,’ Louise suggested when we were arranging our meeting. The café is one of the enterprising Louise’s many initiatives. Like her grandfather, she too has a short path from thought to action. A few days after the idea she and a friend came up with the idea during a drive, they had found a location, secured a lease and were planning to open a café together. ‘To be honest,’ says Louise, ‘I needed a café in Kerteminde. I supplied the furniture, and my husband, who makes a living buying and restoring former fishermen’s cottage in Kerteminde, helped with the renovation.’ Louise’s café business partner handles day-to-day operations, and in addition to being a café, the place also serves as a showcase for Sika’s furniture and for a line of decorative art that Louise, equally spontaneously, took over a few years ago from someone in her network who had bitten off more than they could chew.


Changing times

During our drive from Kerteminde to Rynkeby, we talk about developments in the business and about the challenges and joys of understanding the changes and moving along with them, rather than making them your enemy.

Not surprisingly, Louise tells me the biggest change is the gradual demise of traditional retail. On the other hand, interior decorators are in clover as mediators of furniture sales, and those who are good at navigating on social media are the real winners. That is not to say there are not brick-and-mortar shops that do well. But the ones that thrive are the ones that are committed to giving their customers a good shopping experience from start to finish and have a strong presence on both physical and virtual platforms.

Bonus info: Unlike bamboo, rattan is not hollow but solid, which makes it very strong and well suited for furniture. Because it fast-growing, it is a sustainable material. Rattan has been used as a furniture material for centuries across a wide range of cultures.

Det hænder ikke sjældent, at lægens datter bliver læge, advokatens søn vil læse jura, og at børn af kunstnere af en hver slags vælger et kunstneriske erhverv.

Det kan være svært at komme efter en succes siger man. På den anden side skal man ikke underkende værdien af at stå på skuldrene af nogen, og på den tredje side rummer det at være mønsterbryder en vis frihed, som jeg selv har nydt godt af.

Jeg laver noget helt andet end mine forældre gjorde, fremfor alt har jeg, bortset fra en meget kort periode af mit liv, aldrig som dem været lønarbejder men selvstændig.

Begrebet entreprenør, for ikke at tale om det afledte verbum entreprenant, har jeg grublet over mange gange i mit liv, og jeg har overvejet om min egen virkelyst og min iderigdom kunne rubriceres som iværksætteri, entreprenørskab eller noget helt tredje?
Jeg har for længst konkluderet, at nok er jeg entreprenant, men jeg er hverken iværksætter eller entreprenør, men noget tredje som vi kan tale om ved en anden lejlighed.

The ‘Belladonna’ sofa, created in 1950 by designer Franco Albini, is part of Sika’s ‘Icons’ collection.

“Moster Dagmar”

Derimod fascineres jeg af og nærer en dyb respekt for mennesker, som har entreprenørskab i blodet. Det har de i familien Andreasen.

I min barndom snakkede vi om ”Moster Dagmar”. Moster Dagmar var ikke moster til nogen i min familie, men den legendariske Dagmar Andreasen, som i 1935 startede Rynkeby Mosteri på Fyn.
Når vi ved festlige lejligheder skulle have sodavand til maden, var det æblemost fra Rynkeby, og den blev omtalt som sodavand fra Moster Dagmar!
I 1990 solgte Dagmar mosteriet til Carlsberg, som siden solgte til Arla.

Dagmar Andreasen, som døde i 2006, var gift med Ankær Andreasen som grundlagde Sika- Design i 1940. Virksomheden, som er kendt for sine rattanmøbler, drives i dag af Louise Andreasen som er Dagmar og Ankjærs barnebarn.
Sikas adresse er Rynkeby. De selvsamme lokaler, som Dagmar forlod i 1990, overtog Sika 3 år senere, og de er siden bygget ud flere gange for at rumme den hastigt voksende familievirksomhed.

I 2019 mødte jeg Louise i Rynkeby

I Louises barndom drømte hun om at gå i faderens og farfaderens fodspor. Hun fortæller, at hun som 10-årig var med på en messe, og at hun da bestemte sig for, hvordan hendes fremtidige løbebane skulle være.

”Min farfar Ankjær Andreasen var iderig og stor i slaget. Han opererede både i det nære hvor kurvevareproduktionen blev varetaget af hjemmearbejdere, men han rejste også verden rundt og indgik samarbejder, hvor han kom frem. Uden at kunne tale mange ord på engelsk. Hvor der er vilje, er der vej og der var ikke langt fra tanke til handling.” Fortæller Louise.

Louises forældre fik professionaliseret og organiseret virksomheden. De er slidere og til trods for, at det i dag er Louise, som ejer virksomheden 100%, så møder forældrene hver dag på arbejde. Det har de tænkt sig at gøre til de ikke kan længere. I familien Andreasen går man ikke på pension.

Jeg har altid vidst at jeg en dag skulle overtage virksomheden. Men jeg valgte heldigvis at tage min uddannelse i en anden møbelvirksomhed og kom først til Sika, da jeg havde noget at tilbyde”, fortæller Louise. ”Derefter gik jeg ved siden af min far i 20 år, inden vi generationsskiftede. Nu sidder jeg for bordenden, og jeg har en finger med i ALT, bortset fra IT, hvor jeg ikke føler mig klædt på. Jeg starter om morgenen klokken 6 med skypemøder med Asien og slutter om aftenen klokken 22 med møder med USA”.

The chair to the left is launched at this year’s tradeshow in Milan, the small ottoman to the right is part of the existing collection.

Sika anno 2019

Udfordringen i Louises generation er, ud over at forvalte arven på en tidssvarende måde og at få virksomheden til at vokse, at arbejde med brandpotentialet og brandiscenesættelsen og at formidle det til verden.
Hun balancerer sin egen hang til det bløde og det feminine med branchens efterspørgsel efter skandinavisk minimalisme og lykkes i den sammenhæng rigtig godt med den kollektion af designklassikere, ”Icons”, som Sika søsatte i 2013. Her taler vi om design af Arne Jacobsen, Jørgen & Nanna Ditzel og flere andre. Det er en kollektion, som løbende udvides.

Jeg spottede f.eks en nyhed, som vises dette år i Milano! Sikas-Designs klassiske linje ”Originals” er der absolut heller intet at udsætte på, kurvemøbler klæder en hver indretning!


Cafeen i Kerteminde

Lad os starte med at spise frokost på vores cafe i Kerteminde, foreslog Louise, da vi bestemte at træffes! Cafeen er en af den entreprenante Louises mange tiltag. Som sin farfar har hun ikke langt fra tanke til handling. En samtale med en bekendt under en biltur endte få dage efter i et lejemål og en plan om at åbne fælles cafe. ”Helt ærligt” siger Louise, ”jeg manglede selv en cafe i Kerteminde. Møblerne havde jeg jo, og min mand, som lever af at opkøbe og restaurere fiskerhuse i Kerteminde, kunne være behjælpelig med ombygningen”. Den daglige drift varetages af Louises kompagnon og foruden at være cafe, så er stedet også udstillingsvindue for Sikas møbler og for en brugskunstkollektion, som Louise lige så spontant overtog for et par år siden efter en netværksbekendt, som havde slået et for stort brød op!


Nye tider

På vej fra Kerteminde til Rynkeby taler vi i bilen om udviklingen i branchen og om udfordringen og glæden ved at forstå og at følge med i stedet for at gøre forandringen til sin fjende.

Louise siger ikke overraskende, at den største forandring er, at traditionel detailhandel er en hensygnende. Derimod har indretningsarkitekterne kronende dage som formidlere af møbelsalg, og de, som kan navigere på sociale medier, vinder stort. Det betyder ikke, at der ikke er butikker, som klarer sig godt. Men de, som klarer sig, er de, som virkelig investerer sig selv i at give kunden en helhedsoplevelse, og de som kan agere på mange platform både fysisk og virtuelt.

Bonus info: Rattan er modsat bambus ikke er hult, men massivt, hvilket gør det meget stærkt og anvendeligt til møbler. Rattan er hurtigt voksende og derfor meget bæredygtigt. Rattan har været brugt i flere århundreder til møbler i mange kulturer.

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