Family and community
Cooee Design is one of the leading brands in home interior and accessories across Scandinavia. Born in the woods of Småland in the village of Lagan, they are surrounded by other companies supporting each other’s growth. The company is a family-run business that Catrine Åberg founded with support from her brother Henrik and father Lars. But there is no hierarchy – they all run it together.
The Cooee offices in Lagan are filled with buzz and energy. Småland has an entrepreneurial ring to it, as the place where companies such as IKEA were born and boomed. There is a grit, passion and a no-nonsense attitude in the air.
“One can start talking to friends about private stuff, but it quickly turns into the businesses we run and the obstacles we face,” says Henrik Åberg. “There is always a helping hand, because everybody wants to support each other. And there are many successful enterprises here. You can see that just by looking out the window of our office!”
Since its birth in 2007, Cooee has had great success internationally. But again, the roots are very much Småland.
“I find shapes and colours in nature that I bring to our products, like the changing colour nuances of heather. We love organic shapes – the softer lines of a product,” says Catrine Åberg. “These lines cannot always be created in CAD, so for certain products we produce them first in wood. When you hold them in your hands, they become living products.”
Hit the ground running
The Åberg family also consists of Catrine’s mother Britt, who has been on the road with her to sell Cooee’s products and concepts to customers in several countries. If you ask who’s CEO, the family members all agree that a title like that is not necessary.
“If you are a family business, you do what has to be done. It is not as if you have a one-task job,” says Lars Åberg, who has a history of building successful businesses. “We find the best in each other and get the work done. We don’t need the hierarchy.”
This non-hierarchical approach can also be seen among many other NOD companies, for example Kids Concept:
“All our employees are very ambitious and engaged in their special areas, and we always cooperate as one team across departments,” says Anna Enander, co-founder of a design company founded in 2007 called Kids Concept, which today has 15 employees. A reason for Kids Concept’s way of organizing their business was the founders’ own experiences from larger retail companies, which often had long decision-making processes and many middle managers. “We prefer short decision paths and quick action,” says Råberg.
“I think this way of working colors the whole NOD Group,” says Therese Hillman, CEO of NOD. “Many of the brands in NOD are undergoing rapid growth. It is critical to be able to hit the ground running. We partner with the founders, who continue to be co-owners, and make sure that NOD supports them in all aspects of their journey. But the network we offer is just as important. There are many synergies and experiences to be exchanged here, so the companies can collaborate and learn from each other.”