When you think of the Norwegian fjords, what are the scents that come to mind? “The land around the fjords is actually some of the most fertile land in Norway,” founder Shaun Russell explains, “and much of the fruit and berries that are enjoyed in Norway are grown in that fjord-land.” If one were to stick one’s nose into a fjord (theoretically, of course), notes of wood, water, fruits, blackcurrant, and raspberry flowers would be present. It would smell, in fact, quite like the FJORD series by Skandinavisk, which now extends to include candles, diffusers, washes, lotions, creams, and soap.
Skandinavisk is a Danish fragrance brand founded in 2012 by a Brit living in Copenhagen. Though the initial product collection was a series of unscented candles, within six months of launching the brand introduced scented versions to attract an international audience.
“We started with three scents: Skog (forest), Hav (ocean), and Hygge since, for me, that is the essence of Scandinavia – to be surrounded by wood and water and to create this ideal way of life.”
“The original idea was to make the candles largely for export, which is why we were distilling Scandinavia in this way. What we really wanted to do was find a way to share the best parts of Scandinavia with a global audience; we wanted to encourage people around the world to look into the things that make Scandinavia great – respect for nature, everyday happiness, work-life balance, for example – and try to incorporate it into their own lives,” Shaun says.
So while they were looking to bring Scandinavia to the rest of the world, what they weren’t counting on was the eager response from inside Scandinavia. The warm reception may be in part because the scents remind those in Scandinavia of the landscapes and nature they’re closest to, but is almost certainly also partly because of the beauty of the products themselves. “I wanted to use colour very explicitly, and I wanted to use a graphic style. Most importantly, I wanted to use Scandinavian words and celebrate these languages; they’re not languages that typically get celebrated,” Shaun laughs. “On a recommendation, I went to Danish design agency, e-Types, and the team just nailed it on the first go. In fact, one of the designers from there, Line, has since become our Creative Director and she has been improving and evolving that visual identity ever since.”
As for their sourcing, they make it a policy to produce everything inside the European Union, and as much as possible, in Scandinavia. The full hand and body care collection is produced in Denmark and Sweden, as is their new packaging card, sourced from managed Swedish forests. Glass is sourced from Poland or Portugal; the perfume is produced in Grasse, France to exacting briefs.
For the candles, they currently use three different wax blends, and are experimenting with a fourth that includes Swedish rapeseed. “The problem with the rapeseed-based wax is that it doesn’t hold as well as a paraffin-based wax,” Shaun explains. “We combine with small quantities of food-grade paraffin as a stabiliser, which is also the byproduct of an existing industry. So we’re trying to be conscious of many things, but we’re a small company, so we don’t necessarily have leverage to change the industry. For us it’s about making the best choices possible, being transparent about it, and encouraging customers to ask those questions of us and other brands.”
Differentiating themselves as a high-quality fragrance and body care company has been an ongoing process. Though they started with three scents, they’ve now grown considerably. Scents have come and gone, while others have become customer-favourites.
They’re now looking to both expand their offerings and tweak some of the older scents. “Hav,” for example, will get a makeover in 2019, with an iteration called “Hav: Distant Shores.” “It’s a perfect fragrance for the skin; a cold marine,” says Shaun. “There is so much potential in our existing collection. We want to have a really strong permanent collection, while also making sure to experiment. 2018 was a very big for us because it was our entry into perfume for the skin. We want a balanced collection of home and body fragrances, so we’re launching another 12 skin products this season.”
It’s clear from our conversation that Skadinavisk sees itself as a conduit for communicating what makes Scandinavia special in a way that both captures specific scents, but also an overall ethos and atmosphere.
“Ultimately,” Shaun says, “we’re not perfumers, but we’re dedicated to bringing Scandinavia to life through perfume.” Those who have taken a sniff of their candles and body care would agree that they’ve succeeded.
See more on Skandinavisk.
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