A sister's affair

The Eklund sisters grew up like any other small town girls, valuing family, spending time in the stable with their horses and being taught hard work pays off. They were interested in design, encouraged to express themselves freely and helped their parents with the small family business whenever they had the chance.

After graduating school in Ulricehamn they took off to compete with horses and study fashion and design in Milan. None of them was supposed to work with the family’s rug production company, the business their father had inherited from his father, it just was not for them.

Life is built by all these tiles that creates a pattern no one can predict. We collect tiles in everything we do, and all of a sudden a subject appears. This was the case with Marie and Annica and Bolon. The sisters started out in the corners and built their way into the core, and what they created, the tiles they collected became Bolon as we know it today. A design company producing flooring, having collaborated with the world's biggest names within
design, fashion and architecture, with an all Swedish production in their home town which employs over 100 people, and with a company value built on relations and joy. But the tiles Marie and Annica collected to get here weren't always the easiest to find.

How did it happen that you two joined the company?

Marie: For me it all started with me moving to Florence to study fashion and design at age 22. And when I got back home a few years later I was sure to pursue a career within fashion and fashion buying when our father asked me to design a collection for Bolon (This was the early 90s and Bolon produced rugs only) and I said ’sure’. The collection was warmly welcomed by everyone, which was great fun for me of course. It was a lot more colourful and design daring than any of the previous collections Bolon made back then. This kept me in Ulricehamn for longer than I was expecting and I started traveling around the world together with Bolon to sell the collection I had created. One collection became several and led to my first real title within Bolon which was Creative Director. One can say it was Bolon’s first steps towards the design daring company it is today. 

Annica: When Marie started out designing rugs for Bolon I was on the peak in my equestrian career. When I wasn’t in training with my own horses I worked in the stables. Then I got pregnant with Linn and was forced to slow down a bit with the horses and as I did I felt it was time for a new chapter in life. I started working extra in the factory and was taught how to work the looms together with our father and for change I also worked in the warehouse which was just on the other side the wall from the factory (and still is). When Linn came in January 1995 I moved from the looms and warehouse to the office and recep- tion. And from the reception I then changed to administration and business development. Back then we didn’t yet have computers at the office so I typed on a typing machine and faxed. It feels almost surreal to think about that now, considering the digitalization that Bolon has been through over the last couple of years. Looking back at my career within Bolon I can say that I have been working in every department except for finance which our mother was head of. But it really was a path I needed to walk and as I took the CEO role in 2003 I knew I was ready.

Marie: I get so nostalgic talking about this! It’s crazy to think that by the time
I designed my first rug collection and Annica was working night with the looms, there were only 9 people employed by Bolon. Cut to now, 25 years later where Bolon flooring is laid on every continent and we have almost 100 people working with us in Sweden only and distributors all over the world.

Annica: And to think there was a time when we weren’t even thinking about engaging in Bolon.



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