MILAN — “What I like about it is that you can do things you can use,” said Monica Kylén, cofounder of the Swedish organic cosmetics brand L:A Bruket, which she established with Mats Johansson in 2008.
Only this time, Kylén was not referring to her beauty biz — which in 2019 got an investment by French fund Experienced Capital Partners — but to pottery, a discipline she came across with when she was looking for “where to go with my life when I was very young.” While she explored different arts, including painting, a pottery class ended up triggering a passion she has been cultivating ever since.
Functionality is at the very core of her enduring love of the craft, as she likes to create useful items when it comes to clay — especially tools for the kitchen — just as she does when developing beauty formulations. “The creative process is the same whatever I do, be it beauty or interior design or ceramics: I don’t like to do unnecessary things,” Kylén said.
With an expansive portfolio divided into face, body and hair care and home products, L:A Bruket is rooted in uncomplicated formulas focused on natural elements rather than high-tech implementations. Inspired by nature, the harshness of the climate and the 200-year-old spa heritage of the founders’ coastal town of Varberg, the brand leverages local traditional sea therapy practices — such as seaweed bathing — to offer treatments that use sustainably sourced seaweed and algae as key active ingredients, among others.
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With the same natural approach, it was only a matter of time before Kylén’s hobby and business crossed paths. Last year, she developed a limited-edition series of candle holders. The 100 items she handcrafted held six different scented candles, ranging from cilantro to grapefruit-based fragrances, retailing at 190 euros each.
“It was a fun project: To think about the design, shape and products around it, it was a very playful moment. And the customers loved it, we sold out really quickly,” Kylén said.
Encouraged by the response, Kylén said she would like to have more time to dedicate to pottery. “The dream would be to do it part time but I can do it for maximum two days per week right now,” she said.
In addition to its pragmatic side product-wise, pottery also provides a moment of reflection for Kylén, who underscored the importance of working solo to better focus and get in touch with her inner self in order to find the right inspiration during the creative process.
“I don’t know exactly where [the inspiration] comes from, I just have my eyes and ears open all the time. I’m a big thinker, I like to spend a lot of time on my own and with pottery this is really my own time,” she said.
This meditative approach is another common denominator with L:A Bruket, as the cofounder believes that taking time for herself is necessary and “part of my job” especially in the current global context. “I’m thinking about what is happening in the world and that affects the ideas, product development or communication of our brand,” she said, highlighting that COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are among the factors that “make you think twice about how to run your life…what really is important and meaningful. And that influences how we want to move the brand forward.”
Self-reflection and patience are virtues pottery helped Kylén to perfect, too. “To work with the clay is very difficult. It’s a super tricky material, the learning process took, like, 10 years, and that gave me the knowledge that things need time and go up and down a lot,” she concluded.