In 2012, Swedes Isabella Löwengrip (an entrepreneur and genuine social media influencer) and Pingis Hadenius (previously a financial analyst and Elle magazine publisher) founded a beauty venture, Löwengrip, which in just a few years has become one of the leading beauty brands in Scandinavia. Separately successful in their own rights, their combined expertise in the finance, media and beauty industries have perfectly brought about international brand recognition and growth in a highly saturated marketplace.
Löwengrip and Hadenius have been business partners on numerous ventures for over nine years. Together, they have written and published books on financial literacy, are at the helm of eight companies, and have over 70 employees. Their most prominent enterprises are Löwengrip Beauty, Nordic Tech House, Flattered, Stylein and Brand Bassador.
Speaking at a combined Swedish Australian Chamber of Commerce and Sydney School of Entrepreneurship gathering of 200 attendees this week, Löwengrip and Hadenius spoke openly and honestly about all aspects of building an empire together.
How has their success come about?
In summary, their approach is that building a business case by just sitting at your desk will not get it launched. There is no perfect moment for launching. Just launch and go for it with everything you have.
Different but compatible skill sets
Each brings something unique to the table, but when combined they have all aspects of a business covered. Hadenius stated that their roles in the company are completely separate and both have clearly identified roles. This strategy started from when they commenced business undertakings together and continues to this day. They hold the very Scando approach of appreciating directness for true agility.
Although both are unique, by the end of the talk it is obvious they have many things in common, primarily a driving energy and passion for what they do. Although passion is an often quoted reference, they believe without it everything is a struggle. When you read their resumes, and meet them in person, it becomes obvious that whatever business they decide to start would move past a start-up phase.
Listen and learn
Their followers have a significant influence when building on their good ideas. Through close cooperation with their customers they have developed a range of products under the Löwengrip brand. Löwengrip creates its own product recipes, rather than repackaging like many others, and are formulated with real users, through a process of detailed social media communication and feedback. Not just relying on marketing, but good old fashioned customer feedback. Yes, if done genuinely it remains one of the best ways to keep clients interested and to grow your business. This approach also means they have control over potentially valuable intellectual property.
Their honesty over small and large stumbles they have had along the way was refreshing. Their passion and energy for what they do, along with truly knowing themselves has overcome those stumbles.
Culture and support
Their openness on the difficulty of being leaders was refreshing. Both hold the view that entrepreneurs make good visionaries but not necessarily great leaders of people. They were both honest enough to admit neither felt they were great leaders merely because of their success. Nonetheless they know they must lead the culture within the business. They rely on a very open and transparent approach that is typical of Swedish companies.
Employing over seventy people, they believe the team behind the idea is more important than the idea itself. They have brought together a range of skilled people ranging from 18 to 70 years of age. This includes convincing an ex-boss of Hadenius to come out of retirement.
The business keeps their employees engaged, inspired and challenged by offering them the option of doing something different every six months. While both felt that being mentored at the outset is great for young entrepreneurs can be a great thing, inspiration does and should come from many sources. Given inexperienced entrepreneurs of potentially successful start-ups fall over by failing to onboard experience at the appropriate time, their approach ensures a spread of talent, energy and experience across their businesses.
They believe having a strategic fit with investors is an imperative and when they do bring on investors they should not just be viewed as a source of capital. If it is the wrong fit, don’t do it. Both believe that the need for such a strategic fit means that crowd funding is a genuine option for young entrepreneurs, as is developing a trusting relationship with their bank. Start small, don’t over capitalise and only give shares as a last resort.
Although the purpose of this article is to write about business partnerships and the experience of successful entrepreneurs, the Löwengrip range of products are available at Myers. They are deliberately subtle, don’t smell too strongly, are good for sensitive skin, and are 100% tested on humans only. Yes I tried the in-store testers, and no I wasn’t paid to say good things, but I would recommend them for all those reasons.
Article by Charles Watson