What drove Hanna's success?
"Well, mainly, at that time most kids clothes weren't designed for comfort, they didn't wear well, and there wasn't much 100% cotton, let alone the quality of cotton we were bringing from Sweden. So our timing was right. We offered a new way of dressing kids in soft, comfortable, crayon-bright clothes—we called it letting kids be kids, and since hannas lasted for more than one child, parents were willing to pay for quality, which is how I was brought up in Sweden. We started the catalog at a time when specialty catalogs were becoming popular. So that played a part, as well. And we were lucky. You should never discount luck."
Hanna fans are pretty passionate about the clothes...for some it's more than a place to get clothes, more like a relationship. Customers tell us their children are "second generation Hanna kids," so they consider us a form of family.
"You know, we poured our souls into this. Tom loved Sweden, the importance of my family there. I think he brought that alive in the catalogs. He wrote the copy and art directed, so it was through his lens that people saw us. There was a time when we were told, okay, you're too expensive, but we chose to stay with quality, rather than bringing it down in order to lower prices. It is wonderful to see that Hanna hasn't lost its soul. That says a lot, that you have stayed true to what is special about Hanna, making wonderful clothes so parents can truly hug their kids in softness."
Gun, you have always had an uncanny gift for being ahead of the curve of what's coming. At Hanna, you pioneered family-friendly workplace policies like subsidized child care for employees, as well as pushing the business towards organic cotton and Oeko-Tex certification (which tests for over 100 harmful chemicals), and the list goes on. What are you excited about right now?
"I'm working closely with a conservation organization called Ecotrust, and we're involved in a number of projects with the goal of building a new economy that restores nature and invests in people. We focus on agriculture and forestry, as well as fisheries. For example, we're part of the local food movement with farm to school projects that focus on low-income schools and preschools to ensure that kids have access to healthy, local food. It’s good for the kids, and creates new jobs as well, which is great for the local economy."