The story of LULU
LULU Copenhagen is a contemporary Danish designer jewelry brand based in Copenhagen - the Scandinavian capital of design.
Thru simple, affordable and playful design we want to inspire and empower people to stand out and live their lives with as much fun as possible.
With our mission statement - Less Is Enough - we remind ourselves and our customers to only buy our products when they really fall in love with them. The world doesn't need more unworn fashion items. This is the reason why we sell our candy ear studs one at a time.
LULU was founded in Nørrebro in Copenhagen in 2014 by the couple Anja & Rasmus Gottliebsen with a shared passion for art & design and is available in both department stores, fashion retailers and high-end boutique shops focusing mainly on the European market.
It all began a New Year's Eve a long time ago where everyone in the party should come up with two wishes for the upcoming year: Anja promised to A) Wear dresses more often and B) Build a business. Both wishes succeeded.
We were initially looking for a project that we both could find energy in. Anja always loved everything about jewelry and Rasmus had a big interest in design, so we decided to throw ourselves in to see if we could use a more product design mindset for to create jewelry.
None of us had been doing business and sales at the time so everything was unknown in everything from finding manufacturers to how to do accounting and programming webshops.
In fact, we spent the first 2 years researching and making connections and looking for manufacturers while designing for life on everything from the first collection to what we should name, finding a logo, visual identity and creating displays and packaging.
Some of the very first designs were LOVE which came in earpieces and necklace as well as TOOLS which was an earpiece set.
In the first years we also had young children and we worked full time next door (Anja as a teacher and Rasmus in the advertising industry), so finding the energy late at night and on the weekends was something to overcome, but at the same time it was so exciting to start something up together that we never decided to stop.
We exhibited at a trade show in Copenhagen for jewelry companies and Anja was visited at the booth by The Royal Princess Marie of Denmark who was very interested in the different designs. It was a wild experience to be in all the media flashlight and fun that Anja could see herself in the royal magazines afterwards.
For the first time, we exhibited LULU for a press event with the jewelry experts, sisters Pernille and Charlotte from The Jewellry Room. It was packed with all the pings from the fashion industry.
We participated in our first fashion show with models during Copenhagen Fashion Week. It took place on the roof terrace at Radiohuset at Frederiksberg and for the first time we were joined by major Danish brands such as Georg Jensen and Ole Lynggaard. It was extremely exciting and a whole new world to step into.
Until now, we had only sold online on our own webshop, as it is very difficult to sell to stores when you are yet not a known brand. It's a bit like the chicken or the egg ... But one day when we were visiting an exhibition with our kids at the National Gallery of Denmark, Anja jumped into it and went in and talked to personel in the museum shop. They liked our designs and the chemistry was great from the start, and suddenly we had our first shop on the list.
We worked at home in the living room. At night when the kids toys were put away and the kids had gone to bed, computers came out and jewelry had to be packed and designed.
We still have all the signature designs from that time in the range. Both the Marilyn necklace, the Blink line and the Robin ear arrows came to life this year.
We designed the Family earpieces that we have since expanded with several other shapes and designs. But the original idea is still the, namely that from one earpiece the other earpiece is born.
We started getting our signature jewelry in various fashion magazines. Most often as small product images together with all sorts of other accessories, but WE could see them :)
Anja quit her dayjob and went 100% into running LULU. It was exciting times for our little family as we now stood without Anjas steady monthly income and very limited revenue, but we have never regretted it, because it takes time, focus and effort to build a brand from scratch.
2015 was the year where we moved the company headquarter out of our apartment where we had been sitting in the living room and kitchen and worked until now, and into our first real office space in Kronprinsensgade in downtown Copenhagen.
One of our customers sent us pictures of Kylie Minogue wearing one of our Rorschach bracelets and the Blink ring. We felt sooooo proud.
We finally got a deal with a salesagent in Denmark and got going with presentations for shops around the country. We still have the same agent and a really great relationship with him to this day.
It was also the year when we started to get featured in more fashion magazines. We even got our Compromise necklace on a model on the front of Eurowoman - one of the biggest fashion magazines in Denmark.
The magazine IN interviewed Anja about our brand on how we live.
We designed a lot of news this year, including the Secret line which is still a succes.
We exhibited at a press event in Tivoli in Copenhagen, where Anja was visited by Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, who was very interested in the stories behind the designs.
Anja was showcased as one of 2015's Danish Business Women in the newspaper Berlingske.
We have always called ourselves LULU, but liked the playful name in the rhyme of LULU Badulla. But we found that we were probably the only ones to remember it, and people always just called us LULU anyway, so to avoid further confusion, we killed the ending and named us LULU Copenhagen instead.
In 2016, we designed Kapow, which became the next signature design and ended up as earrings, necklaces, rings and a bracelet. It is still a huge success to this day.
We also continued to develop on the Secret design this year and we launced an adjusted size of it.
We added more good dealers in Denmark who all thought it was an exciting journey to become part of.
We travelled abroad to New York and attended The Capsule Show.
Denmarks largest department store, Magasin du Nord, launched their 'Jewelry Suite' department on the ground floor and we got to large displays there to show our universe. We still have them this day.
Until now we had designed so many figurative designs that we almost had an entire Pop Art collection. All of these designs helped us to show how important art is to our company and as a constant source of inspiration.
We stopped using the brand color pink because so many of our competitors started using it. Until now we had 5 different versions of pink, but we introduced color gradients instead on both boxes, brand and displays.
We invented the first version of our JewelryOnTheGo concept (Now known as The Candyshop), which existed of a selection of pre-packaged jewelry. The SMK store was the first to test the concept and we took a lot of learnings this year to further develop it into what it is today.
We had a lot of conversations about why you are always bound to buy ear jewelry in pairs instead of one by one so you can mix different ones or just buy one. These conversations led to the birth of our now highly successful concept 'The Candyshop'.
We did our first co-lab with a photographer who we found and admired on Instagram. 'Hajman' shot a very nice series for us.
We got a visit from an interiour decoration magazine who wanted to see how the people behind LULU lived.
Read the full article here: https://www.alt.dk/mode/anja-buur-gottliebsen-lulu-copenhagen-stil-smykker-bolig
We developed further on 'The Candyshop' concept and started testing whether we could pre-pack earpieces in small square boxes ... just like when you buy perfumes and toothpaste. It's easy for customers to see what's inside the box, easy for stores to scan the barcode on the box so everyone was happy.
We re-designed the logo again.
Anja went back to school and became a certified ear piercer. This kicked off an ongoing stream of events of meet and greet in stores where customers can get their ear pierced with the The Candyshop ear studs.
We worked on prototypes on new types of products. Among other things we designed bags, caps and clutches, but so far we have not taken any of it into production. But time will show if we one day re-ignites these ideas.
We came up with the line "Less Is Enough" when trying to explain why we wanted to sell one ear stud at a time instead of pairs which is the norm. It slowly started to expand into of our CSR strategy and we began to act on it in everything we did in the company. It still is today.
We reached 80 dealers in 2019, and were now distributed across Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
We participated in the fashion weeks in Copenhagen and for the first time in Münich in Germany.
... and then we redesigned on the logo again.
Our visual identity also had a turnover this year and we returned close to the starting point: Black on white, less is enough.
It is still a 100% family owned business as we always wanted it to be. Of course, it takes longer to grow without investments, but it's a great feeling to be 100% in control of what we decide to design and produce.
We travelled to Berlin to attend PREMIUM Berlin - a huge fashion fair in Berlin. We met exciting new retailers and a lot of nice people. The same was the case for the danish fashion week. Lots of new, exciting contacts and appointments in the calendar.
Boom! And then Corona hit. It hit hard! We admit that during the first week of the shutdown, we feared for LULU's survival. All orders stopped overnight. A whole new and unknown world showed its face. Now we had to fight and innovate more than ever before. What is LULU? What are our values? etc.
The candyshop quickly expanded with small, cosy designs with the desire to spread joy. If we have to highlight one design for 2020 (besides our first Christmas design of course!!), it has to be our DATE - the little shiny coffee cup. It was by far our biggest success during the shutdown of Denmark. Friends sent coffee cups to each other with little greetings about longing and faith for a brighter future. Men and women wooed and sent a coffee cup - as an invitation to a romantic walk and talk. It was an incredibly life-affirming time, with the sweetest messages flooding the comments section of our little webshop. We are so grateful to all of you who supported us, and got us through this difficult time.
Along with the quirky designs, we continued as always with the experimental designs. Here we want to highlight our LULU Baroque, which is a freshwater pearl dipped in enamel. The enamel dip gives the serious pearl some playful edge. We are so proud of this design!
2021 was an exciting year. Corona slowed down the world, all our retailers temporarily shut down, some markets harder than others and all deliveries were delayed. No one knew the future and all we could do was prepare for a new world.
So we invested in 2 new webshops - a Swedish one and a German one - and we designed new collections, changed the logo a bit (again). Last but not least, the first lines were drawn for our brand new display system.
2021 was also the year when, together with new, talented agents and distributors, we opened markets in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This year's Christmas style was a candy cane - Sugar Cane. Sold out on 30 Nov! As a footnote, we should say that the LULU family loves Christmas and believes that at Christmas time, you should indulge in kitsch:)
At the start of 2022, Corona still played a big role, but it is also the year when the world returned to normal. That is, until Putin chose to attack a helpless Ukraine and recession suddenly took over Corona's uncertainty for the future. We had to believe in the future and launched 2 more webshops, this time in Norway and the UK (yes, we're doing it despite Brexit and all the challenges of trading outside the EU in general). Would we have done it if we knew the challenges? We look forward to looking back and asking ourselves the same question in 2023 ;)
Suddenly we had access to many retailers, including Liberty London. Furthermore, we started another exciting agency partnership with a talented Norwegian partner, who quickly made us take the stage in this beautiful country.
Our new collections were very well received by our customers and the new display system was sent out to the stores.
Although there were major challenges with air traffic over the summer and the visitor numbers therefore were low during the Danish Fashion Week, it was great to be back and greet our good customers.
Covid-19 is behind us and 2023 starts with an exciting adventure for us - both for the company and for our personal lives, as we will be moving both our headquarters and family to Paris shortly after the New Year. Here we will try to live and work for a period of time. The kids will start in an international school and we'll set up a temporary office.
And then it's time to explore Paris! Both for all its secrets and experiences, but also at one of Europe's biggest fashion fairs, Who's Next, where we showed our collections. Here we met a lot of new LULU friends and said hello to many of our existing customers and partners.
Thank you for reading our story.
Anja & Rasmus