Company founder Anton Sandqvist says he got the idea to start the label in 2004, after getting tired of carrying his laptop to work every day in an unstylish bag.
“I spent a lot of effort thinking about looks and style, but I didn’t want to pay 5,000 kronor ($660) for a bag,” Sandqvist says.
“So I made a bag by myself and started using it, and people were asking where I got it.”
As more and more people began to ask him where he’d purchased the bag, Sandqvist decided to start producing more and try to sell them. While his training in fashion consisted of an elementary school class in sewing, his background in business helped him build a customer base and reputation of quality.
“I was one of the few guys who chose to study sewing,” Sandqvist recalls.
“I learned some basics and I used my mom’s sewing machine. I haven’t been afraid to try. There’s a lot of work behind it, but I think we expected there would be growth.”
The first shop to carry his bags was Stockholm’s boutique Grandpa, which Sandqvist says was supportive of his endeavour, and sales have been rising continuously ever since. While the company was founded originally to sell men’s bags, it will launch its first line of women’s bags in spring 2010 and many of its current designs can be considered unisex.
“There was a hole in the market, there weren’t many nice bags if you’re not a businessman,” Sandqvist recalls.
“We are trying to make bags to use for everyday life, that are good quality and are affordable. We aren’t trying to be Louis Vuitton and not H&M. We want a decent price range. We design stuff for ordinary guys who don’t wear suits everyday but are still interested in looks and fashion.”
Sandqvist says that to keep up with customer demands, he now works with designers and consultants to assist him. His bags are carried in over 40 Swedish shops, including Stockholm’s reputable NK, Pub and Warehouse. Sandqvist Accessories also has its own website, where individuals can purchase bags, which can then be shipped globally.
“Our bags are designed in Stockholm, produced in India and China, and sold around the world,” Sandqvist says.
“If someone loves crazy colours and odd shapes they probably wont like our bags, because we are simplistic and Scandinavian. Our customers are people who live in the city, are about 20 to 50 years old, are caring about details and interested in style, fashion and functionality.”
Having moved to Stockholm from the central Swedish town of Örebro in 1996, Sandqvist says he now balances his time between his career and taking care of two children, ages seven and four months – and it’s the best of both worlds.
“I want to have a lot of fun and make a lot of living out of it,” Sandqvist says.
“The reason I started was that I was a bit bored with my other work. I wanted to do something for myself. That mission is basically completed. The next step? I don’t know…hopefully make Sandqvist a world-wide known brand.”