An idyllic and magical atmosphere dominates the pier of Lysaker, the location of the Holzweiler headquarters. Just a 15 minute train ride from the city centre of Oslo and you are surrounded by a sudden sense of tranquillity.
A few years ago Holzweiler was a typical creative fashion start-up as siblings Andreas and Susanne worked tirelessly to establish what is now a thriving family business. Back then Holzweiler was just a name that was a bit hard for most people to pronounce and the team was living under constant stress, but never gave up. Today Holzweiler is on everybody’s lips and is one of the leading fashion brands in Norway, with huge international success. Today the brand is represented in over 150 stores worldwide from Harvey Nichols and Liberty in London, Intermix in New York, Colette in Paris and F5 Concept Store here in Norway. They are also the first Norwegian fashion brand to be represented in the luxury online store, Net-A-Porter.com.
The showroom of Holzweiler is full of life and the team are hard at work while the sound of a mix between pop and house music plays loudly over the speakers. I feel this instant warm and loving atmosphere and can tell that Holzweiler represents so much more than just clothes, scarves and running a successful business. Two kids are playing in the lounge surrounded by crayons and drawings on the floor almost as if they were a natural part of the showroom. "They are the “future Holzweiler's!” says Susanne. Holzweiler is literally one big family. Gro “mama” and Peter “papa” Holzweiler, also play a huge part in the company. It is a lifestyle and they are all in this together complete with the same symbolic tattoo! This year Holzweiler launched a logo for their brand and as the cliché goes they had been looking for something that could represent their identity for a while, but the whole time they didn´t know that it was right in front of them. As they were discussing it back and forth, “There it is! It´s Andreas' hanger tattoo” Andreas wife and designer Maria said enthusiastically one day. The team couldn't agree more.
Andreas has a hanger tattoo on his right upper arm, his first tattoo that he got many years ago. He already knew back then that this would be his life, working somewhere in the fashion industry. The hanger now represents Holzweiler as a brand and has now become a symbol for the family. It was Gro who had the idea for her family to take the same tattoo as her son and she surprised Susanne with the tattoo as a christmas present soon after. 'As I stepped into the tattoo shop, ready to book an appointment, the people working there looked at me as I was completely lost. A woman in my age, had no business being there. "Maybe you have the wrong place?" They said. No I´m going to book an appointment for me and my daughter!' Gro tells me with a big smile and the cutest loud laugh. Later that day Gro, Susanne and Peter, who had just dropped in since he was already in the city, all walked out with fresh tattoos. Maria is now planning to take one as well. This is for me a picture of a true and genuine family!
"Maybe you have the wrong place? They said. No I´m going to book an appointment for me and my daughter!"
We all know that it can be a challenge sometimes to work so closely with the people you love the most and I ask Susanne how it feels to run a company with her brother Andreas? “Well it's definitely not like a bed of roses, the unwritten love of being siblings is a good and nice way of describing us working together” she says. Even if they have two very different personalities, they still share the same values and work ethic. Over many years, they have managed to help each other become better partners and good leaders for their team. “A very important thing Andreas taught me over the last year, is to let go. Give more responsibility to our employees, and trust that they will manage. If they don't, let them learn from their mistakes. I have been a much more controlling leader in the past” says Susanne.
Holzweiler have enjoyed a significant amount of growth over the last year as they developed and evolved their brand as well the opening of a retail venture. In fall 2016 they opened their first mono-brand store located in Hegdehaugsveien, Oslo. This was a huge milestone for the brand! “We did not dream about the big success. If someone would have told me this as we started in 2006 I would not believe them” Susanne says. Their everyday goal is to be better, and always find new ways to evolve. “Right now, I find this very fascinating, will we never be happy with where we are? Maybe we won´t, maybe that´s the only way to continue to grow?” says Susanne.
As we are living in an insecure environment and are experiencing increased negativity on a global scale, Holzweiler have decided to turn this into something positive. A huge reason why they have managed to put Holzweiler on the map, is because of this mind set. Instead of being a strict follower to the trends, trends that you don't really associate with in the first place, Holzweiler have positioned themselves as a leader and follow their heart, creating what is beautiful in their eyes. A friend of the theirs described them as hopeful people and that was a big appeal for Maria, Susanne and Andreas. “This is exactly how we feel, what we want to express and how we want to be interpreted” says Maria. Pieces from the Fall/Winter 17 collection will be featured with their new slogans “It's going to be amazing” and “Hang on to your love” as their reaction to this insecurity that is characterising the world.
All photography by Ronja Penzo