Today, I am absolutely delighted to be able to introduce you to a new British online retailer that only launched at the end of October (2019). Shekåbba The Danish Home is run by husband and wife Dan and Rosanna Chapman and only stocks Danish homewares and gifts. As the company is so new, I wanted to find out more about it and about the founders so an interview seemed to be the perfect way to let Dan and Rosanna introduce themselves.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What were you both doing before you founded Shekåbba?
We were both working in London and met on a weekend trip to Cornwall with friends (not knowing we would end up married and living there a few years later). I was teaching and Rosanna was working in Canary Wharf. She now enjoys mothering our little daughter Ava with number two on the way in April. A few years ago, we made the decision to pack up our home in London and move to live beside the sea in Cornwall, where we are now.
What made you decide to set up Shekåbba and sell Danish homewares?
The inception of Shekåbba came from a deep desire to pursue my dreams and take a dive into the entrepreneurial seas. During my time as a primary school teacher, I felt more alive when designing our home and exploring the interior design of hotels, cafes and others’ houses. Encouraged by Rosanna (and my inner Italian man) I finally made the step out of teaching to pursue my creative dream of starting Shekåbba. It was ‘all in,’ huge risks, lifetime investments, savings etc, but to me it was worth every penny to leave safety and pursue raw vision.
We were really inspired by ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Mike Wiking which explores the Dane’s passion for togetherness, home and simplicity. The home is their hub so they pour time and effort into making it stylish and cosy. After discovering beautiful Danish homewares, we caught a vision to create an online shop for Danish design to inspire this way of life. We are very selective of what we choose and want to maintain the brand’s unique look by starting small and expanding collections carefully.
Where did your shared love and passion for Danish home design come from?
We love to explore interior boutiques, shops and hotels wherever we go in the world. The look that we consistently gravitate towards is rustic and natural with splashes of warm vintage colours. We are discovering more Danish brands that reflect this desired homeware look. For us, learning of the Danish way of life behind these beautiful products makes them pregnant with both beauty and meaning.
Denmark is often cited as the happiest country in the world. Any idea what makes the Danes so happy?
From our understanding, it can be summarised by two words: simplicity and priority. In terms of simplicity, slowing down to cherish togetherness with friends and family. Celebrating the small things of daily life and finding ways of making your normal, enjoyable. For example, many Danes light candles in the office or design a cosy corner in their homes to enjoy a book.
In terms of priority, the Danes generally choose time with loved ones above other things. In the Danish workplace, it is normal to leave at four or five and people think you are mad if you work on the weekend. The Danes are renowned for a healthy work-life balance and we hope to inspire their way of life here in Britain.
Your mission is to introduce others to the people-centred happiness of the Danish home. What makes the Danish home different from the British home, for example?
Britain today is amazingly diverse so you can’t generalise. Some aspects of Danish life that we found fascinating, is the priority of how money is spent. Culturally, the Danes spend more money on their home to make it stylish and visually pleasing because they spend more time living and socialising there (rather than in bars and restaurants etc). The home is the centrepiece of their lives, the place where loved ones and simple routines are treasured. We want to learn from the Danes and adapt to be more home and people focussed too.
Can you tell us a bit about your own home?
We fell in love with a 19th-century cottage in rural Cornwall and are enjoying restoring it together. It has been great fun rising to the challenge to maintain it’s character, whilst adding modern touches. In the living room, we installed a feature log burner and painted the walls a bold red to compliment the original dark beams. Take our word for it, it’s very cosy on a cold winter’s night.
We have an open plan kitchen with low beams which is cosy when having friends around for dinner. We love to host our families and make their stay special by heating up croissants for breakfast and rolling their towels on their beds. We are continually working on new ideas for our home and are in the process of an exciting extension to our ground floor, beginning in the new year.
Shekåbba only stocks products that have been designed in Denmark. How do you go about sourcing your product range? Where do you find the home decor designers and artists whose work you sell?
By visiting UK boutiques and following recommendations from our contacts in Denmark, we have discovered a range of Danish homewares that we love. We look through the hundreds of products and carefully select the items that fit Shekåbba’s unique, warm and rustic look. We are passionate to only sell items that we believe are of the best quality and would buy for our own home.
Hygge has become an increasingly popular lifestyle trend over the past few years. Why do you feel people are being drawn to this particular concept?
We think hygge’s growing popularity is a response to today’s culture of instant technology, results-driven careers and a decrease in face-to-face communication. Many people are craving more togetherness and starting to pursue slower living and authentic community. The Danish hygge movement encompasses all of these desires and gives a name to a deep longing that many of us have.
What are your top tips for crafting a home that becomes a hub of love and warmth?
We look forward to dinner every day as we enjoy homecooked food and family time. On the weekend, we make it more special by eating our favourite meals and adding in cheeky extra courses. We regularly invite friends’ round to share in these joys.
Lighting candles creates a warm atmosphere and we tend to only turn on lamps (not ceiling lights as they are too bright). Rosanna has a mug obsession to the point where I need to check which mug she is in the mood for – she is convinced this enhances her quality of life.
We have found that being clean and clutter-free is a great starting point for a relaxing home. Clearing shelves of any clutter like magazines or DVDs and replacing them with eclectic items such as photos, house plants, meaningful objects, vases or old vintage books adds character to the rooms.
What is next for Shekåbba?
We are going to go to Copenhagen to search for new homeware designers and artists to partner with. We plan to broaden our collections across the board e.g. adding rustic glassware, a greater variety of stunning textiles (especially cushions) and a unique candle selection from another Danish designer we have discovered.
I’d really like to thank Dan for taking the time to tell us about his new venture and wish him and Rosanna all the best with Shekåbba. I have no doubt it is going to be a big hit. I absolutely love the earthy colour palette and the rustic charm of their Danish homewares range. What do you guys think? Will Shekåbba be added to your list of go-to online retailers?