On a recent trip of mine, I was talking to my fellow travel companion about sending home a postcard to our moms, just like in the old days. We never did, send a letter that is, but it made me think about when I used to live in London in my early 20s. Back then, emails was not something we all had, or maybe we had one, but we didn’t really use it everyday. I remember I had to go to an Internet café, pay an hourly rate and then you could surf the net. Anyway, instead of emails, we sent letters to each other – I still have them all, and bring them out once in a while. I know it is a bit nostalgic, but even though we have all the tools to make the days easier; iPhones, computers, etc. I still like to have something on a piece of paper, like my weekly blog calendar and notes. And honestly I actually miss getting that handwritten letter from friends and family on holiday somewhere in the world.
Luckily there are people out there just like me, people who still like their stationaries. Signe Bertelsen and Julie Warberg are two of them. They are truly a couple of fireballs, you know it the minute you meet them. They are the two entrepreneurs behind the Danish stationary brand KARTOTEK. I met them this summer at northmodern and had a talk about their ideas, dreams, books, movies and which Instagramers they follow.
Tell in short, what is Kartotek and who are Signe and Julie?
KARTOTEK is a Copenhagen-based stationery brand, which the two of us, Julie and Signe, founded in 2014. We have been friends for more than 10 years, and together we launched our first collection in the Spring of 2015 with a range of paper products including notebooks, notepads, greeting cards and calendars.
What is your background?
We met each other in 2002 when we began our studies at the University of Copenhagen and have been friends ever since. We graduated in political science and psychology, following which we both worked for many years within management and business development. In 2014 we decided to follow our dreams, and we created KARTOTEK.
How would you describe DNA?
In essence, KARTOTEK is about the appreciation of simplicity. It is about the mood created when quality and aesthetics combine. Paper is tactile, drawing us, for a moment in time, into a special space. For us, KARTOTEK is about bringing analogue items back in our modern, hyper digital lives.
Which is your favourite product?
Ooh, it’s hard to choose!
Julie: For the time being, I use the Forest Notebook for my everyday work notes and always keep a to-do list close by.
Signe: I have been looking for a way out of my iPhone calendar for years, and our new Monthly Planner Notebook really saves me.
What do you love most about your job?
We love building up our company. There are so many different tasks during a day, from designing new products, taking care of the manufacturing process to managing orders or taking care of administrative stuff. And we actually really enjoy all of it because it takes the company new ways every day, every week, every month!
What has been the greatest challenge being an entrepreneur?
Once you decide to quit your job and follow your dream, you get very dedicated to achieving your goals. Sometimes this means forgetting to pause for a while, take a step back, and celebrate what you have achieved so far. But it is important to do so once in a while, in order to regain the energy to keep going.
What have been your greatest achievements?
We are very proud to say that, after only one year on the market, we had 100 retailers in 14 countries.
What are your biggest regrets?
When you build up a business you have to accept the fact, that mistakes will be made. Mistakes are only a problem for us, if we make them twice. No big regrets yet J
What do you dream about?
Our dream is to see KARTOTEK grow into a recognized design brand on the international scene.
What is the first thing you think about Monday morning?
Our weekly planner! We have a very busy schedule, and we start every week by planning our day to day schedule with our weekly planner.
What country have you always dreamt about visiting?
Julie: I have never been to South America and have so many countries on my wish list. But I would probably start in Brazil or Argentina.
Signe: Tokyo and Tel Aviv are definitely on my top list of cities I would like to visit. And besides visiting Tokyo, I would love to travel around in Japan in general.
We both love Berlin and have been there many, many times. In addition to Berlin, New York, Seoul, Los Angeles and Paris are in our top 5.
For fashion we love Dover Street Market in London and Collette in Paris. For our homes we love The Apartement in Copenhagen for furniture, home decor and interior design and Artilleriet in Göteborg for kitchen decor.
Which book are you reading at the moment?
Julie: Jonathan Franzen Purity
Signe: Kaspar Colling ‘Den danske borgerkrig’
What is your favourite (music) track at the moment?
Julie: Jamilla Woods, VRY BLK
Signe: Bon Iver, Holocene and MØ, Final Song
What is your favourite movie of all times?
Julie: Grand Budapest Hotel
Signe: Hard to choose. I am a big Leonardo-fan, and I love most of the movies he has acted in. I loved Boyhood!
Three blogs or Instagramers you follow?
We love the famous American fashion blogger Leandra Medine behind @manrepeller, we love the very talented illustrator @saarmanche and our favourite city walker Nana Hagel, always capturing serene and delicate pictures @nana_ha
Dries van Noten for their prints and silhouette in fashion. The design duo Muller van Severen for their color themes and essentialist approach to furniture.
Art, good design and textiles inspire us a lot. We love simplistic graphic design from the last century. One of the sentences you would hear most often in our design process is “could we make it more simple?” Our vision is to create a Danish stationery brand that reflects the Scandinavian simplicity with a modern and yet classical graphic touch; and to combine this with high quality paper and good craftsmanship.