Salt air, seaweed and surfing are part of the vibe.... Amusespot's Nora Trulsson Interviews L:A Bruket's Monica Kylén and Mats Johansson...
Sweden’s West Coast, overlooking the Kattegat, is wild and natural, dotted with rock outcroppings, small beaches and islands. Visitors come for the fresh air, the sea and to take part in generations-old spa traditions, such as a brisk swim in the salt water or a long, restorative soak in a seaweed bath.
It was the West Coast’s natural setting and age-old spa rituals that inspired Monica Kylén and Mats Johansson to start L:A Bruket, a skincare line made with natural and organic ingredients, such as sea salt, seaweed, eucalyptus, nettles, lavender and olive oil.
The couple moved to Varberg, a spa town on the coast, in the 1990s, attracted by the beautiful setting and the surfing. He was a product manager, she was in visual merchandising. Kylén began experimenting in ceramic arts and was soon producing a popular line that included soap dishes. “I couldn’t find a nice bar of soap to display on the soap dishes,” she recalls, “so I decided to make my own.” L:A Bruket was born. The name? It means “little workshop” in Swedish, with “L:A” an abbreviation for lilla, or little.
Making her own soap was no easy task in 2008, when the line was launched. “It was pretty unusual to make your own soap in Sweden,” Kylén notes, “not like in the U.S. or the U.K.” She found a woman in Gothenburg who taught her the basics, then began experimenting in the couple’s kitchen and basement.
“Monica developed tennis elbow from all the stirring and pouring,” says Johansson, who kept his corporate job for a few years until the line became established. “But our neighbors and friends loved coming over to the house because it was filled with essential oils, which smelled so good.”
Working nights and weekends, the couple suffered anxious pangs launching the line. Their son, now 18, helped with social media. “I kept thinking, what am I doing making soap?” remembers Kylén. “But we kept going.”
The line soon grew to include liquid soaps, lotions, scrubs, spa products, face oils, shampoo, as well as dried seaweed and sea salt for those seaweed soaks. Johansson and Kylén paid attention to the packaging, choosing vintage pharmacy-style brown bottles for the liquid products and simple white tubes for the creams. The products are numbered, and clinical-looking labels bear a font that looks typewritten. “We come from a visual merchandising background,” says Johansson, “so the packaging–the visual impact–is just as important to us as the ingredients.”
And the ingredients? Many are sourced in Sweden, but the couple locates herbs, oils, plants and essences from around the globe. “We use ingredients that we like,” says Kylén. “We make our products for our own pleasure–and that’s the test of what we create.”
Their newest products include candles made from organic soy and, for men, shaving cream, beard wash, beard wax and balm.
The world has started discovering L:A Bruket. The products have been selling throughout Sweden and Scandinavia, Europe and Asia. The line became available in the U.S. in 2014. Kylén and Johansson opened a retail store in Varberg and, most recently, in Stockholm.
“We’re bringing a little bit of the West Coast to the world,” says Kylén. Indeed, open a bottle, a tube or a package and you can almost smell the salt air.
Interested in L:A Bruket Products? Amusespot has the entire line in stock.
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