How did the two of you meet?
(Karin Berg) - We met at at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway in 2001, so we have been together almost 20 years now. How time flies!
How did it all start with Berg & Berg? Why did you decide to start the company?
(Mathias Berg) - I had worked as a consultant within PR and Communications and felt and urge to work with real products rather than memos and powerpoint presentations. I thought it would be interesting to try to start something on my own, and with a keen interest in style, this was a natural place to start. In the beginning I still had a different day job, but after a few years, when the company started to grow, it gradually became a full time job.
(KB) - At least for Mathias, I have kept my day job.
10 Years Anniversary
Since 2009 Berg & Berg has created products based on classic style, but from a modern, Nordic point of view. Founders Karin and Mathias Berg have built a company that respects tradition, but they have always had a greater interest in the future of menswear than the past. How did it all start and where is the company heading now? The couple tells us more about their journey and what lies ahead.
How did the two of you meet?
What was your goal and vision with the company?
(MB) - The vision was pretty clear from day one, we wanted to create a brand based on classic style and classic quality, but with a Scandinavian, or Nordic, point of view.
(KB) - In 2009 a direct to consumer, online menswear company was also a quite novel idea. It was important for us to be modern and fresh in the way we sold, distributed and marketed the brand.
Have your goal and vision for the company changed along the way?
(MB) - The company was not started with a 10 year master plan. It was kind of an experiment, in the beginning, just a hobby. We started out with accessories, ties, scarves and socks - and have gradually developed a full clothing collection, so the product mix have changed quite dramatically. However, I think that our products now are just as close to the original vision of a Nordic, modern menswear brand, perhaps even closer, than the first collection.
What has been the biggest challenge regarding building a brand?
(MB) - I think a great challenge is to maintain the balance of patience and impatience. To always be eager and have the energy to take the company forward, while still expecting results not to come immediately.
(KB) - It is easy to underestimate how long time it actually takes to build a customer base, particularly with no outside funding to spend on advertising. We are a company built brick by brick, not with hot air and ad money.
Tell us your biggest milestone during these 10 years.
(MB) - I think the most important and fulfilling part has been to add new members to the team. First out was Jacob, who worked with us from 2014 to 2019, then came creative director Andreas in 2016, which has taken the brand great leaps forward stylistically. Yoda, who now handles our fulfillment and customer service, started in the beginning of 2019, while Fabian, our new marketing manager just joined us this fall. Not to forget our former intern Filip, who still is part of the team on a freelance basis.
(KB) - I think how we now reach an international audience is quite amazing. During the early days, orders mainly came from from Northern Europe. Last year we received orders from over 75 countries. It is also special to see how many of our customers from the early days that are still with us.
(MB) - With regards to products it is fulfilling to see the development from ties and scarves to a full collection. The creation of our trouser program has been a great journey and I am also immensely proud of our knitwear, shirts, outerwear and tailoring. That we now are able to present a full look, our view of modern menswear, is an achievement we are very proud of.
Would you consider Berg & Berg as a luxury brand?
(MB) - We are not interested in a luxury lifestyle per se. Berg & Berg has always been about the products, and yes in some way, great quality items could be described as a luxury. However, it is not a term I would use to describe the way I feel about the brand. I am not particularly interested in luxury hotels, yachts or cocktails. Berg & Berg is not about projecting status, our belonging to a particular social class. It is rather about a mindset, a way of looking at style and an approach of how to run a modern clothing business.
(KB) - We certainly have higher prices than high street chains. But from the start we have strived to always provide great value for money. We work relentlessly with product development, use specialist manufacturers, buy fabrics from the most respected mills, don’t skimp on buttons, zippers and other details and always make sure our products are made in conditions we can be proud of. All of this comes at a cost, but it is certainly worth it. I know our many returning customers feel the same way.
Starting a brand as a married couple is not very common. What have been your biggest challenges from a personal perspective? Are there any advantages to own a company together as a couple?
(MB) - The greatest challenge is perhaps to take some time off, not let the business take over every aspect of life. It think we are much better at compartmentalizing now than in the early days, though. In the beginning every order was a cause of celebration, and every evening with low sales was a cause of worry!
(KB) - It definitely is an advantage too, though. We know that we are always in this together, no matter what!
What’s coming up next? What can customers expect to see in the future?
(MB) - I think the collection is getting stronger season by season. Last year we added outerwear, which was a great hit, this year we are really happy to add made in Sweden denim to the collection. I am more interested in further refining what we have at the moment than to add new categories. Shoes could be interesting at some point, though. I know Andreas (creative director Andreas Larsson) have some ideas about this too.