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After a recent sojourn to Stockholm, I came back obsessed with Scandinavian fashion and design. On my return trip, my luggage was embarrassingly full of home goods—white and gold votives with clean lines, minimal and effortlessly edited tops, and, of course, plenty of tea towels (Swedes love few things as much as their home decor).
But such design can be hard to come by stateside, even in a place like New York City, which meant that when I heard about Tictail—an online marketplace founded by native Stockholmer Carl Waldekranz—I was intrigued.
The online marketplace, which was founded three years ago by Waldekranz, functions under the same idea as Etsy but without being so “hobbyist,” as the CEO tells me.
“What we found was that a lot of independent brands, especially in fashion and home design, have graduated from the kitchen table,” he says. “They have a backer, a warehouse, and they have plans; they’re just not mainstream.”
But aside from Etsy, there was no real option for an online marketplace.
And so, Tictail was born. In fact, it was also a way for Waldekranz to help his mother peddle her porcelain wares (she draws sailor-inspired art on things like teapots to great effect, and you can shop By Mutti on Tictail).
Waldekranz got local artists and designers from around Stockholm to sign up, quickly growing from a niche shop to one that has since raised more than $22 million in venture capital funding, not to mention major celebrity attention from the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé.
And Tictail now represents more than one million products and 100,000 designers and artists in 140 countries and counting.
For Waldekranz, the idea was to develop a signature style for online shops. Nothing kitschy, nothing overdone. Kind of like the Swedish concept of lagom, which loosely translates to “just enough,” the clothes, photographs, baubles, and books you can get on Tictail are all—well—curated and cool.
“There’s a certain style to Tictail that comes down to our Scandinavian background,” he tells me. “We like brands that have an elevated, open design but brands that tell a story.” Each “store” has a short bio and tells you where the business is based.
“We really wanted to answer why they started their company, what are their ambitions,” Waldekranz says. “And we want to tell their stories. You’re not shopping products; you’re supporting local business in a deeper meaningful way.”
That’s not to say there’s not humor wrapped up in all of that: A line of prints from New York City artist Timothy Goodman offers scripts like “Sharing your feelings is dope as hell” (which, of course, it is).
And for the holidays, Tictail has opened up not one but three pop-up holiday shops—one in New York City, one in Paris, and one, of course, in Stockholm—all featuring a curated selection of men’s and women’s fashions and (naturally) home goods.
I popped by the NYC holiday market in Manhattan’s Lower East Side ahead of its opening last week to check out some of the offerings, and I was not disappointed.
Among the usual home wares (throw blankets, coasters, and decorating tchotchkes), there were little objects full of fun Swedish design, like an aluminum bucket that can be used for kitchen or desk storage. There are boutique fashion brands offering loose dresses, tailored jeans, and some seriously cozy-looking cashmere beanies, which I was eyeing for the long winter ahead.
True, the shop is limited in the way an online e-tailer isn’t (there are only a select few designs and objects in the store), but that’s part of the fun—it’s kind of like a cool friend already edited down the selection for you.
Still, Tictail is first and foremost an online marketplace. Waldekranz calls it an “ongoing experiment” between online and offline shopping and a way to discover niche designers before they become big.
Either way, we’re sold.