2011 December 12
Photo courtesy of Lise Aagaard View Gallery
You've heard of Bieber Fever. How about Troll Fever? That's right. Before Brooklyn Bead Box, Beads of Paradise, Fun 2 Bead, or even Beads on Fifth, there was Trollbeads, a Danish jewelry company setting records and industry firsts from coast to coast. Chic checked in with the bead behemoth and had a one-on-one with Lisa Aagaard, the mastermind behind it all.
I’m educated as a physical therapist, but I made jewelry all along. I come from a jewelry family. My father, Svend Lise, was one of the first five goldsmiths in Denmark to use the American technique called centrifugal casting. I was his apprentice for one year at his jewelry shop, Troldekugler, which began in 1976.
How did you come up with the name Trollbeads?
Originally, we were named Trollpearls. My brother, Søren Nielsen, who’s an educated silver smith, came up with it. Trolls are a part of the Danish tradition. They’re small mysterious people, of course, that live in the forest. But, they’re not really people; they’re trolls. They take life lightly. Sometimes they help you, and sometimes they teach you. If you misplace something, tradition tells you it’s probably a troll who moved it. If your children aren’t angels, parents often refer to them as trolls. It’s not that they’re naughty; it’s more that they are a little too inventive, playing tricks on you and things like that.
How are the beads made?
They’re carved out of hard wax and put in a mold. It’s called the lost wax technique. In the beginning, my brother, father, and I created every bead. I came up with the glass bead on precious metals--an industry first. By 2000, we had over 200 different beads. When we started getting copied by other bead companies, we invited ten well-known Danish jewelry designers to create signature Trollbeads to set us apart. That’s how it all started.
How many designers do you have?
We have a lot of designers creating the Trollbeads brand. Currently, we must be more than 30 now. We have designers who’ve made just one or two beads.
Who’s your typical client?
We sell to little girls and women well into their nineties. Our largest client base is somewhere in between the twenties and forties.
How’s your international presence?
We have the heaviest presence in Denmark, since the company has been there for 35 years. But we’re in about 45 countries now. We have 17 Trollbeads stores in the US alone.
Is celebrity important?
[Laughs] Not really! It’s very interesting if a celebrity is wearing our jewelry, but it’s not very important.
How does social media play a role in the brand?
It has a big role. Way before Facebook, we had customers send in pictures of the bracelets they created to the mother company in Denmark. We decided to make an invitation on our website to receive more pictures. I was so surprised how popular that was. In one hour, there were already 50 pictures. I sat there for hours watching the pictures come in. It was magic. Trollbeads also hosts The People's Bead Global Event where people from all over the world submit original designs and the winning bead gets inducted into the Trollbeads collection.
What are your busiest times of year?
Christmas is big worldwide. Valentine’s Day is big in the US. The Confirmation is very big in Denmark.
Has the economy affected your brand?
We’ve been fortunate that we’re recession proof so far!
What’s the biggest difference in the jewelry industry now compared to the seventies?
The sales channels have really changed with the internet, so it’s easier for people to inform themselves about the best product and sell their own products online. In 1976, when we just had brick-and-mortar stores, the reach of customers was smaller. People didn’t travel very far. Now, if you get someone’s attention, you have the world.
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