Despite fur literally flying around and the exhibition being as packed as ever, it was almost impossible not to notice Jan Erik Carlson, the former marketing director of Saga Furs.
Over our quick chat, he managed to tell me all the latest updates in the Nordic fur industry, but most importantly we talked about his new business venture “Carlson Advice”.
It’s no secret that Jan Erik is one of the so called “fur veterans”. Even when he stepped down from his position at one of the leading fur auction houses, he did not like the thought now he would have to work with something other than fur. His passion for this luxury product was not over.
Having worked for 20 years with design innovation in fur, marketing projects and business development on a global scale, he could see the on-going demand for creativity and business innovation.
Jan Erik admitted that what initially attracted him to Saga Furs was a strong brand with a very interesting challenge in front of it.
“I joined Saga Furs exactly at the moment when the company was thinking about how to leave its old-fashioned furriers world and bring fur into the fashion industry. When I joined, coming from the advertising industry, I had a different perspective on the task compared to most people who were already working inside the company. “
“I could see the potential of the wonderful creativity that Saga Furs had, which was really outstanding in terms of innovation and design. But that was also the moment when I realized that it was not just something the Saga Furs people could do on their own, it was really something we had to do hand in hand with the fashion companies as well as with the fur trade.”
When looking back at his role, Jan Erik is confident that his strong strategic mind-set was instrumental in making key business connections and building up a strong communications plan for Saga Furs. Moving forward with his new company, he believes that this experience will be an invaluable asset pursuing his new career path in the fur trade and fashion industry.
“We have always had good people working at the Saga Furs Design Centre, and we created a strong partnership with the fur industry. That was essential.”
“Despite some hard times, it got easier. At the beginning, the issue really went to the image of fur, the image of the grandmother’s coat – the A shape mink coat that nobody wanted at the beginning of the 90’s. The whole industry was in crisis.”
“We really had to push the strategy that fur was actually a magic material unlike any other fabric.“
“Presently, when the global fur markets are on the track to recovery after some difficult seasons, I can see the business value of my personal experience and the creativity of my many freelance contacts. I have now launched a business concept to harness this outstanding value, and offer it to selected clients as a business tool.” says Jan Erik Carlson.
Jan Erik has recently established The Copenhagen based company, Carlson Advice – a creative consultancy operating with a network of the most innovative and experienced fur designers, furriers and technicians. The company specializes in bringing the leading creative and marketing minds of the fur world together in a freelance concept, that links cutting-edge innovation with bottom-line results.
“I still have a lot passion for fur. I spent the last 20 years of my life promoting it, working with it and innovating it. Somehow, I feel that I am not finished with fur, and when I now approach the fur industry, I will primarily focus on creating partnerships with some of the companies that need and value design innovation.”
“The fur industry is not the most innovative sector, and it still has a strong, conservative element to it. Many other industries are talking about disruption will change their business models, and I see it as my mission to provide the needed design and business innovation to the fur industry.”
“What really motivates me is the fact that I spearhead a team of strong industry representatives. My freelance team is such a strong group of creative people who either have been employed at the Design Centre or somehow were trained there. They all understand how to work with the fur product in a business-driven way, and they have the DNA of innovation in their minds”
“The freelance team and myself all share the same passion for the fur business. In fact, the team has been pushing me to start the new company, since that want to get started on some new creative fur projects.”
Jan Erik started getting serious about the new company Carlson Advice at the end of 2016. He has since then been exploring his international network in terms of tracking down some projects.
“Whenever you do something new, the first few projects are the difficult ones to make happen. At this point I have a handful of very promising projects in the making, and I am really excited about it.
“I want to give my company a strong start in fur sector. But I can also see my innovation concept working in other business areas in the luxury and fashion industries. At the end of the day, the sky is the limit!”
“This is where I do anything it takes to make it happen.