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As part of the Abbot Skinny 2019 female owned business series, I sat down for a casual chat with Holly from Huset. We talked about being a female entrepreneur, the history of the business and what it means to feel at home.

1. I was looking at your Instagram and you catch waves, you’re a surfing business mom.  When did you start it?  Were you always doing it?  And what brought you into Swedish design?

Holly:  I’ve been surfing since I was around sixteen years old.  Growing up in coastal Orange County wasn’t as accepted when I was a teenager compared to being a teenager today.  I think surfing was pretty much what the guys did and since it’s a beach community like Venice they were territorial.  Either I was a beach girl that observed or a surfer girl and got to hang out with the guys.

2. What brought you into Swedish design?

Holly : My parents were designers so I was constantly absorbing their influence. My dad was a custom home builder, my mom was an architect-designer with a particular style. She really likes french country. Dad, not so much.

I was exposed early on to this back and forth with them. My father would build a spec home completely from scratch and my mother would design it. Naturally, they would have disagreements on design that informed so much of my childhood. I was living in this world watching them invest time and energy into a project and building up to completion. I would be at the auctions, the conferences, really just surrounded by design. 

Huset curates fine items from the core of Swedish design with an emphasis on ‘home’ as a design concept. “Do not call Huset a smaller Ikea,’ Holly says, ‘…that would be like calling a Niemen Marcus a smaller Walmart.’ Some shots from their instagram @husethome show beautiful forms and minimalism at their best.

After I had a kid and was figuring out what to do next I asked myself if I wanted to go back and work in the film industry and realized, ”Oh my god I don’t want to do that anymore.”

3. Oh, so you had this eureka moment and ‘Huset’ was born?

Holly: Working in the film industry was a really great gig especially when I was young.  However, I’ll never forget Harvey Weinstein on a sound stage in Hollywood one day. This was the seminal moment for me.  He had this poor girl, his assistant or intern, on her hands and knees holding a paper plate for him to use as an ashtray.  It was so disgusting and I recall at that point telling my boss, “I can’t handle that, this is insane.”   That was the moment I said to myself, “This is just gross.” I saw so much of that kind of stuff and you couldn’t say anything.  You just have to do your job thanklessly. The story reminded me of the inevitable glass ceiling in the industry.

Huset was an inspiration born from a combination of experiences in business and life. If I had to give you one seminal moment I suppose it came down to riding my bicycle in Sweden and this overwhelming sense of home and balance came over me.  I remember parking my bicycle and lying in a field hearing the words ‘Huset’ come over me, which literally means ‘the house’ in Swedish.

Wow, that’s incredible, so you found this beauty in a moment of inspiration that really got you into business?

Holly: This is actually my third business.  My first business was back in my surfer girl days.  I had a bikini line, called the ‘Wahini.’   Wahini is surfer-girl in Hawaii.  I was designing the bikinis for local shops on consignment just using my feet and word of mouth.

The second business started in the same way too.  I was actually a manufacturer of kids hats.  One of the hats I made was a Rosie the Riveter hat for a kids.  I really liked that one.  It was a wrap up with elastic in the back and tied in the front, it was so cute and empowering for little girls.  There was a magazine in New York called Earnshaw’s, for the clothing trade.  They put my Rosie hat on the cover with this really cute little girl.  It was great.  We distributed at Nordstrom’s and other stores

4. The coming of age story for female entrepreneurs in America Is one of enduring bitter hailstorms and learning resilience in a heavy male-dominated environment.   You seem to just have always had a knack for it and made it happen. Can you talk a bit about that dichotomy?

Holly: I don’t believe you have to be that.  I think, without scaring men away, there’s always been an alpha-ness about me.  I’ve always been a self-starter and I’ve has always had a good hard work ethic.  I’ve always felt that I can reach for any ring whether it be brass, gold or platinum as long as I was willing to put in the effort and the hours I felt like I could.   I guess that’s why when I had the opportunity to do something else that was my own — I jumped at it.

It’s part of a balance.

5. Sounds like you have a Swedish Lagom philosophy; the concept of listening, humility and balance.  It’s a big philosophical leap between Los Angeles’ constant assertive atmosphere you’ve worked through.  Would it be reasonable to say that for you the quality of time in your experience and perception is based on lagom?

Holly: I love input.  I love anything that’s new and interesting.  Here, I’m going to do my philosophical side now since you’re bringing up time.  You only get old when you stop being interested in learning.  That’s when the tick tock goes backward.

A very important aspect of life is having the ability to shift your perspective from a problem to an opportunity.  An easy way to do that is to just totally be a student of life.  I think a lot of times we’re obsessed with missing out or losing time.  Social media is obviously not helping.  We’re placing blinders on our interest in humanity and life itself because everything becomes two-dimensional, in a way.

I’m a part of it, I use social media for my business, but I think we’re becoming more and more attached to it for other reasons that are leading us to be separate from each other and majorly missing out.

Yes, I’m convinced an entire generation has suffered huge voids in experience that will never be able to be filled, I wonder how this void will be filled and at what cost especially to those of us who are witnessing the transition of this next wave of technological dependence.

Holly: The discussion about artificial intelligence is moving so fast from day to day. The proverbial ‘they’ are describing a world where home will be a place where AI will tell you what to do next, fill you with what you need to hear.

[Holly points to her head.]

It will know you so well it would give you all the things you need up here…

[…she then places her hand on her heart.]

But nothing here.  What’s that?  There’s no human nothing?  Is that what we’re going for?

I think you nailed it right there. We all want a sense of home, a sense of connection with ourselves first and then each other and the world, secondary.  This really connects with my interview with Rachel the photographer following these off-grid families who are redefining what that means. Sounds like we need that Huset vibe now more than ever, don’t you think?

Holly: Ha ha ha, absolutely.  I want people to come on in and get that sense in the store.  Again, ‘Huset’ means ‘the house’ in Swedish and the store is about offering that vision.  I feel that even encouraging inspiration so people can have a vision is important. In that way, your business can inspire change for a better world.

Want More Huset?

Check out the store anytime at :
1316 ½ Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice CA 90291

Website :
IG: @husetshop

The Abbot Skinny is committed to highlighting the contributions made by women in local businesses around Venice. Feel free to share this interview or submit candidates for our next Five Questions series.