Lotta Jansdotter

Designer Lotta Jansdotter spent the summers of her youth enjoying the freedom and nature of the Scandinavian island Åland. Although she has been living in New York for many years, the outdoor life and fabrics of her childhood continue to inspire her when she designs. In issue 14, Lotta talks about her past, present and future, below you find a preview of this article. Lotta also made the beautiful patterns in our diary of 2017.

I was born in Åland, a self-governing island between Sweden and Finland that has a population of about 28,000 people. Officially, we are Finnish, but we speak Swedish. My whole family, both on my mother’s and father’s sides, has lived there for ages. Like most people who live on an island, I spent a lot of my time in and on the ocean. My father was a fisherman, and I spent a great deal of time on boats—with my father, my uncles and my friends. The ocean means lot to me.

During the day I worked on building my company, in the evening I was waitressing in restaurants, and at night I went dancing. I worked hard and was very serious about my business, but it was such a carefree, positive period. I had a lot of friends and met a lot of creative people. I felt very free and happy. The entrepreneurial spirit is very strong in America, and people are really supportive of your dreams. They’d say, “Oh, you want to start your own company? That’s great! Go for it!”

A year ago, my face started feeling tingly and numb on one side and it wouldn’t go away. It turned out I had a tumor the size of a ping pong ball sitting on my facial nerves. I was so shocked at how big it was; I remember just looking at the scan thinking: Is that thing in my head?
I called my husband and the first thing I said was, “Don’t be upset, but I have a tumor.” He said, “You have a tumor, and the first thing you say is ‘Don’t be upset’!” It is kind of funny when I think about it, but I was so worried about his reaction. He cycled from Manhattan to the hospital in Brooklyn (we cycle a lot) and, together, we biked over to where I had to have another test. It was then that I had time to think. And suddenly, I just started crying. The only thing that went through my head was: I don’t want August to be without a mom. The tumor turned out to benign, but I did need surgery.”

Read more about Lotta Jansdotter in issue 14.

Interview Jocelyn de Kwant Photography Bonnita Postma