Swedish jewelry designer Lotta Djossou.
Can you fall into an artistic profession without any previous experience or interest? Lotta Djossou from Höör in Skåne proves you can. Her handmade jewelry is romantic and exciting with a vintage feel. There’s nothing sleek or modern Scandinavian about it at all.
“Before I started making jewelry I had never bought a piece of jewelry in my life,” Lotta says. “I was never really that interested in jewelry.”
When asked to describe herself in three words, Lotta hesitates―for quite a while.
“I usually spill out over three words,” she finally says. “I’m a person who needs peace and quiet in combination with exciting trips and challenges. The sea and the forest are must-haves in my life. I am creative, self-critical, calm, restless, goal-oriented.…”
In person Lotta Djossou comes across as a low-key young woman with a beautiful smile. She lives with her two sons Malcom and Marlon, 10 and 7 years old, and her partner, Johan Billgren. They live in a house in Höör that has been described as magical with white walls and large antique mirrors and interesting furniture, bought mostly in Paris. This is where Lotta landed four years ago, after having left her home in Paris. But her journey, her real journey, began long before that.
Lotta took off right after school, when she went to Michigan to spend a year as an au-pair. Traveling was her passion even then, so upon her return to Sweden she just spun the globe, closed her eyes, and pointed her finger at … Kuala Lumpur.
“And then I traveled for two years,” she says. “Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan.… In Tokyo, I worked in a bar called ‘Skåne’ where they served Aquavit. I also taught business English.”
And she met Togolese Clement Djossou, a jewelry maker who sold his pieces on the street. Djossou taught her to make jewelry in different materials such as glass and aluminum. The two then founded the company “Lotta Djossou” in 1996.
“A lot has happened since,” Lotta explains. “At first we drove around and sold it directly out of the car. Eventually we started working in silver. But I got restless and we bought a house in Paris and moved there. We also began showing at important fairs like Bijorcha, were I was the first Swede to attend. I filled our display case with moss! People really began to take notice after that fair.”
In Paris they opened a boutique in the Le Marais neighborhood and began making a name for themselves, creating jewelry for French actors. But Lotta began to long for nature, and especially for the sea. So back to Sweden and Höör she went, where she bought that beautiful, magical house with the mirrors. It is near the forest and close to friends and family and soccer practice. She feels Sweden is kind to her children.
“I think Sweden is better for my sons,” she says. “I got tired of the French school system and their emphasis on discipline but lack of love.”
She designs all the jewelry herself and has a Lotta Djossou Boutique in nearby Malmö, where she and Billgren also have an apartment.
“And we still have the boutique in Paris, where I am at least every other month, and there’s a showroom and a workshop in Hong Kong where I have 25 employees. Today we’re doing business in 22 countries around the globe.”
Though all her jewelry is made in Hong Kong, it is Höör and Sweden that provides her with inspiration. Upon closer look at Lotta’s jewelry, one sees acorns and butterflies and dragonflies. Even bats.
“I make representational things,” she says. “I always return to that. I want you to see what it is I’m making. I’m of course also inspired by all journeys that I have made and still make. I look at everything. But a lot of it is inspired from the nature and the sea close to where I live.”
She works in silver and also in brass, something she recently started doing in order to make her jewelry more affordable.
And now she is coming to the U.S.
“Yes, the American market feels very exciting. I was just at the gift fair at the Jakob Javits Center and we were very well received there.”
The business that developed out of a street project still has the same principle:
“What Lotta Djossou means, and always meant, is that I’m trying to create a feeling of something feminine, romantic and beautiful,” she concludes. “It’s important that people recognize our brand as something genuine, natural and strong.”