European Business: I hear that Rapunzel of Sweden and its founder, Ida Backlund, have quite an interesting back story. What was the motivation behind this thriving business concept?
Eva Fraenkel: Yes, it is fascinating to see how one childhood experience can take shape and ultimately become the driving force behind a successful international business. Her story is very relatable. At a young age, Ms. Backlund was already very trendy and interested in the newest fashion developments. One cold day in 1992, she convinced her mother to let her cut her own hair, resulting in an infamous ‘bowl cut’. At that point there was no return, and for years Ida Backlund wished for longer locks. Natural-looking hair extensions were not yet readily available in the small town of Grönåker, so Ms. Backlund became determined to provide people with access to beautiful and natural looking hair. She founded Rapunzel of Sweden in 2007 in Umeå in Northern Sweden with this goal in mind.
European Business: Over the last decade, Rapunzel of Sweden has certainly flourished, especially through the digital marketplace. Have hair extensions and accessories become more mainstream since the early 1990s?
Eva Fraenkel: Definitely! Our customers from all over the world value the flexibility and confidence that premium hair extensions give them. We have all textures and colors that you could dream of, from deep chestnut browns and shimmering natural blondes to bright pastels. For our especially trendy customers, we even offer multi-colored ‘Unicorn’ style extensions – quite the statement piece!
European Business: How would you describe your primary consumer base?
Eva Fraenkel: It’s really mixed. Because of the comprehensive range of Rapunzel of Sweden products, we have very diverse clientele. We are constantly experimenting and adding to our repertoire of colors, textures and styles. Fashion should be adventurous and cutting-edge, which is why our ‘dream team’ always incorporates humor into our work! Especially with our wigs, we strive to give the users a light-hearted feeling. Having the opportunity to switch seamlessly from platinum blonde to jet black within minutes is simply thrilling. Our products are fashionable as well as helpful for those who may have experienced hair loss following medical treatments, like chemo therapy. We believe that everyone should be able to feel beautiful, even in a time of crisis – everybody can have beautiful hair.
European Business: What distinguishes your products from those of your competitors?
Eva Fraenkel: Rapunzel of Sweden has cornered the market in terms of quality, selection, and trendiness. We offer both synthetic and human hair, depending on the specifications of our clients. Our company has also recently expanded into the field of hair care products, releasing a line of paraben-free, vegan shampoos and conditioners, as well as numerous color, shine, and hydration treatments. Customers can access the full selection of hair extensions, wigs and products from the comfort of their own homes through our website, or in-person at one of our concept stores and salons.
European Business: Does Rapunzel of Sweden have plans to expand outside of Scandinavia?
Eva Fraenkel: Of course! Our business has already been developing exponentially over the last ten years, but there is always more room for growth. Outside of our headquarters in Umeå, Rapunzel of Sweden is represented in 70 countries through ten different sites. We currently own six salons, five of which are Sweden while the other is located in Finland. Rapunzel of Sweden’s hair extensions come in a variety of textures and styles The comprehensive line of human hair extensions also includes lace closures The next target will be to further increase sales in Germany and internationally. In 2017 alone, our marketing team managed to achieve 70% growth in the German market. This positive growth rate will likely be sustained through the introduction of our upcoming concept store in Germany.
European Business: How important was it for Rapunzel of Sweden to establish a presence in the digital marketplace?
Eva Fraenkel: Truthfully, only viathe digital market it became possible to have such tremendous success in the German market. The marketing team here in Stockholm is quite small, but we still manage to reach over 200,000 customers worldwide. Just a couple of years after shifting from paper orders to digital tracking systems, Rapunzel of Sweden was awarded the Digital Gasell prize for achieving 366% growth in just three years. Being tech-savvy has also given our business the capacity to open brick-and-mortar stores where customers can try on and really feel the unmatched quality of our extensions, wigs, and hair care products.
European Business: You began working at Rapunzel of Sweden relatively recently. What drew you to this line of work?
Eva Fraenkel: I have always been passionate about the strategy behind marketing and sales, and am addicted to watching sales figures climb after implementing a successful ad campaign. I used to do marketing for larger, more established companies, but there is something truly rewarding about helping to grow a business that offers well-regarded products that have the potential to make a noticeable difference in a person’s life. Fundamentally, it all comes down to the fact that customers appreciate us and they like what we stand for – we’re a company with a Swedish soul.