Our founder Lo Blästa sat down with Glasshouse Journal to discuss linen, wheat packs and growing up in Sweden.
Big thanks to Phoebe Grace Ede for the lovely write-up.
Combining Scandinavian design with natural remedies, Blästa Henriët is our new favourite lifestyle brand on the market. The small business is based in London where they produce traditional ‘wheat packs’ using natural, sustainably sourced and raw materials. Founder Lo Blästa was inspired by her upbringing in Sweden to create the brand, designing and illustrating the bags herself, and so we sat down with her to discuss her love for linen and the inspiration behind this beautiful collection.
It is commonly thought that Sweden and The Netherlands are two of the happiest and healthiest countries in the world. With a dual heritage from both, what motivated you to move to London instead?
That’s true, and it’s almost tangible when you go to either country. There’s an openness and laid-backness which I really like and I feel very lucky to have been brought up there. I have always moved around a lot though, and I was drawn to London because of its rich culture and arts. I have an inquisitive personality and living in London means that there’s always a new experience waiting, I love that. I feel a connection to this city that I haven’t experienced elsewhere, it’s a sense of community on a massive scale.
How did you start your career in textile printing?
My grandfather experimented with printing and made batik clothing in the 60’s and 70’s. He began importing silk from China and started a textile business with my dad in the late 80’s. I was largely brought up around dads cutting table and developed an early fascination for the materials. I went on to study textile design in Uppsala and Malmö, where I discovered screen printing. I fell in love with the craftsmanship, the skill and attention to detail. I then set up my own workshop in my mums barn-turned -studio in the north of Sweden. It was quite basic with old brooder lamps installed in a wardrobe to create a dark room, but I loved the freedom of it. I started printing there every summer when I went home to spend time with family. Back in London I eventually pursued printing professionally and went on to start my own business.
What is a ‘Vetekudde’ and why is this such an important item for you?
‘Vetekudde’ is Swedish for ‘Wheat Pillow’, or ‘Wheat Bag’. It’s a natural hot & cold pack, traditionally made from pure linen with a wheat grain filling. The wheat bag is designed to reach all the way around the neck and other parts of the body to soothe tense muscles or cramping. Along with most Swedes, I prefer a wheat bag over a hot water bottle any day, as it comes with various therapeutic uses and goes beyond just providing comforting warmth. I didn’t expect the wheat bag to become such a big part of my life, but I’m so glad it did. I often get customers who suffer from endometriosis, arthritis or lower back pain. The best part of my job is when they tell me that my product has made their life easier.
How did you turn this small project into a business?
I made my first wheat bag as a DIY project to treat my sore shoulder. With Scandinavian culture having a boom with the art of ‘hygge’ I thought people might like the idea of a Swedish wheat bag; unscented, made from plain linen and pure wheat. I designed a small collection and presented it to a handful of independent stores around London, and we secured our first stockists. Since then we’ve grown little by little whilst maintaining our original approach of Natural, Therapeutic and Made to last.
Do you have any other natural remedies you have taken from your Swedish upbringing?
I was born into a largely self-sufficient household. My parents had a little cottage in the countryside where they baked their own bread, brewed beer and made sauerkraut. I have early memories of oil infused garlic to treat ear infections, St. John’s Wort oil for bruised legs and daily doses of cod liver oil. For me, drinking plenty of water is important. Headaches, fatigue and sudden hunger can be signs of dehydration and I think most people struggle to reach their standard 2 litres a day. Also, to be typically Swedish - a skinny dip in an ice-cold lake followed by a wood fired sauna is a natural remedy I highly recommend!
Alongside functionality, why is aesthetics and design such a core part of Blästa Henriët?
A useful object that is pleasing to look at gets me excited. Durability and quality is extremely important to me, I always do my research and look at the materials before making a purchase. I don’t really buy anything for my own home unless it can withstand the test of time, and it has to look good to catch my eye in the first place! To combine quality materials and craftsmanship with understated design to create something beautiful and timeless almost feels like a Scandinavian cliché, but it’s hard to beat.
How do you ensure your products are made as ethically as possible and why is this important to you?
We manufacture everything in Britain and maintain a short supply chain, this means we can easily oversee production and at the same time minimise our carbon footprint. We are careful of whom we choose to work with and always get to know our suppliers. The materials we use are all raw or natural, and certified free from chemicals and harmful dyes. We work with European linen flax, which requires no irrigation or pesticides and very little water to grow. The process of producing linen fabric is naturally very sustainable. I think it’s important to think about the source of what you choose to buy, find out more about the materials used and how it’s made. I feel a responsibility as a manufacturer to do what I can to ensure fair working conditions and to limit our impact on the environment.
Do you have any other products in the pipeline you can tease us with?
Yes! There will be new additions to our collection soon, with focus on wellness and spa wear - linen will feature heavily of course. Each product has to be developed over time and with care, to ensure we absolutely love it before adding it to our range. I’m very excited about the items we have in store for you!