Meet Josefine Ekstrand, her husband and co-Founder of Leo Leo (an utterly gorgeous little label for children and babies), Emil, and their kiddos, Leopold – 4 and Hilma – 2. Hailing from Copenhagen, the family bought a 1960’s bus, renovated it and drove it all the way to the south coast of Portugal where they now call home. It’s hard not to find Josie’s flair for design, her minimalist outlook and ‘YOLO’ take on life contagious… We may just hold her accountable if a similar bus appears in our driveway and you find us packed up and driving off into the sunset!
Keep reading for our full interview with Josie…
FIRST THINGS FIRST, HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
For many years I didn’t really pay much attention to coffee and instead drank a lot of home brewed kombucha. Today I appreciate a cortado, but it’s really difficult to find someone who can make it in Portugal. So for now, I have no opinion other than the coffee comes with cow, almond, rice or goat milk. After two kids and a business I’m just happy if the coffee is strong.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY…
We’re a pretty ordinary family of four. We’re also an entrepreneur family, home full time with both kids and running our small business Leo Leo. Also we sold everything, bought a bus from 1963, built it into our home, drove it from Copenhagen to Portugal and now have our daily routines from our life in the south.
Maybe not so ordinary really, but deeply driven to make something of our dreams in life. “YOLO”, right?!
WHAT ARE THE STORIES BEHIND YOUR LITTLE ONE’S NAMES?
We used to live opposite the cemetery that “houses” great poets, such as Hans Christian Anderson and Kirkegaard. It’s a beautiful place, where many couples have either found love on a first date or baby names on the tombstones. The lion theme has been with us from the beginning and when our son came to this world on a snowy afternoon, he could only be our little Leopold.
I was sure our number two would be a little brother and I had the coolest boy names listed. I was overwhelmed when knowing we were expecting a girl as I had one name I secretly dreamed about, the name Hilma.
Completely in love with each other, Emil and I had visited an art exhibition with the abstract and anthroposophical painter Hilma af Klint. A woman who is known to paint, what can not be seen. I was so fascinated by every single one of her paintings. I remember Emil buying all of her posters for me (remember, he was drunk in love). It was a really special day.
WE’D LOVE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LIFE IN YOUR GORGEOUS HOME ON WHEELS AND NOW NEW HOME IN THE SUNNY ALGARVE…
It all started a couple of years ago where we decided to clean up – and clean out. It’s overwhelming to see how all our stuff tends to slow us down and make it impossible to see a way out of a daily pattern or habits. Releasing us from a lot of insignificant things and clothes gave us freedom of mind and a renewed energy to throw us into dreams and adventures.
It was about finding a way to construct our everyday life with a degree of freedom and ability to own our time each day, not least the time together with our children. It became a question of financial opportunities and daring to look at life with new eyes. Is owning an apartment in the city, working two jobs to pay rent, bills whilst working on the dream of starting our own business, really the best way for us to live? We were looking to find a way of being together as a family with hopes of adventures in sight, seeing the world and give as much knowledge to our kids as possible through traveling. Those were some of the thoughts that ultimately made us walk the line.
After spending 6 month in the bus and on the road, we could feel the need for some rest and structure, that a permanent place can provide. Also the house we found in Algarve had all the qualities, we as people from the north could ever dream of. We have ocean view, outdoor kitchen and shower and beautiful nature all around us. We have wild flamingos walking around next to our house. It’s crazy, coming from a small apartment in Copenhagen city.
FAVOURITE THING ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?
For me it’s really about being a family, a unit! On this journey we’ve already grown so much together and the experiences I get with my children in their early years I hope will become a positive foundation for our future relationship. I love being a mother and I really enjoy life with kids.
…AND HARDEST THING?
Life with kids is sometimes hard. Life, full time, with kids is sometimes twice as hard. To sum things up, full time parenting and entrepreneur life ultimately rests on the ability to compromise. Which sometimes can be hard.
TELL US ABOUT LEO LEO. HOW DID IT ALL COME ABOUT?
I’ve been sewing my own clothes since I was very young and when pregnant with my first child the kids world opened up! Before the name Leo Leo, I was sewing all products myself, but the demand increased and we decided to get it in production.
They lies a really long story behind – and before Leo Leo, but ultimately it’s an inner passion and a giant “yes” to each other and to follow our dreams.
We are a family brand working together as husband and wife makes the choices we take very personal. We work together on every aspect of our business. The personal agenda is of course about being able to create something together and to teach our children how to work together. Giving them the tools to be able to build up, to create and work towards your dreams in life. It’s about building something from the bottom and see where it takes us.
I still create all Leo Leo samples myself and most of my kids clothes are made by me. Let’s see, we might do something about it and introduce a little line of Leo Leo wear.
WHAT IS YOUR MAIN SOURCE OF INSPO WHEN DESIGNING A NEW ITEM?
It changes a lot. Sometimes it’s from instagram, cool mothers and their style. Often it’s in old history books of fashion or retro cookbooks and special vintage finds from local flea markets. I’m seriously good at finding brilliant things in really messy red cross shops and all things vintage makes my heart skip a beat. I’m a nerd.
FAVOURITE LEO LEO PIECE?
It’s impossible to say as every single design comes from the heart and my hands (and my bad ass sewing machine). All designs are brought to live by me and later put in production. Our print are painted by Emil and myself, so lot’s of personality hidden in our designs. Our bedding is definitely one of my favourites, as it’s sewn with French seams and is just as pretty turned on the wrong side. Inspired from the way I feel, when finding a rare old 50’s garment that often is so well produced.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU – BUSINESS OR PERSONAL – FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR?
Personally it’s about balancing our business, life in the south, making new friends and juggling life with our children. We are also very exited to visit some of the kids fairs this winter, introducing new Leo Leo designs.
It ain’t always easy, but it sure is fun, unpredictable and chaotic. Just the way I like it.
GO TO: leoleo.dk
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