Jewellery Talk with Men Up North
Men Up North officially launched their brand at The Jewellery Room Event last month. Judged by the attention their Nordic inspired jewellery received at the event the team behind the Nordic men’s brand is off to a great start.
We met with Co-founder, Thor, to hear about his ambitions for the brand and how Men Up North became a reality.
How and why did you start Men Up North?
I had had plans of starting a men’s jewellery brand for a few years, but it wasn’t until I met my girlfriend that things really took off. Marianne has experience with jewellery in retail, and we realised that we complemented each other perfectly and decided to start the brand together. She is incredibly good at financial management, organizing systems and taking care of the administrative part of the business. This is why she runs the daily administration of the company. We also have a team of extremely talented people within photography, web, graphics, visual merchandising and of course our talented and quality oriented people in Denmark and Germany who produce our finished products for us. Obviously, we couldn’t have done this on our own.
We both believe there’s a gap in the jewellery market and plenty of room for us as producers of high-quality men’s jewellery. We’re both obsessed with jewellery and when she tells me she would like a ring with a specific look or style, I make it for her, which is why we also have a small selection of women’s jewellery; simply because we can’t help ourselves.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a large Sailor collection, a line of bolo ties that will fit into the existing collection.
Five quick for Thor:
What do you dream about?
Amongst much else, I dream about Men Up North earning a space in the line of successful Danish jewellery brands. We want to be international, and we’re striving to be the brand others want to copy.
Describe a perfect day for you?
When I manage to balance family, friends, myself and my business. When I’m present with my family, have time to exercise, manage to get a lot done, meet interesting people and come up with new ideas, as well as had a lot of good coffee – that’s a good day!
What is your guilty pleasure?
I don’t have any guilty pleasures, but I love good coffee, quality whiskey, shirts and suits that are made to measure, fast cars, expensive jewellery; especially cufflinks.
Do you have a crazy habit?
Several, but I’m not telling you about those.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
To work with people who like what you do, who have a generally positive outlook on life, who are able to give constructive criticism, and who only wish you and others the best.
Do you have a piece of jewellery that means something special to you?
Our large 18-carat gold facetted Harlequin ring with inlaid wood inside. In many ways, it helped me get to where I am today, and every time I put it on, I’m filled with happiness by the sight and feeling of wearing it.
What is your biggest achievement in your jewellery career?
Definitely launching Men Up North at The Jewellery Room this year. It was also a big deal when my first Trollbeads came out in stores and it’s still great when new beads I’ve designed are launched. And then it was great when my collections for Georg Jensen hit the streets, but it got a little lost in politics and too many cooks working on one broth. So to be able to present Men Up North to the world is a crazy milestone, and we hope men, as well as women, will welcome us with a smile.
Why did you choose to become a jewellery designer?
Mankind has always had the need to adorn. Initially, it can seem pointless, but under the surface lie numerous arguments to decorate and adorn oneself. We communicate wordlessly with our surroundings via our physical exterior.
The absence of any decorative object will become a sign in itself, so we can’t refrain from expressing ourselves in a physical world.
It’s a given that the exterior isn’t everything, but on the other hand, why should the interior be more important? We can’t use our brains unless we have a head, right? So, it must be obvious that there exists a balance between the interior and exterior, both holding an equal importance, and we need to accept that people aren’t given anything other than the exterior as a basis to judge on a first meeting.
Jewellery is a powerful supplier of signals for your surroundings that signals who you might be and what you might value. Imagine a ragged tramp with a large gold ring on his finger. Without the gold ring, you might not even notice him.
Jewellery lasts longer than clothes, and thus it often becomes a container for memories and comes to mean a lot to people, which I like very much, Thor concludes.
What would your occupation be if you weren’t a jewellery designer?
Do you have a motto you live by?
Karma is what you make it.
What do you see as the next hottest jewellery trend?
“Men’s jewellery will, of course, gain new ground on many markets,” Thor says with a smile.
Do you have something you can’t live without?
I really appreciate many things; furniture, music, lamps, clothes and gear, but nothing means anything compared to what my family and friends mean to me.
What moments would you highlight in your entrepreneurial journey so far? And what have been the greatest challenges?
When my collections for Georg Jensen – Smithy, Art Deco, Men’s Classics etc. – were presented in stores a few years ago, I was quite proud. It was the peak of one long journey, and it had been a great challenge, personally as well as professionally. It was great to see how it was styled and elevated after it left my hands. With the launch of our own brand, Men Up North, there are different and even greater challenges, as there are incredibly many things that need to work together and be kept in check.
Do you have a style icon that inspires you in your approach to design?
I don’t really have a specific style icon, but there are several designers and artists who continually inspire me and nudge me to push myself a step further. Dieter Rams, who was the man behind Brown’s minimalistic design. Karim Rashid, who’s a very reckless sort of guy. There’s Charles and Ray Eames, who had a broad outlook on things, as well as Henning Koppel, Sigvard Bernadotte, Georg Jensen and many others.
What would you do if you won 100 million kr.?
I would start a fund for fundamental research in cheap and clean energy. Then I would hire some more talented people to sell our jewellery, and I would make a whole lot of crazy new Haute Couture jewellery as well as a lot of jewellery for my girlfriend.
See more of Thor and his team’s Nordic jewellery creations here.