Lillagunga swings into business globally
The humble swing has been giving children a lift for centuries, yet quality products have been hard to find in recent times. This Finnish company seeks to change all that, by taking their wooden products to the world.
Years ago when he was a young boy, there was nothing that Anton Stenfors liked to do more than use the swing at his parents’ summer cottage. The rush of freedom he felt was exhilarating as his toes reached higher and higher into the air. And so, decades later when he became a parent himself, he was eager to share this experience with his own children.
Setting out in search of a suitable swing, the task proved more difficult than he first thought.
“I wanted something that was good quality and also looked good, but I couldn’t find anything,” he recalls. “I purchased what was available: a cheap, rather lightweight plastic model. It worked for a while before it broke.”
And so, having only just introduced his children to the joys of swinging, there was no way Stenfors could turn around and inform them that it was now destined for the scrap heap. Luckily, the solution lay at the foot of the tree in his garden, in the shape of a stray plank of wood. Swiftly securing his new find to the existing ropes, crisis was averted and soon his children were once again enjoying the wind blow through their hair.
Impressed with the durability of his new design, Stenfors pondered the possibilities: surely there must be other children who would enjoy the same thing at home.
After taking another look at the barren marketplace, he concluded that there was ample potential for a good quality Finnish-made product. Drawing on his background in product and concept development, the business idea took root when he teamed up with a local company that could handle production. Eventually, they decided that customers should be able to choose between different wood types and ropes, in order to construct their custom-made swing.
Taking its name from the Swedish word for ‘small swing’, Lillagunga was airborne in May 2013.
The Lillagunga Classic attracted strong orders and positive feedback from the get-go. Such was the level of response that two further models went into production, one for toddlers and the other, somewhat unsurprisingly, for fully-grown adults.
While focus was initially on the local market, subsequent years have revealed considerable international interest.
“A swing is a universal product; it’s known all over the world,” Stenfors explains. “We have shipped everywhere from Taiwan to Canada, to all around Europe, Australia and the USA. Many have contacted us directly and also through our resellers in France, London and Taiwan.”
With this in mind, the company is now on the cusp of further growth, thanks to a 50 000-euro crowdfunding round. Its portfolio of products is also set to expand. First cab off the rank is a pair of wooden gymnastic rings.
“Basically we could reinvent anything that is a classic product,” Stenfors emphasises. “Next could be a trapeze, or a chair, or maybe wooden cars or small wooden planes. As long as it brings joy and looks good.”
Text: James O’Sullivan