Get to know the woman behind Helvetia and Sons, along with her inspirations, favourites, and ideas
How did you come up with the idea for Helvetia and Sons?
As a Swiss citizen living abroad, I am constantly confronted by clichés. Let’s say the taxi driver asks where you are from, and, whenever I tell them, the common reaction is, “Ahh: Rolex, chocolate, and Roger Federer.” Sometimes, they’d also say “big mountains.” It’s a pretty one-dimensional view that many people have. However, there is SO MUCH MORE TO SWITZERLAND – and I liked the idea of contributing in my own little way to change that image. The world should know that there is more to Swiss products than the usual items that people expect.
What is your vision for Helvetia and Sons?
Through Helvetia and Sons, I want to introduce a young, modern, and different side to Switzerland – or, as I like to say, a place for everything Swiss, with a twist. I want to show off its thriving design scene. It’s a way of taking a closer look at Swiss culture in the 21st century and helping others understand our way of life along with our longstanding commitment to comfort and quality.
Was it something you always planned to do, or was this a spur of the moment thing brought about by the pandemic?
The idea began to grow when we moved to Singapore back in 2016. I drafted the business case, but that paper disappeared into a drawer for the coming years. I had an exciting job working for a tech company and was very comfortable in the corporate environment. However, after having my second child, the idea popped up again. A couple of months before the pandemic hit, I raised my plan again with friends and family in Switzerland and Singapore and decided that the time is now. It was kind of a “now or never” moment.
When the pandemic started, the project became something of a rollercoaster in light of all the uncertainty that happened. But now, I am starting to see how our platform can bring joy to people during these difficult times. People can’t travel but they can dive into our little world for a virtual trip to Switzerland and beyond! I have even received feedback from customers on how Helvetia and Sons became something like their happy place.
Your online store carries Swiss brands that are mostly unknown outside of Switzerland and much of Western Europe; what prompted you to choose this particular selection?
I do love all of these products and it’s no exaggeration to say that I'm an (unofficial) ambassador for them. I see a great deal of potential for the brands we carry, and it’s an exciting opportunity to help them conquer new markets.
Do you have any favourite products from your current line-up that you want to recommend to customers?
Hand sanitizers became a thing only a year ago and I think everyone has tried a lot of them. For me, though, the natural hand sanitizer from Soeder is absolutely the best! It not only smells heavenly but it also moisturizes your skin and contains zero nasty chemicals. I also use their shampoo and soap every day.
Another product that is close to my heart is the Tiger Swiss line of babies’ and kids’ shoes which we call Tigerlis in Swiss German. Tiger shoes have been around since 1938, and almost every Swiss child has worn a pair or two while getting up to mischief. Today, these beautiful little shoes are still carefully and expertly made by hand. It’s a process involving more than twenty individual stages; I find it amazing and the products are consistently wonderful.
Moving forward, do you have plans to expand your brand or product line within the next year? If so, what can customers look forward to?
We are always on the lookout for new finds, whether it’s an innovative Swiss company or new products from brands we already carry. We will definitely expand our own line of in-house products under the Helvetia and Sons brand which we successfully launched through our scented candles line.
We are also thinking about everyday ceramics and some fun accessories and items sourced from within Asia – selected and curated with Swiss taste, of course.
You are currently presenting Helvetia and Sons not only as an online retailer, but also as a cultural archive for modern Swiss living. Would you say that you are helping to break stereotypes about the Swiss by helping educate your readers about your country and culture?
Let’s keep our feet on the ground: We are not going to change the world’s perceptions about Switzerland. But we are very excited to build a unique online universe or a digital destination for everything Swiss where stories and products from all sectors, including design, art, culture, fashion, food, and travel can be found.