Marie Lindqvist’s and Jenny Helldén’s furniture company Zilenzio quickly became a hot topic in the Swedish furniture industry. How could the two former colleagues who had previously neither managed a company nor indeed designed a piece of furniture, manage, in the space of six months, to establish a company and develop it into such a powerful one?
The answer is as obvious today, more than 13 years later, as it was then. Zilenzio sells a unique feature which they know customers want – and then it is easy to sell. In addition, the two have remained determined to undertake this journey in their own way.
“Open-plan offices became more popular and many of my former employer’s furniture customers were asking for sound screens. We started our own company and contacted Pontus Thorsson who conducts research in acoustics at Chalmers who helped us with the product development. Together with skilled craftsman Joakim Frendin at Frendins Snickeri in Fjugesta, we managed to develop a sound absorbing screen for the Stockholm Furniture Fair only a few months later. It attracted customers straight away and at the same time, we were learning to become entrepreneurs,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad, who is CEO and founder.
The company’s first premises were in a cellar in Örebro, the interior was as it was and there was a much-needed storage area, offices, and a postal address. The premises became a temporary meeting point between client meetings throughout Sweden. This is where they learned all about sound, did their bookkeeping, prepared orders and product catalogues, and experimented with the design of the sound-absorbing materials. Besides Pontus and Joakim they were assisted by both customers and technicians who made themselves available to help them with their product development – in that way the screens acquired feet that you could assemble without tools. A professionalism was created at every level – this is how you meet the customers’ needs. During the first year of the company’s existence Marie and Jenny went to customer meetings together. The following year they bought a car each, divided up the country and doubled their sales.
“When we started hiring staff, we agreed that we had to create a good corporate culture. At Zilenzio everyone feels good about their work. We take care of each other and we focus on training, health, the family and our core business. The employees are our ambassadors,” says Jenny Helldén, who is the CFO and founder.
The company still has its headquarters in Örebro. The basement is now replaced with a house that has been redesigned to adapt to the company’s operations creating a very pleasant working environment for the employees. Their relationship with product developer Thorsson has deepened over the years. The acclaimed Note Design Studio now helps them with their design. And their business concept has stood the test. Marie and Jenny are now established in the industry and are in control of a well-known, well-liked, professional and caring organization with products that everyone knows is the best in its class.
“We sell functionality, we always will. And no one can beat us. Anything else is neither sustainable, honest or trustworthy,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad.