Evelina Nordin: Forging her own path
By all accounts, Evelina Nordin is an average 25-year-old. She just completed an MSC in International Marketing and Management in Copenhagen, and loves nature, travel and hanging out with friends. There is, however, one detail that makes her unique: she’s the granddaughter of our founder Åke Nordin. Here, she shares her thoughts on what it’s like to balance walking in her grandfather’s footsteps, while forging her own path.PEOPLE | 8 minutes read
Though her grandfather founded a global outdoor brand and invented Kånken – the iconic square backpack worn around the world – it may be surprising to learn that Fjällräven hasn’t always been a big part of Evelina’s life. Either personally or professionally.
On the other hand, it will always be part of her identity and impacts her daily interactions with people all over the world. As she grows older and becomes more engaged in the company, she’s coming to appreciate the value of the brand more:
I don’t know what my life without Fjällräven would look like. I’m impressed by the hard work and commitment invested in shaping the company into what it is today and how people strive to keep that reputation.
“To be part of it is an honour and something I’m incredibly grateful for. Sometimes, when I think of Fjällräven’s history, I get tears in my eyes and just think, ‘Wow, grandad’.”
Given her developing relationship with the brand, working for Fjällräven has not always been Evelina’s obvious path forward. As a child music was one of the most important things in her life and she learned how to play different instruments at an early age. Every day after school there were lessons in piano, clarinet and guitar. She was also in a choir. In this, she takes after her grandmother, Elisabeth Nordin, who was a pianist herself. Evelina has lovely memories from when she and Elisabeth would sit and sing by the piano. The result? “Today, I’m a classically trained opera singer!”
As such, when Evelina turned 17 and the time came for her to go to university, the assumption that she would follow in her parents’ and study business didn’t feel right. As she says,
“Based on grades, I was not always the smartest student, but I knew I had what it took to get into a good business school. The passion wasn’t there, though. I loved music. To be honest, initially my parents weren’t thrilled about me applying to music school. After some intense discussions however, I remember my father saying, ‘Evelina, do what you love, and the rest will follow’.”
In 2016, Evelina packed her bags and moved from Switzerland to Denver, Colorado, to do a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice at the University of Denver. It wasn’t long until she noticed the incredibly intense rivalry between the students. For Evelina, music is life, not a competition, and her passion suffered. Rather than give up on music, she started taking classes in other subjects to support an additional degree. About six months into her studies, she started taking business classes in marketing.
“I’ll let you guess if my parents were thrilled,” she jokes. “I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Marketing and a Bachelor of Art in Music, with a minor in Business Administration. Even though music didn’t turn out the way I expected, I’m very proud of myself that I didn’t give up on the degree I started. I tried, but I learned a lesson: I’m going to do everything I can to really figure out what I want to do with my life.”
After graduating in 2020, Evelina was accepted to the Graduate Management Program of Fenix Outdoor, which owns Fjällräven and several other brands. During this time, she had the opportunity to try out different areas of the company, including R&D, marketing, CSR and more. It was an eye-opening experience:
“The youngest of all the graduates, I quickly noticed I wasn’t ready to take on the corporate world just yet. This motivated me even more to go back to school and apply for a master’s program. Without telling my parents, I applied to study international marketing and management at Copenhagen Business School.”
She received the acceptance letter from the school on June 10th, 2021, and remembers the date specifically because her parents were so surprised:
“It was a normal morning conversation in the kitchen, and I said, ‘Oh, by the way, I have to start looking for apartments in Copenhagen since I’m moving there in August.’ They looked at me with confusion and finally after 20 seconds the penny dropped, and my mom started tearing up. My dad was just in shock.”
Throughout this dynamic time in her life, Fjãllrãven remained a welcome fixture in Evelina’s life, and she participated in both the 2021 Fjällräven Classic Sweden and 2022 Fjällräven Polar. “It's impressive how these events bring together the community,” she observes. “They were also a good opportunity to try out Fjãllrãven products.”
Having just finished her studies in Copenhagen, today Evelina lives in Switzerland once again and for the next two years she’ll deep dive into Fjällräven product development and production as a Product Coordinator. As she says, “I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the heart and soul of the company.”
On the other hand, sticking around at Fjällräven forever isn’t part of the plan right now. “In the future,” she says, “I think I’ll look outside of Fenix to gain some experience at other workplaces and diversify my knowledge. There are amazing opportunities at Fenix, but I believe I can bring a lot of knowledge from working externally. My aim is to return…if they’ll have me, of course!”
Clearly, following in her grandfather’s footsteps is both an honour and a challenge for Evelina, which is why she is forging her own path:
“Grandad was incredibly innovative and motivated. I can only dream of matching his achievements, so I won’t ever try to imitate – never mind surpass – him. Instead, I’m focusing on forging my own path at Fjällräven, while always considering him to be an inspiration, from whom I can learn. I’m also learning from my father. I will figure out a way to bring in my own interests and ways of working. In the end I see myself as an asset to the brand and Fenix Outdoor and hope I can help shape the future in my own way. Even if my grandfather’s hiking shoes are incredibly big to fill, I look forward to trying. I just need to adjust them to my size.”
Three questions for Evelina
Åke’s life’s work stemmed from wanting to improve and develop his own gear. Is there a product you would like to improve or develop?
I have many ideas for improvement and development, but I keep them private because I believe gear should evolve to meet user needs. My focus is preserving Fjällräven's authenticity and original values, while innovating.
I did however come up with Kånken Me at 14, which was launched in 2021 by many talented individuals. With it, you can make your very own Kånken digitally. You pick your own fabric and zipper colours, press ‘send’, and then receive the backpack in the mail! I have pictures of the first bag I disassembled, which inspired the idea.
Which product must you always have for a multi-day trek?
My essential item is a Fjällräven poncho, because it's versatile and serves multiple purposes. I use it as a seat, a blanket, and to protect my gear from the rain when packing and unpacking. I also always bring a scarf or a hat to cover my eyes when sleeping, and to keep warm at higher altitudes.
Do you have a favourite Fjällräven product?
It's difficult for me to choose a favourite product since Fjällräven offers such a diverse range to suit different activities and moments. If I had to choose, I’d say I always keep my Kånken backpack and Expedition Down Jacket close by, and my daily staple is the Fjällräven 1960 Logo Hat.