Sophie Matson is the Woman. behind Købn, the Australian textile label bringing Copenhagen-style poolside. We talk to Sophie about making the shift from a full-time career to running your own business, staying true to your brand and most importantly faking it til you make it!
Q1: In your own words, please tell us what you do and how it came to be...
I am the designer and founder of Købn - a range of towels, hand towels and bathmats designed in Australia and made in Turkey.
After working in the homeware design industry for over 20 years ( Country Road, Cotton On - CO:Home, David Jones) it was time for me to shift my focus from designing for other people to doing my own collection.
I saw a huge gap in the market for tastefully designed towels to be used outdoors and hence Købn was born! The range has organically grown to include hand towels and bathmats as the towels started getting used indoors also.
Q2: Was your current business always on the cards or did you have other dreams growing up?
When I was younger I dreamt of being an archaeologist, interior designer or architect! I never really knew textile design was a thing, until one of my ex-bosses ( Tiff Manuell ) told me about a friend of hers. It was the perfect balance of creativity whilst offering career options. I moved to Melbourne from Adelaide and studied Textile Design at RMIT, not really knowing where I was going with it but loved the ride.
Q3: You made the switch from a high-level corporate career to start Købn. What inspired this change?
To be honest I’ve been doing both for the last 3 years but have just made the shift to focussing solely on Købn! I never thought it would take off the way in which it has and thought that it would very much be a seasonal range. However, with the introduction of hand towels and bathmats they are an all year product and not just focussed on Summer.
I launched this brand as an ‘out’ for me with the view that in 5 years I would be able to grow it enough to leave the corporate world - luckily I’ve been able to do this in it’s 3rd season allowing me more time with my kids and allowing me to focus on growing the brand further.
Q4: How did you navigate this process and break into the industry?
This is an industry I’ve been in for a long time and have learnt so much and met so many people along the way. I didn’t think about launching the brand too much, it was a very quick decision I made between jobs. I didn’t anticipate the brand would grow as much or as rapidly as it has.
Q5: Your products are well known for their high quality (our favourite towels EVER!). How did you source the right materials and manufacturers to ensure and maintain this standard?
Thank you!! I was fortunate enough to have met my supplier in a previous role so the step for me was quite simple. Finding the right supplier is the hardest part but I knew they were ethical, consistent, trustworthy, with excellent quality.
Q6: You have quite a distinct and minimalistic style. What inspired (and continues to inspire) this?
The name Købn comes from the Danish word for Copenhagen; København. The original range had colours inspired by the streets of Copenhagen which is such an aesthetically beautiful city.
I’ve never been one to like too much pattern ( rare for a Textile Designer! ) but really enjoy colour play. The towels are the perfect outlet for playing with different colour combinations. I look to art, architecture, photography, interior design, and fashion for inspiration.
Q7: How do you want your customers to feel when they are using Købn products?
I want them to feel proud that they are supporting a small biz with ethically sourced towels! I also want them to feel like the towels make the bathroom or their beach look!
Q8: Stockists! We know from experience that this can be a daunting step in any business. How did you tackle the process of sourcing valuable stockists – finding the right people and then successfully pitching your product?
I was very clear from the start that I did not want Købn to saturate the market and I still keep my stockists very tight. I made a wish list of key stores and had a clear vision of where I wanted my towels to be.
Investing in beautiful photoshoots has been super important for marketing my product as I’m trying to sell towels which sounds very boring in an introductory email!!
I found out the names of key contacts in the stores I wanted to be in and approached them directly by email. I was fortunate that Jardan took the towels immediately ( they were at the top of my wish list ) and from there it rolled on.
Q9: Who, or what are you listening to or reading right now?
Listening to Sarah Mary Chadwick, Moon Duo and the Descendants soundtrack ( hello 8 year old daughter )
I’ve just been to the incredible Basquiat and Keith Haring exhibition at the NGV. Basquiat is my all time favourite artist. I’m working my way through the catalogue and ‘ Widow Basquiat, a memoir ‘ which is a beautiful reflection on his life through the eyes of his muse.
Q10: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
To be clear on what you want to achieve, be clear on your product, be original, be firm in your vision, don’t stock anyone who you get bad vibes off ( there will be someone better around the corner ), and most importantly fake it til you make it!