• Stephanie Drax

FoundHer: Christina Holmgren, JetKids

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

The BedBox from JetKids by Stokke is a super nifty design that will quietly revolutionise your experience of travelling with small children. It’s a ride-on suitcase that glides your child through the airport, a seat extension and mattress for when they want to sleep onboard, and a box that fits all the kiddie clobber to keep them entertained abroad. On our recent family trip to Sri Lanka, our toddlers couldn’t keep their hands off them. JetKids founders Christina Holmgren and her husband Halvor are family travel experts. Christina had a flourishing business in Norway called Babies on Board, renting out essential kit for parents (like bags to protect buggies during the flight) and Halvor is a former airline pilot. He noticed parents on flights building makeshift structures between rows of seats to allow their child to sleep comfortably, so together, the couple worked on filling a BedBox-sized gap in the market. JetKids launched in 2015 to great fanfare and immediately won an innovation award. Within two years Stokke, the Norwegian children’s furniture brand famous for its Tripp Trapp high chair, had approached the company, and now they work in partnership.

Christina and Halvor Holgrem

I always wanted to make something useful. Something that other people might look at and go: “How come I didn’t come up with that idea?!” At the same time, I didn’t want to design a product that covers only one need. My experience after years in the business is that the most popular products are the ones that serve many needs at once – so it’s no coincidence that our BedBox does just that. When I see the BedBox in airports now I pinch myself. Winning the Innovation Award in 2016 gave us huge confidence that we were on to something. The BedBox has now become one of the best selling kids travel products and we are strategising on other products for the range.

If I had just accepted the “no’s” at the beginning, we would never have gotten anywhere. Whether you are an owner or not, you have to speak your mind at work and to whoever you’re doing business with. As a designer you always have your heart in the project or product, and this passion therefore shines through in negotiations as well. There’s no need to choose between being passionate and professional - you can be both. If you’re passionate it’s so important to stand your ground.

It’s not about WHAT you know, but HOW you can learn more and develop. Before we launched the BedBox, I knew no more about the industry then any other person, being a customer of airlines and a parent myself. I believe as long as you are open-minded, and that you know how to learn, anything is possible. I’ve sat on all sides of the table – as founder, designer, retailer and distributor – and I think that’s been a vital way to learn and gain important experience.

You have to really believe in your product and yourself. And make a kick-ass business plan! You don’t have to share it at the beginning, but make a plan and break down numbers and goals for yourself. This will also help you to stay focused on what you really want to do. It’s easy to be inspired and influenced by others in the beginning, so make sure you know where you want to end up, and don’t be distracted on the easy wins if it’s not good for the business in the long run. Be patient and work hard!

There’s no point hiring someone who knows less or the same as you. The reason I invite someone to join my team is because they are better at something than me. I want to be involved in absolutely everything, but I need to remind myself sometimes to let go of the control and only be involved in what matters the most.

You can’t control what work needs to suddenly be done, but you CAN control how you deal with it. I’ve been on several holidays with my family during which both my husband and I have had to work on sudden deadlines. So choose your perspective: the hardship of always having to be available and not being able to be on holiday without checking emails. OR you can think: WOW, I am REALLY lucky being able to have my home-office at a poolside in Portugal!

Christina's sons, Emrik (8) and Isak (3)

I think we, as moms, have way too high expectations of ourselves. I have three kids and its both amazing and exhausting, but I’ve learned how to be the best mom for my kids. It’s so easy as a woman to compare ourselves with one another, through social media or what you think you know about someone else’s family, when all that matters is doing the best you can for your own family. Of course we fail sometimes - we’re only human. And no, the kids don’t remember all the meltdowns you’ve had through the years! You’re not a bad mother - you’re a mother. We need to relax and enjoy the little things more.

The quote I live by…

It's not about winning every time - but what you learn from it when you don’t.