When did you guys start Bon Echo Collective and how did you get to starting your own company?
I’ll take you back in time for this one. It’s early March 2015 and I’m on the train heading to my hometown Falkenberg which is located on the southern west-coast of Sweden. On my phone I have an Evernote that contains a few names that I’ve been compiling over the course of maybe three years. Names that I told myself that one day I will breathe life into one of these. Bon Echo Collective was the 17th name out of a total 42. The reason for my travel was to meet with my oldest friend and fantastic designer about starting a design house. After leaving Falkenberg for my current city of Gothenburg two days later we had started developing what would become our first product.
Who is in the team and what’s their background?
Bon Echo Collective consists of myself, Carl-Fredrik Olsson, our Creative Director Emil Karlsson, the business mastermind Matthias Eliasius and our Entrepreneurial engine Rikard Jonsson. We have probably the most differentiated backgrounds possible but that’s also what creates the magnetic attraction our products illuminates. It’s like cooking a soup with the main ingredients of curry, lime, cayenne and coffee powder and somehow the end results is incredibly tasty. I have my background in media, worked my way through the dog years and eventually ended up on a top position at THE media company of Sweden. Thought to myself ”Is this when I’m supposed to be happy?” then quit the next day. Emil studied industrial design at the prestigious Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore and have always strived to be able to put his skills to the test. Matthias has a very analytical background as a top executive back at Ford, the motor company. Rikard has a background where he coordinated incredibly huge events for big companies in Sweden such as Volvo.
What’s the story behind the Bon Echo Collective name?
For me the name has a deep philosophical meaning. The quick way to explain the name is pretty straightforward 1. It means ”Good Echo” which demonstrates the way I wish our good actions will echo our legacy long after we’re gone and 2. It’s the name a Canadian national park with incredible nature. I have often said that it is weird how we humans can spend our entire lives wishing for miracles when really the mere presence of our nature and our Earth is by any logical reason an absolutely breathtaking miracle.
How does Bon Echo Collective differentiate from others?
My intuition wants to say that we differentiate ourselves by the way we differentiate ourselves. However reasonable this sounds to me I get that this is quite possibly the worst answer to the question. Starting from the absolute core of our company we’d have to not only go to the roots of it but to the very ground we’re we’ve chosen to plant our seeds. We truly madly and deeply have a strong notion internally that we are one of the absolute first new breeds of company where everything written in business books 10-20 years ago is irrelevant. As we say on our website ”We believe Nobody is the new Somebody” something that really says a lot about our views. We’ve also of course kept ourselves open to create more than watches in the future under the domain of Bon Echo. The main differentiating factor that those who in some way have contact with us must feel is our devotion and presence we bring into everything we do, communicate or write. I despise the theory of ’zero-sum game’ where for one to be the winner one has to be the loser.
How is it to be a newcomer in such an old and traditional industry?
Well, it is tough obviously! Although I somehow really thrive in that environment where everywhere you go the traditions are more or less plastered in the very bricks that creates the foundation. I really like the scenario where you can just tweak what you are doing and see the differentiating contrast almost immediately just because the entire industry operate more or less identical to one another. I also personally have these pretty obsessive thoughts of challenging the status-quo wherever I meet it and the way to do this when it comes to watches is that you challenge what watches really mean for the contemporary culture and the solo individual. No longer do we carry watches simply because we have to know the time but they mean something. It’s not like there isn’t an abundance of accessories available to everyone today so what YOU chose tells me something about you. This is the very fertile ground where we first sowed our seeds of the brand. Who is the individual who wears Bon Echo? What is his or hers standpoint?
I’m really a obsessive person-guy deep down. I have the absolute most genuine interest in other people and their stories, their motives and their desires and I believe myself that companies that have become to big becomes lazy with this. They become ’too corporate’ to care about the single individual and his or hers very individualistic goals. It’s insane probably but I really really REALLY believe that deep down we are extremely unique. A combination of biology and chemistry that together accumulates into thoughts and actions that will never ever be re-produced ever again. It’s in this philosophical seed of an idea we’ve created the breed of company we believe will have its place in the future landscape of business.
Where are the watches made?
We are currently purchasing our materials in many parts of our World. As we will talk about later we purchase the movement from Ronda in Lausen, Switzerland. We collect samples of sapphire from everywhere over the Earth due to the fact that Sapphire can differ pretty much in both hue and quality. A clean and qualitative piece of sapphire will empower and embrace every color it comes in contact with and this is what we aim for. They are after this process sent for assembly in the Chinese mainland. The entire design is made in the small town of Falkenberg, Sweden.
What movements are you using and why?
The Pangea movement is a Swiss-made Quartz named Ronda 762. A movement specialized for watches that does not have chronographs or a hand for seconds. Due to the power-saving mechanism in the Ronda 762 the estimated battery life is a clean 10 years! However no Pangea has existed in 10 years so far so I’ll need to get back to you on that one!
What makes a good watch and what was important for you guys?
We’ve always had the fundamental principle that we should be able to sell our creations solely on great specifications. A product that we wouldn’t need great marketing to be able to sell. Simply put – a watch we and people close to us would wear. Maybe we’ve been influenced by the late and great Steve Jobs who said he created product for himself and his friends. Not only is the product itself important to us but the indirect value of our brand should communicate our philosophy that we imbue in to everything we do. No brand today need to really live by example. From how you communicate with partners and clients and what content you create. What value do we provide that we feel is needed in todays society for generations to come.
What’s the inspiration for your collection?
The first line of watches we created is named after the super continent Pangea, a name coined by that late German geologist Alfred Wegener who pioneered that scientific field and was the first scientist to come up with the theory of constant movement. He was however laughed at and ridiculed for his work and when he perished during an expedition in the freezing winter of Greenland he did so whitout ever knowing that his theory would eventually become the absolute basis of how we look at the Earth. This means a great lot to me because I strongly believe, and I admit it’s sad thought, that one of the richest places of ideas is the graveyard – just imagine how many books, poems and songs that lie buried there. That for whatever the reason someone decided to never share their voice, their talent and ideas with the rest of us and are now forever lost. Imagine the unsung songs, the unwritten masterpieces and the breakthrough ideas who got silenced because that particular individual did not find anyone to resonate with and perhaps couldn’t muster up the confidence needed to share his or hers passion with the world. This is why the design philosophy of the Pangea was never to create a leading star. The leading star should always be the wearer. The Pangea is, as I like to say it, the academy award winning best supporting actor.
Where can I buy your watch and what’s the price?
The Pangea can be bought, of course, at our website. But we also partnered up with companies we know share our contemporary philosophy, www.WatchBandit.com for example. Every Pangea is at 2295SEK (250EUR) and it is the same where ever you may come across one on the planet.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
The grande vision of Bon Echo Collective is to keep being the spearhead for a new character driven culture. I submit to you that this is my main goal. I can think of no other destiniy for myself and Bon Echo to be able to be that resonating factor for people who cherish individuality over similarity, character over conformer and liberation over domination. The stage at which the play ‘Life’ is currently playing is big enough for us all and nobody should have monopoly over the spotlight. I would really like to make limited editions with upcoming artists, painters and creators. Even scientists and authors that share our views. Just that pinnacle of a company where we can with some authority say that every individual is allowed to blossom into their best selves. In short, Bon Echo is a company that empowers and promotes the already existing leading star that is yourself.
Thanks a thousand times for reading and I wish everyone the very best on behalf of the Bon Echo Collective.
Carl, Emil, Matthias and Rikard.