Caroline is the founder of Cotton Stories, a brand that was created when she was pregnant and had a scan of her belly to see if the little baby was well, which it thankfully was. In all the excitement over the good news, she forgot to ask to get the picture from the scan. Now sitting by the window looking out, the only thing occupying her thoughts was the beautiful silhouette she had seen on the screen. A healthy bouncing little baby with a strong heartbeat. It was an emotional meeting with her, yet unknown, daughter to be. A memory she wanted to last for a lifetime.
It was this special moment that encouraged her to launch Cotton Stories, where she creates unique paintings for unique moments. Each painting is one of a kind and crafted by hand, down to the very last brush stroke. The painting is embossed to guarantee that is a genuine Cotton Stories artwork, and it receives a hand-signed label as a final touch from the artist herself.
We were inspired by her story and went to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Cotton Stories…
After my scan, I grabbed my paintbrush and tore off a piece of paper from the nearest sketch pad, and started to draw a mental picture of the very first meeting with my yet unknown daughter to be. And that’s where it all began, although I didn’t know it then, but when the requests for my sonogram paintings increased I decided to go all in and start my own business. It’s crazy to think that my very first painting, of my own daughter, was the birth of Cotton Stories and I now paint to people from all over the world.
What is an average day in your life like?
I would say that no day is the same. People often ask me how I can find the time to run Cotton Stories and at the same time be a mother of two. I guess the answer is, if you have a passion and want it to work, you make it work. I got pregnant with my second child just by the time Cotton Stories started to expand and bloom, so I had to work extra hard and focused. It was important to construct a solid foundation in order for the company to keep on growing even though I had less time. I’ve gone from working day and night to finding a balance and a daily structure to be a mother and a businesswoman at the same time.
What does self care mean to you?
I love learning new ways to be creative. The main thing that I always come back to is that I love experimenting with watercolors. It can be anything from blending skin tones to creating various landscapes using different techniques. Whenever I get stuck or feel like I am lacking inspiration I close the door behind me, put on my headphones, turn on some music and just start painting. Since I paint the sonograms daily, which are very detailed and tailored to perfection, it’s a great contrast to just do the complete opposite. It works every time! Before I know it, it is all there. The inspiration, the creativity, the ideas, and motivation to do what I am supposed to do. But trust me, it has not been there all along. It’s been years of searching within myself to understand who I am, as an artist, and what I need in my life to be able to stay creative.
Growing up, I was always known as “the girl who could draw” because I spend most of my time drawing on every notebook I got a hold of. As I grew older, I became aware of that producing art is something I could not be without. It was more than just a hobby, it was an essential part of me that grew bigger for each year. Today I know that I am not happy if I’m not creative. I need it to be the best version of myself and that’s probably why I decided to become an artist as a profession.
What reaction do you get from the mums that purchase your work?
This is my favorite part of creating these paintings. The response I get from mothers all over the world is amazing. I am especially humbled to those mothers who reach out to me asking if I can create a portrait of their lost child. It can be from early miscarriage or as late as stillborn at 39 weeks. I especially remember this one story where a woman lost her baby at 29 weeks. She wanted me to create a painting in memory of her child. She later got back to me to let me know that she was glad she turned her sonogram image into a painting. It helped her in the grieving process and now she looks at the sonogram painting differently. She had turned it into something beautiful, just as her baby. She wanted me to discreetly add angel wings to her image to remind her that she didn’t lose her child, it just turned into an angel that she now carried in her heart forever. Reading stories like this and to be able to be part of something that big and emotional is something I am very humbled and proud over. Since I create each painting by hand I am able to tailor each painting after the customers wishes. It is through stories like this they all become an important and natural part of our product development.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years time?
The company, Cotton Stories, is at a very exciting stage now and we’re extremely thrilled for the next few years. Already this fall or early next spring we will introduce new products, which I unfortunately can’t tell you about right now. All the products will, of course, have the obvious Cotton Stories touch of high quality and design. We are eager to take our brand to the next level and our new products will become a must have element in every nursery.
During Covid19, what changes did you have to make to your business?
All businesses around the world have been affected by this pandemic in various ways and so even we. We, at Cotton Stories, learned that in order to survive, we need to work harder and work collaboratively. I think that has a deeper meaning, not just for businesses, but for society as a whole. We only survive if we work together and support each other during tough times.
We were forced to see things from another perspective, shift focus a little bit, and cherish every small step of success. The biggest challenge we have had during this period is shipping. All the materials we use in our products are made locally in Sweden, but our customers are worldwide, so we’ve worked hard to make sure that all paintings arrive safely to the customers. During a global lockdown, there have been some huge delays, but we decided to put extra money in to ensure the customer a safe delivery, they all arrived.
How much does social media play a role in your business?
Social media is what has gotten us this far. It is a platform that allows us to communicate our brand and our products in a way which was impossible only a few years ago.
We have built Cotton Stories through instagram and close collaboration with influencers to reach people all over the world. Since every painting is unique there are so many beautiful and inspiring stories behind them. We’ve become like a community for mothers and mothers to be. We want to cheer them on and tell them how incredibly strong they are but also share the moments that aren’t picture perfect.
We believe that the love you get, is equal to the love you give. Therefore we do not pay people to collaborate with us. We work with influencers who truly love our product and cherish it as much as we do and want to share us with their audience. Sure we could climb faster if we paid people to like us. But that is not what we believe in. Our products are genuine and unique. We put down a lot of heart and soul in this company so we want the people who collaborate with us to feel the same way.