Ever wondered where the “Björn” part of BabyBjörn came from? Allow me to introduce you to Björn Jakobson and his wife Lillemor, whose classic Scandinavian designs are enjoyed around the world and have made a huge and lasting impact on the children’s market.
I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting them a few times, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of those conversations. The best words I could use to describe them are “wise, kind, and genuine.” Read on to learn more about this absolutely amazing couple who have been married for 49 years. (I loved Björn’s answer about Lillemor — surely one of the secrets of their success!)
What is your motto?
Lillemor: Always be curious
Björn: Action! I want to see things happening, all the time.
What inspires you?
Lillemor: Everything can inspire- good films, good books, art and nature in particular. To go sailing can really inspire. Music can inspire me, jazz or Chopin. Björn and I went to a Roxette concert last week and I was so inspired by their lighting system. I would like to try doing something similar for a trade show.
Björn and I both see possibilities in everything but in very different ways. He sees technical and economic potentials where I see design and art projects. He reads financial reports with great interest, I don’t, but I collect everything because I know I can use it for something one day.
Björn: From meeting parents around the world. I am a problem solver and I love being challenged. When I meet mothers, fathers and their babies I often see situations that I think should have a better solution. Unpractical things annoy me so much that it often inspires me to create something functional.
Who are your heroes?
Lillemor: Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Barbro Alving, a Swedish journalist who was incredibly courageous.
Björn: Indira Ghandi, Churchill, Adenauer, Elise Ottesen-Jensen whose personal motto was: “I dream of the day when every newborn child is welcome, when men and women are equal, and when sexuality is an expression of intimacy, joy and tenderness.”
What are you currently reading?
Lillemor: PO Enqvist – Ett annat Liv (Another Life), he is a great Swedish author.
What’s your favorite city/location/destination?
Lillemor: The Stockholm archipelago and New York City. Sailing in the archipelago is wonderful, we sail as far out as possible with no motor, the only sound you hear is the waves. But I also love to be in New York, it is such an open city, the sun between the high buildings and so many art museums. I could spend three days at the MOMA.
Björn: The archipelago, to go sailing or fishing in the summer and ice-skating or skiing in the winter.
What is the favorite baby gift you received?
Lillemor: For obvious reasons we haven’t received a whole lot of baby gifts lately. But I do remember that our oldest daughter received so many wonderful baby dresses that we didn’t have time to wear them all. I also remember when our youngest daughter was born in 1974, Björn bought a brand new bright pink stroller and it was a nice change from the old one, bought in 1963 and that had been used by three siblings.
Björn: My baby carrier! Our fourth child was born in 1974, the same year our first baby carrier was launched. I remember making breakfast for the older children and having her close to me, it was like walking on clouds.
What is the baby product you can’t/couldn’t live without?
Lillemor: The Babysitter – it was the only way I could get anything done with four children.
And please complete the following:
…make me laugh.
Lillemor: Lots of things. The latest Woody Allen movie. Because Björn has a severe hearing disability he sometimes interprets things in the wrong way and we laugh a lot.
Björn: Lillemor. We have been married for 49 years and we have had fun almost every day.
My proudest moment in parenting is…
Lillemor: This is the first time I’ve had this question. I don’t know. Really, it is easier to remember what I have done wrong. Maybe the good thing I did was to be a stay at home mom until they all reached school age so that they could feel that their mom was always there. But still I always felt that I didn’t do enough for them.
Björn: Being a soccer coach for my teenagers’ team. I remember the travels, trying to motivate, keeping everybody happy and also making sure that they had fun. I think that it is the best lesson in the world that a CEO can have.