Zilenzio was founded by Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad and Jenny Helldén and quickly made waves in the Swedish furniture industry. How could these two former colleagues, who had never run a company or even designed a piece of furniture, establish a company and achieve such an impact after only six months?
The answer today, more than 16 years later, is just as obvious as it was then. Zilenzio offers a unique functionality – one that they know the customers want. This makes it easy to sell. The two have also stuck to their decision to make this journey in their own particular way.
“Open-plan offices became more popular and many customers came to my previous employer looking for sound-absorbing screens. We started our own company and contacted Pontus Thorsson, who was researching acoustics at Chalmers University of Technology. He helped us with product development. Together with Joakim Frendin, a skilled craftsman at Frendins Snickeri in Fjugesta, we managed to develop a sound-absorbing screen and present it at the Stockholm Furniture Fair just a few months later. It attracted customers immediately, and in the process we learned how to run a company,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad, CEO and co-founder of Zilenzio.
The company started out in a basement in Örebro, a space that they acquired “as-is”. It provided much-needed storage space, an office, and a mailing address. The premises became a temporary base between customer meetings all over Sweden. Here they learned all there was to know about sound, kept the books, placed orders with suppliers, created catalogs, and experimented with the design of sound absorbers. In addition to Pontus and Joakim, customers and technicians also helped in product development. Their input lead to developments such as screens fitted with feet that can be mounted without tools. They strove to achieve professionalism at every level, convinced that this was the right approach to meeting customer needs. During the first year, Marie and Jenny traveled to customer meetings together. The following year, they each bought a car, divided the country between them, and doubled their sales.
“When we started employing people, we agreed that we should create a healthy corporate culture. Everyone at Zilenzio feels good about working here. We look after each other and focus on training, health, and our core activities. Our employees are our ambassadors,” says Jenny Helldén, CFO and co-founder.
The company is still based in Örebro. The basement has been replaced by a house, refurbished to suit the needs of the company and provide an excellent work environment for the employees.
Their relationship with product developer Pontus Thorsson has grown closer through the years. The acclaimed company Note Design Studio helps with design. Their business idea has stood the test of time. Marie and Jenny are now well-established in the industry and are in control of a well-known, popular, professional, and caring organization, with products widely recognized as the best in the industry.
“We sell functionality; we always will. That’s where no-one can beat us. No other approach would be sustainable, honest, or credible,” says Marie Lindqvist-Pahlstad.