About Time You Met: Johan Bülow, Founder of LAKRIDS BY BÜLOWBy Angelica Malin
Since Johan Bülow opened his first-ever LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW store in Svaneke, Denmark in 2007, he has changed the way the Danes view liquorice – and now he’s on a mission to change the rest of the world’s too, recently opening his first UK pop-up store in London’s St Pancras Station.
Through terrific flavour combinations and tasteful design, LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW has, in a short time, become one of the Danes’ favourite brands and had expanded across the globe with stores in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Arab Emirates and Germany. We chatted with Johan about the early days of setting up LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW, the brand’s expansion and his dream of reinventing liquorice.
Please explain who you are and about your brand LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW?
My name is Johan Bülow, the Founder and Creative Director of LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW. I was born on a small Danish island called Bornholm and raised by a family of entrepreneurial spirits, and by a mother who always wanted me to do something for which I had a passion! I have always had a love for liquorice, so I threw my attention into making a SLOW CRAFTED version using only high-quality ingredients.
Since 2007, we’ve been on a mission to make the world love liquorice, by turning the unique Nordic food into a premium, gourmet treat! We put a gourmet spin on liquorice, crafting it slowly from high-quality ingredients. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed creating surprising combinations and sensorial taste experiences with liquorice as our core.
What inspired you to set up LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW?
From a young age, my mother always told me: “If it feels like work, you are doing it wrong”. She inspired me to find my passion in life and turn it into a job. One summer in my early 20s, I travelled to Bornholm with my now wife, Sarah, to visit my family and see my uncle’s sweet shop, where he cooked and sold handmade sweets. I noticed how tourists were intrigued by the smell, which made them come into the store to taste the products. It was fascinating; the way the consumers interacted with the product and how the experience affected their curiosity, and this inspired my idea to create LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW.
I always loved liquorice, but felt that there was so much more that could be done with the unique flavour! I love to challenge the status quo, and so I set myself a challenge: to elevate liquorice into a gourmet experience. Each time we make a new flavour, we are continuing to challenge the industry.
How do you see your brand evolving? Tell us about your plans for the future.
We have already changed the way the Danes view liquorice, and now we’re on a mission to make the whole world love liquorice – and the UK is the next stop on our tour. We were thrilled to announce the launch of our new pop-up store which has just landed in St Pancras Station, an important step in our expansion into the UK. The store is offering complimentary tastings for visitors in an attempt to convert any haters into true liquorice lovers. We want to offer Londoners a truly unique taste experience, rooted in Danish craftsmanship, and look forward to what the rest of the year has in store!
What is your most popular flavour?
Our most popular flavour is D – SALT & CARAMEL with the winning combination of salted caramel and sweet liquorice.
What does your day-to-day look like?
My day usually starts around 6am to have time to eat breakfast with my family before going to the liquorice factory. Talking about the day ahead over breakfast with my wife and kids is the most important time for me!
At the factory I often have meetings with the creative team about product development, whether this be to plan a seasonal range with new tastes, or if we want to make tweaks to our existing flavours. We also discuss alternative ways of packaging, constantly testing redesigns that use less packaging and seeking to improve our use of materials by experimenting with new, sustainable materials.
I am also always testing products! Our product developer, Francisca, brings new experiments to my desk every day, and I give my input for small tweaks. I love this. We are experimenting with everything from taste, colours, shades, crunch, texture, bite and so on!
I often leave the factory around 3pm to have time to be with my kids after school and then work again in the evening once they are put to bed.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
On the 7th of July 2007, we opened the first LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW store in Bornholm. We hadn’t done any marketing or told anyone that we would open, but that morning we decided to cook liquorice in the store, open the doors and then just let the smell of fresh liquorice spread among the streets and see what would happen. The smell caught people’s attention, and curiosity led them to the store. After two and a half hours we were completely sold out and had to close again, it was such an incredible feeling.
Another huge achievement for LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW was the SLOW CRAFTED range which we unveiled last year after 15 years of craftsmanship, based on the original recipe that I started working on in Bornholm back in 2007. As a young man, I had a dream of re-inventing liquorice and elevating it to a gourmet experience, so I spent an entire year in my mother’s kitchen trying to perfect the ultimate recipe. I have long dreamed of re-introducing this original recipe and smaller batch cooking method into our permanent offering, and I am proud that we are finally able to offer yet another gourmet liquorice experience to liquorice lovers around the world. The range consists of three flavours; MANGO VANILLA, CARAMEL DATE, and DARK TRUFFLE.
For further information on LAKRIDS BY BÜLOW, see here.