Norden is setting the standard for locally-made home goods in San Diego and beyond. Their products are designed and produced with the intention of a long and well-loved life. They strive for each object to be used time and time again, staying around long enough to be treasured by more than just one generation. We asked co-founder Erika Panciera about how her and her husband Pete got started, where they're rooted, and what they see next for Norden...
1. You two are a husband and wife duo; can you tell me a little about how you two met?
We both grew up in New England and had a mutual family friend who introduced us in our early teens. We lost touch and then about 7 years later reconnected while I was in California and Pete was in NYC. We dated long distance for awhile and then Pete made the move to California and we got married!
2. How did Norden come about? What ignited the move to start a business?
Pete and I have always loved home goods, and we sold some vintage furniture online for awhile. Pete has a background in product and graphic design and has worked for many companies designing their products. Then Pete made candles on our stove top at home for an end of the year gift to give to his clients. Then, he made another round of candles for an art show. Next, a barber shop in San Diego wanted a custom candle made and someone put Pete in touch with them and after those came out successfully he wanted to create a candle that smelled great, wasn’t synthetic and had an attractive, reusable container. We launched Norden about 3 months later (right before the Holiday season!) with just 4 candles and it took off locally and then after a trade show we got some bigger accounts and here we are! We didn’t have an idea to start a home goods business necessarily, but after looking back on our path to Norden, it seems inevitable.
3.What is it like working together? Do you share in each responsibility or divvy up different tasks of the business?
We definitely each have different strengths. Since I’m very practical and organized I take care of the accounting and order management. Pete’s background is in design so he handles the creative aspects and maintains relationships with our retailers. That being said we are constantly talking to each other about new ideas and ways to make the business run smoothly. We spend a lot of time together and surprisingly get along really well.
4. Tell us about living in Encinitas. How has that community influenced your work?
I came to California about ten years ago and lived here for a few years. We ended up moving back east after getting married but decided California was our home. When deciding to move back, we knew we would end up in Encinitas. It is a really special place and unless you have lived here, you may pass through and think its just another beach town. Our community is amazing! The support from other small businesses and locals is unlike anywhere I’ve been. Its really hard to go out to lunch and not run into a friend, which I love. Even the ceramic factory we work with is down the street from our house and we see the owner at the grocery store. I just love that Encinitas has such a creative community and we all look out for one another. Not to mention how beautiful our beaches are and we’re getting some really great coffee and food up here, so really there’s no reason to leave!
5. What has changed in the last year? In what ways have you seen growth in Norden?
The last year has been great! We have added some new products to our line (incense, soap and large ceramic planters) and we have some really great stuff in the works. The business is definitely growing and we’re trying to keep up with it! We have hired some really talented people to help us out and we recently moved into a warehouse to keep up with production.
6.Do you have any advice for people attempting to get a small creative business off the ground?
Know that it takes A LOT of hard work. You will be working nights and weekends and spend way more time on it than you can imagine. But you won’t find it "work" if you are connected to what you’re making or selling. We have met so many shop owners that live at their brick and mortars and so many small businesses that have overcome many hurdles. Be prepared to put time and hard work into your business if you want it to succeed.
7. If you can share, what is next for Norden? Do you have any exciting projects in the works?
We are working on linens (dish towels, napkins etc) and dishware. We’re also working on rugs and possibly a blanket. Also some fun new candles that will come out during the holiday season.
1.How do each of you prefer to start your day?
We spend our mornings very differently! I’m up early and I like to sit with a pot of coffee and read or listen to NPR. Pete is usually still in bed and then once he wakes up he’s emailing and working on social media posts etc… Then we have to pull Henry our french bull dog out of bed (he loves to sleep in!).