Acoustics is a inspirational magazine from AM Acoustics and Gotessons for people that work with beautiful and functional environments. We put focus on the sound environments and acoustics.
Gym in the warehouse, workout gear as dress code and Pilates balls as office chairs. At Aim'n in Halmstad, the office has been designed to reflect their business model. A meeting at work traditionally means men and women in starched suits, seated around a conference table, with maybe a soporific PowerPoint to suffer through. But it can also mean curling up with a laptop in a beanbag chair under indoor palms, dressed in workout leggings and trainers. This is the model at Aim'n in Halmstad, the athletic apparel company that in just a few years has achieved global success with their workout gear. Founder Tekla Acs and event manager Felicia Lindqvist have just taken their places, each in their own Office Nap beanbag chairs in a corner of the office to brainstorm on Aim's activities for the upcoming Fitness Festival. It looks comfortable.
“It is,” confirms Felicia. “We often sit here, especially in the afternoon when we need a change of scene, or if there is something we need to discuss. I like that it's soft and yet lets you sit correctly.”
“We like to move around, and it's nice to be able to change between the Office Nap, ordinary chairs and Pilates balls.”
The Aim'n office is completely new, and so is the warehouse facility next door. But the brand was born four years ago. Let's start at the beginning: One day in November 2013, Tekla was talking on Skype with her friend Helen Van, who then lived in Hong Kong, and they got onto the subject of how boring the range of workout gear on offer was.
“We didn't think there was anything on the market that encouraged an active lifestyle – just a few boring patterns, and mostly in black. We decided to do something about it,” says Tekla.
They formed a company, that Tekla half-financed with student loan funds, as she was still a student at the time. Helen started looking for manufacturers and Tekla started designing. Armed with her sporting background and with studies in design and product development, she was sure of what she was going for: attractive, comfortable, functional, edgy.
“But the big names in the industry told us it would be just as good for us to close down before we lost all our money. Making and selling workout gear was doomed to fail, they said. As we are competitive people by nature, this steeled our resolve not to give up, but to achieve our dreams and not give a damn what anyone else said. If you want something badly enough you can make it possible,” she says decidedly.
They started an Instagram account almost immediately, where they posted pictures of themselves kite-surfing and windsurfing. The account quickly attracted many followers.
“When we got samples from our collection, we posted pictures and got a very good response. Everyone thought it all looked great and they were annoyed that it wasn't available to buy yet,” she says.
That sped the process up and only six months after the Skype conversation that started it all, the first collection was available for purchase online. It all sold out in 4 and a half hours.
At first the company was run from Tekla's home which she shares with her partner Robin, who is CEO of the company. In the evenings and nights, they would pack the orders and answer emails, while at the same time caring for their baby and opening Aim'n's first physical shop in Halmstad. Today, Aim'n has grown into a company with 17 employees, doing nearly SEK 70 million in business, thanks in no small part to using Instagram as a global marketing channel, their high-quality products, a clear message and an unerring feel for trends and timing. Their apparel is sold worldwide through the Swedish web store and in another eight countries through online stores, and in their own shop in Halmstad. In New Zealand, where Helen lives, there is a subsidiary with a warehouse and distribution, which makes ordering cheaper and easier for customers in the Pacific region. Aim'n was recently named newcomer of the year at Habit, a large-scale fashion fair, and they have also won local prizes for the marketing model and shop.
“It's nice to get prizes, not just for what we do, but for how we do it,” says Tekla. “We pay attention to every detail and want the interaction with the customer and our message to be genuine, and it's cool to have seen this succeed.”
Collaboration with Gotessons and A. M. Acoustics has developed step by step, and in a way that is entirely typical of both companies. Gotessons' creative director Johan Götesson met Tekla when Aim'n temporarily had their warehouse at the restaurant Spis & Deli, owned by one of his friends. Before travelling to Dubai, Johan stopped in to buy some new workout tights for his daughter. And when she uploaded a picture of herself wearing the tights in front of Dubai's Burj Khalifa on Instagram, Aim'n saw it and asked if they could share it.
“We are hugely impressed by how enterprising Tekla and Helen are. And it's cool that they have found things in our range of products that fit into the world of Aim'n,” says Götesson.
When Aim'n outgrew their temporary warehouse, they immediately decided to move and create their own spacious, fit-for-purpose, well-designed facility with space for office, warehouse, personnel, gym and, not least of all, photo shoots. Tekla, with her eye for design and detail, decided on most of the interior decor – a mix between stark materials, stylish furniture and soft textiles.
“The goal was to make a space where we would be happy to come in and feel creative. And we live on Instagram, so we put extra effort into making the office Instagram-friendly, with beautiful floors and clean surfaces. But also playful, kind of the same as with our clothes,” says Tekla.
Some of the walls are OSB panels, and a concrete floor extends out from below dampening, patterned floor tiles in white. The first impression is that the place is not really finished, but it is.
“We thought of only having concrete floors at first, but it was a little too hard and noisy. But I didn't want to cover up the whole thing, so we decided to lay out a cool pattern of tiles over the floor,” says Tekla.
Six people work here. Their office spaces are separated by beige desk dividers, with wires running down through cut-outs in the table and held in place by a cable tray under the table. Instead of office chairs, employees sit on Office Ballz – Pilates balls with zipped fabric covers with contrast stitching – a lot better looking and fresher than a bare rubber ball, but still with the same function: the person sitting on it automatically has to support themselves and balance, developing strong core muscles and better posture at the same time.
“Of course anyone who's into fitness has to have these,” says Tekla.
There are also sound absorbents here in the ceilings and lots of artificial plants. And then the beanbag chairs, aptly named Office Nap. Furniture that in certain ways encourages rest more than exercise. Because this is just as important.
“By bringing these in, an employer is sending the signal that it's OK to take a bit of a break during the workday and recoup a little energy. Research shows that this is a good thing,” says Johan Götesson.
“I haven't tried actually sleeping in one yet, but it's nice just to know the option is there! “We mostly use them for sitting; in any case nobody has fallen asleep in them yet,” says Tekla.
The OSB panel wall bears their logo: large, rounded lowercase letters where one of the legs of the M and one of the legs of the N run down in parallel and continue out onto the floor. This stripe has become Aim'n's most visible trademark and has also been copied by other brands. But none of them have had the idea of putting the logo on sound absorbents, that much is for certain. Except for Aim'n.
“It turned out great, says Tekla, explaining that the logo can be shifted thanks to hook-and-loop fasteners on the back – particularly handy when they need to bring it along to various events or pop-up shops. They can also be hung from the ceiling with fishing line because they are so light.
“It was extra fun to get to work with a creative customer who comes up with their own solutions. The logo in this material has no major impact on the acoustic environment, but it looks really great,” says Götesson.
The market for athletic apparel has exploded over the last few years and it has also become more and more acceptable to wear fitness gear around outside the gym. This has made people care more and more about colours, pattern and design, not just function. Aim'n brings it all together. Their tights come with a high, comfortable waist and their clothes are available in loads of different patterns and colours, even if black is their main seller. Now the Aim'n logo is on everything from athleisure wear and dresses to bikinis. The store in Halmstad has been a huge success from the day it opened, and the queues filled the entire passage outside. It has also become a popular place for many young people to hang out. That's something that makes Tekla extra happy. Because aside from selling clothes, Aim'n wants to encourage more people to lead an active life. And to dare to be themselves.
“People in the industry told us our idea would never stick. This got us to believe in our dreams, and that's what we want to convey to others, in part through social media. We get emails from people who write that we have changed their lives, that they quit their jobs to go live out their dreams,” says Tekla.
She tells us about the young girls who usually hang out in the shop and write down their dreams to add to Aim'n's dream jar, despite being too young to buy or wear their clothes. About the schoolkids she passes in the morning on the way home from pre-school, who happily wave at the striped car and who carry Aim'n's gym bags with pride.
“They get the message we're putting out. It's not just about clothes, but about something more.”
The name, the active verb form, should also reflect exactly that: continual movement forward. 2018 will bring new collections and designs, fitness travel and events, and at the start of the year they will be opening a shop in Gothenburg.
“We are always setting new goals and are always in motion, so the name suits us perfectly. We actually want to change the world, even if it sounds cliché. But because we now have this platform that gives us the strength and ability to reach out to so many, we want to continue inspiring young girls in particular to dare to dream. To make something of their dreams, just as we have done,” says Tekla.
Aim'n is a brand created by girls for girls. Aware of what inspiring and attractive clothing means to boost energy and provide extra motivation, Aim'n designs popular fitness apparel. The company has won several awards, both in fashion and for their business model.