Meet Cam Cam Copenhagen founder: Sara Giese Camre
The Tot talks to architect and Danish homewares designer, Sara Giese Camre, about her design philosophy and overcoming the challenges of running a thriving business while raising three kids
- What was your inspiration behind starting Cam Cam Copenhagen?
I started the company when I was on maternity leave with my eldest daughter, when she was 4.5 months old. I was working as an architect at the time and I couldn’t find anything I liked for her room, so I started making and sewing things myself. Soon my friends began ordering things from me and I thought that maybe there was a gap in the market for children’s interiors. In Denmark people care a lot about interior decorating and design and there’s a very high standard to how people live and decorate their space. But when it came to the kid’s rooms, they didn’t have the same priority as the rest of the house. So that’s a new trend that has started in Denmark, and I have been part of starting it.
- Why do you think interiors are just as important and influential on kids as they are on adults?
Our surroundings influence us greatly. Whether you grow up in a concrete block with hard surfaces that don’t absorb any light or sound or a home with wooden floors, stucco ceilings, beautiful detailing around a window or a door that gives you tactile experiences – whichever the case, adults as well as children will be influenced by what they are exposed to. And children are far more susceptible than adults.
There’s a lot of focus on how to stimulate children with colours, with sounds, with noisy cartoons etc. But these experiences can have lasting effects for years. We have all heard about stressed out children, who are constantly overstimulated by television, noisy toys, iPads and iPhones from a very early age. At Cam Cam Copenhagen, we want to offer a counterpart to all of this stimulation which means that our colors are more muted and calming. We also offer high quality, organic textiles, so they feel soft and offer a tactile experience for children. Sleeping with super soft, organic textiles as opposed to sleeping with artificial textiles will have a positive and calming effect on your body. Our music mobiles play classical lullaby tunes, which also have a very soothing effect. We focus on creating environments that support the calm and contemplative moments for babies and children.
- What’s your favorite kids’ design trend?
Sophisticated design for kids.
- What are your biggest design influences?
The Danish architects Arne Jacobsen and Poul Kjærholm, along with Japanese and French craft tradition.
- What is the story behind the name ‘Cam Cam Copenhagen’?
Cam Cam comes from my lastname, Camre – so it’s sort of a nickname. And it’s a French lastname, so it should be pronounced with a bit of a French touch. And we’re based in Copenhagen, where I’ve lived my whole life, so that’s the Copenhagen part.
- Why are sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical manufacturing practices so important to you personally?
These things are important because I don’t think the world needs more material goods which drive overexploitation on the planet’s people and resources. But if you do decide that you need more things, they ought to be produced in a way which is less exploitative. Products should be created using timeless designs that last, so you don’t contribute to the throw-away culture. And of course we, as the manufacturers, must make sure that the people who produce our goods have better work conditions than what has been the norm in third world countries. It makes total sense – we have such high standards for work conditions in Denmark, so it’s the right thing to do.
- How do you juggle your business with your family commitments?
First of all I own and run the company with my husband, Robert, an American by the way! So this gives us huge flexibility in terms of practicality and taking turns picking up kids or staying at home with sick children. Secondly, we have a housekeeper who comes every day and a very engaged Grandmother, who has a weekly ‘Grandmother-day’, where she picks up our daughter from school and spends some quality time with her. We could not do it without any of them. I also decided a long time ago, that I’d pick up my children at 4pm at the latest and then put them to bed myself every night, and then I can do more work in the evening if needed once they’ve gone to sleep at about 8.30 or 9 pm.
- How to do treat yourself to ‘me time’?
Weekly ‘me time’ consists of long baths and really good chocolate. On rare occasions it would be going out for dinner with my husband, or a weekend to Paris. But that’ s on stand-by for a while after we had another baby.
- What is the best thing about motherhood?
The best thing about motherhood is being more present in the ‘here and now’ and allowing yourself to enjoy life’s little moments. It’s also about rediscovering the world through your children’s eyes – the magic of a beautiful flower in the street or a little bird flying above their heads – all of a sudden you see the magic again, and most importantly, you take the time to stop and watch that little bird.
- What is the most challenging thing about motherhood?
One of the most challenging things would be the thought that something might happen to your children and also feeling guilty about not spending enough time with them. But at the same time, it’s important for me to say that I could not be a stay at home mom. I need to work and create and fill my head with other thoughts, as well as being a mother, but I still feel guilty about having that need!
- What are your coping strategies for difficult days?
I focus on the positive aspects of life, because there’s always more energy in positive thoughts than in negative ones. So I try to leave anger and despair behind quickly and find a positive way forward. And if you’re thinking in practical terms, like days where I’m alone with the kids and my husband is travelling, I plan well ahead, get up extra early, order take-out and put the kids to bed early.
- What do you wish someone had told you about being a parent?
That as wonderful as parenting may be, from the day your children are born, you will forever have a fear of losing them.
- What’s your best piece of advice for other mamas?
Don’t forget about yourself or your relationship – you’re a better Mama if you’re happy. Remember to keep your love alive. So many people forget their love life after they have children because they’re so busy and tired. The love you have for your children is so big, so you think that is all you need. But your children grow up so fast and don’t need you as much after 5-10 years and then hopefully, you still have a happy relationship.
- What are the most important attributes that you want to impart on your kids?
Empathy, self-confidence, independency, good manners and being a good friend.
- Describe your kids in 3 words each.
- Amalie (11 yrs): Outgoing, independent and entertaining
- Olivia (6 yrs): Creative, independent and shy
- Elliot (3 months): Gentle, calm, a good sleeper