Vill du fika?
That’s the question you’ll ask every month when your Fikabröd box arrives at your door. Fikabröd, a curated subscription box of gourmet ingredients & unique goodies for the baking obsessed, launched in 2019 and is the creation of Becky Clutter, an Alumna of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design (BFA ’04).
Fikabröd gets its name from the Swedish word “fika,” which has a rough translation of “a coffee and cake break,” but has come to represent much more in the Swedish culture. It’s a time to pause your day and share a snack with family and friends.
“I love the concept of fika,” said Clutter. “And one thing that I love about baking is you’re sharing it with others. Just pausing and reflecting on life and not just go, go, go, go. I think it’s something good – especially for Americans – that we shouldn’t … just grab a coffee and run out the door.”
Clutter was inspired to start Fikabröd after the passing of her beloved basset hound, Preston. The loss of Preston took a tremendous toll on Clutter’s mental health. She took a sabbatical from her design work, which ranged from identity to web to UI and more, and focused on finding a path from her grief and depression.
“I have always loved baking, but I had sort of lost that part of myself,” said Clutter. “So one of my goals during sabbatical was to bake at least once a week. Then I started baking more and more, binge-watching the Great British Bake Off, reading cookbooks for fun, etc. At the time I was receiving a washi/sticker/notebook subscription box from Simply Gilded, and I thought that it would be really fun to receive a baking-related subscription box each month to help me try out new things. I searched for one, but all of the baking boxes out there are baking kits, but I don't need sugar, flour, etc. in exact measurements and a specific recipe—I have all that at home at all times! And way too many cookbooks!
“I kind of forgot about the sub box, but then after HOW Design Live in May 2019—I'm not sure if it was all the inspiration I soaked up or the love & renewal from being reunited with my beloved HOWie friends—but shortly after I returned to Atlanta, I remembered about the sub box idea and thought, ‘Since I can't find it, why don't I start it?’ Then I dove in head first, doing a ton of research to check the validity of my idea, building relationships with vendors, and all of the other less fun stuff that goes along with starting a new business.
“Even though it's sad and dark, talking about Preston and my struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies are an important part of Fikabröd's story. Without going through everything that I'm going through, I probably wouldn't have gone down this path and launched Fikabröd. Plus, there's such a stigma about mental health issues in this country that I think it's important to talk about.
“If I'm open and a little vulnerable, maybe that will in a small way help chip away at the stigma or help someone else who is also struggling.”
So what can a customer expect after they’ve signed up for Fikabröd?
Subscribers to Fikabröd will receive 5–7 themed items every month to help fuel their creativity in the kitchen. Each box will contain gourmet and international ingredients, such as specialty sugars, handcrafted nut butters, artisan sprinkles, novel flavorings, and more.
“We also include more than just ingredients,” added Clutter. “Fikabröd is truly for the baking obsessed, and these folks [myself included!] geek out over other baking-related items, such as the cupcake socks from our Oct. box. or burn balm in our Dec. box. Each box has a general theme, but I like to keep the theme a little loose. So far we've had 'A Few of Our Favourite Things,' 'The Holidays Approach,' 'Baker Self-Care,' and January's theme was 'Treat Yo' Self.'”
After the boxes are shipped each month, Fikabröd posts recipes on their website for each ingredient.
“This way, our subscribers have some tried and true (and tasty!) ideas on what to do with their new ingredients,” said Clutter.
Clutter goes on to say that a big part of the goal with Fikabröd is to help people experiment in the kitchen, and part of how they do that is by sending them interesting products that they may have never purchased or even heard of.
“It's important to me that most of the items we include are consumable—whether they can be eaten or simply used up, like the cupcake bath bomb from December,” said Clutter. “The reason for this is two-fold: 1) We as Americans already have a lot of things in our homes, and I don't really want to add to someone's stuff. And, on the business side 2) If products from Fikabröd boxes are just piling up in someone's home, they might get overwhelmed by the items and cancel their subscription.
“We are going to keep curating amazing boxes for our subscribers, creating/adapting delicious recipes for them to bake, and hopefully continuing to gain more subscribers. My goal is to become the #1 baking subscription box for moderate to advanced bakers.”
For Clutter, the education she received at the School of Design has helped her manage the numerous tasks and responsibilities that go with running her own business.
“Generally with Fikabröd, my education and experience have helped tremendously,” said Clutter. “I've done all of the design work myself from the branding to the website to the informational postcards included in each box to everything else in between. My background also allows me to include custom items, such as the Swedish folk art-inspired notebook for our October box and similarly inspired packaging tape that we use on all of our boxes. As a start-up, being able to design everything myself to give a professional, cohesive, and IMHO awesome look is huge. Everything looks great, but the only thing I have to spend on all the designed items is my time.”
Clutter also cites the time spent with Karen Moyer, in information design studio with Bob Swinehart and working on her senior user experience project with Stacie Rohrbach as highlights of her education. A personal favorite, however was her time spent learning photography with Charlee Brodsky.
“Photography has always been a huge passion of mine, so every class with Charlee was fantastic,” said Clutter. “I absolutely adored all of my time in the darkroom. I logged probably hundreds of hours in the darkroom, and there was always something so soothing about being the only one in there for hours overnight.
“During the day to day, the biggest part of my education that comes up is my photography experience from the tons of photography classes I took. Social media is an important part of spreading the word and connecting with the baking community at large, and we have to have good photos.
As for Clutter’s overall thoughts about CMU, she said, “During my time at CMU and for several years afterwards, I would carry a small notebook with me to write down quotations of what friends and professors would say—be it funny or insightful. I just had to dig these notebooks out because I knew I had a perfect quote from my friend Nanda Repella (née Chassot, (BA ’03). Here it is:
‘[CMU] is a place for obsessive people with exacting standards.’
“At first glance this may sound negative, but to me this quotation sums up a lot of what I loved about CMU. If you are passionate, detail-oriented, and want to be taught by the best, CMU is the place to go.
“I wanted to study something that combined logic with creativity, and Communication Design at CMU was the perfect fit for me.”