Self made and incredibly hard working, there’s nobody Christina Fedders, founder of the Designstuff brand, looks up to more than her far (that’s dad in Danish), Jan. The source of the wisest guiding words, and always the teller of the (sometimes painful but always honest) truth, his mentoring has followed and encouraged Christina from the earliest years. Having helped her build the courage needed to launch Designstuff, and always being there and available as a soundboard, Jan continues to play a guiding role in Christina’s life.
With father’s day not far off on the horizon, Christina took the opportunity to sit down and interview her dad, reminiscing about his years growing up, the impact fatherhood had on him, and unbreakable relationship between father and daughter.
What do you remember about the home you lived in when growing up?
Family was central to my childhood home; a place I fondly remember for its warmth, love, and connection. My mother and father would devote Friday evenings to family, our together-time would include meals, movies, and always that sense of hygge.
Home was always full of life and energy, with friends flitting in and out to say hello, and many weekends dedicated to large dinner parties. To accommodate the vast numbers who’d attend, we’d have to erect tents, marquees, and pavilions throughout the garden!
Mum was an amazing hostess, and enjoyed looking after others. She’d meticulously set the dinner table with sparkling crystal glasses, pick fresh flowers for decoration, and put together the most wonderful home-cooked meals. Dad was known for his outgoing speeches, many involving takes on one (or several) dialects and plenty of humour; it was impossible not to feel welcomed in our home.
What are three words you think I’d use to describe you?
Hard working and organised
A family man
Who in your family has been your greatest role model/has had the greatest influence in your life today?
There were plenty of role models to look up to in my family, but my life would be very different if I didn’t have my grandparents; my mormor and morfar. We were very close, literally, as we lived right next door to each other, as well as my cousins.
And it goes without saying, we were each incredibly spoiled – my grandmother once made each of us grandchildren, all 5 of us, a cubby fitted with all the essentials including a heater/oven! Happiness and positivity flowed freely through my grandparents, which inspired and developed our sense of fun, adventure and uninhibited imagination.
It was in their flower-filled nursery and surrounding fields full of Summer carrots and peas, that we’d grow this further. With our grandparents blessing, the 5 of us grandchildren would bravely venture out into the paddocks, free to roam, explore, and build the odd bonfire. We kept the fact this was all unsupervised to ourselves – I’m sure our parents would have had differing opinions.
What are your favourite family holiday memories?
Our family never passed up the opportunity to visit somewhere we’d never been, so come holiday season we’d pack our luggage and set off to a new and exciting destination; it was the 50’s/60’s, and travel was all the rage.
Driving to the luscious forests of Harz National Park in Germany, and flying to Italy’s picturesque Lake Garda, are both holiday highlights that have stuck with me. But I think it was a family trip with my family to England that I really remember.
It was 1971 and I had just turned 18. We traveled via ferry, and despite only getting my license a mere 4 weeks earlier, I was the designated driver and in charge of chauffer the entire family around England. This worked out to be about 2,000km. Not only was I fresh behind the wheel, the English drove on the opposite side of the road to the Danes… quite the challenge, but one I will never forget.
What trait did you pass on to us (your daughters) that you are most proud of?
I think there’s a few more than one that I’d like to speak of, I hope that’s ok?
Raising you both to be honest and loyal, no matter the situation, is something I’m very proud of. You’ve always been devoted and true to not just your friends and family, but also to yourselves. “Just fitting in” was never in your DNA.
In our family, we’ve always aimed high and dared to follow our ambitions. So seeing you both work hard, not just for the sake of working, but to chase and achieve your dreams, is something that brings me so much joy.
And then finally, the way you interact and treat others has always been very important to your mum and I. Politeness goes a long way, offering kindness will often be replicated, and good manners never fails to impress. We encouraged you and your sister to speak to all kinds of people, which you both took to naturally. You both have a fearless voice, one that advocates your needs, voices your opinions, seeks reason, and always speaks your truth.
What surprised you most about being a dad?
I was not prepared for how fast time would fly. One second you’re celebrating the birth of your first child, the next it’s your second. You blink and all of a sudden your babies are adults, and their having their own children, my grandchildren. Life is very precious.