23 January 2020

Q&A with Kolsvart CEO Jonathan Roos

It's true. We came for the packaging, but stayed for the candy. 
Malmö-based Kolsvart is making a big mark in the licorice world. The product is super-delicious with both classic and unique flavor combinations, a give-back ethos, and enviable packaging design. We stock the brand in our shop. You are devouring it. And, we wanted to learn more. Jonathan Roos, CEO of Kolsvart, provided some details. 
Is your work for the love of licorice or the love of fish?
Tough question! Our foundation is really the love for simple beauty and not making things more complicated than they have to be. Candy is such a fun product to work with, but we try to also mix in some serious elements. Supporting the restoration of water environments is one of those elements. It feels good doing these extra things but it is really our customers who are making it possible so we hope they feel part of this too.
Yes! I noticed that the white-packaged fish (Turbot, Cod, Pike) mentions this. Can you tell us a little more about these?
That's right. We donate part of the proceeds from these products to a local Swedish organization that uses the funds to restore fish habitats, promote healthy fish stocks, and raise awareness about water environments. We've custom-made all of these molds after real Swedish fish—Turbot, Cod, Pike. Surprisingly, often people think that the candy contains real fish, but that is not the case!
Dogs or Cats?
I'm a dog person, but finding new appreciation for cats after seeing all of these funny cat compilations on YouTube and Instagram.
How did you decide to make licorice? What does Kolsvart mean?
It was a coincidence. It all started as a cafe in Malmö that sadly failed. Our licorice was the one product that worked, so the love of pure and real flavors took new shape in the form of Kolsvart. The name itself means pitch black or charred black. We joke that it was also the general outlook after the cafe went belly up :)
We're suckers for great packaging. Can you tell us a little about the design?
I can't take any credit for the packaging but I love it as well! The design is the work of my dad and the thought behind the waxy paper was to choose a material that conveys the same real and genuine feel as what's inside. It's also a nod to how produce used to be packaged in the old days. We used the typeface Arial simply because it was first on the list in Word and it worked.
Favorite flavor or fish shape?
Right now I'm really into sour stuff so the Sour Roding or the Turbot.
When in Malmö, where MUST one eat?
For fine dining, Lyran is a great choice. For everyday eats, Spoonery is one of our favorites. But, Malmö is also great for quick international street food. They say "if you've seen Malmö, you've seen the world." Maybe that's silly, but there's at least some truth to it when it comes to food!