We had the good fortune of connecting with Ulrika Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ulrika, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
Ever since I was old enough to choose my own clothes, I’ve stood out for my bold and colorful choices. Back then, I didn’t exactly follow trends or match tops with bottoms. The only thing that mattered to me was that the clothes I wore were brightly colored and boldly patterned. And the more colors I wore, the happier I was.

However, growing up in Sweden, a country well-known for its minimalistic and neutral-toned designs, I often felt like an outsider in my eye-catching and eclectic choices. A few years ago, I was lucky to come across Ingrid Fetell Leeʼs TED talk “Where joy hides and how to find it”, which led me to her book “Joyful.” After reading this book, I felt as though so many things fell into place in my life. As Fetell Lee described the scientific evidence behind the fact that the majority of people around the world appreciate the same art and architecture – based on nature, round shapes, pops of bright color, symmetrical shapes and repeat patterns – I felt both understood and strengthened in my own style and in my dream to design bright and unique things, including stationery products.

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My company, Belle Belette, was founded on the belief that bright colors make us happier.

I have always been drawn to bold patterns and vivid colors. As a young girl, my one and only passion was painting and drawing. It became a very important way to express myself. I painted and painted and kept on painting although I grew up without any encouragement to do so. Instead I was brought up to think that passions should stay as dreams, and a traditional, steady career was the only correct choice. So I studied law and worked as a lawyer for several years, before I had saved up enough courage to listen to my own voice. In 2016 I enrolled in a 3-month intensive program to become a graphic designer (at Shillington in New York.) Changing careers from law to design and then starting my own company in New York City have required a lot of courage and facing down many fears. I’ve questioned my choices may times, but I’ve have never regretted them. And how could I? By changing careers, I embraced who I truly am — a person obsessed with color, shapes and the way specific combinations can create an explosion of universal joy and well-being. It hasn’t always been an easy transition, but this passion of mine was just too strong to be ignored.

As a designer and illustrator, I use vivid colors and bold shapes as my main ingredient and the actual illustration, or drawing comes second. To me, it is always the colors and the specific color combinations that catches my attention, and creates the actual feeling of joy in my body. So by creating a bright a bold line of stationery products, I wanted to help color-lovers like me express themselves.

My choice of colors together with my illustration style hopefully creates a unique style that appeals to people. Some of the feedback I’ve received so far on my products is that there is something nostalgic but still very modern with my cards. Customers think that my cards really pop, are fun and bright and that the style is so unique and beautiful. In addition, people really like the quality. I use matte and very smooth paper and only print on 100% recycled paper, which is made in the US. I print locally in Queens, NY, only use compostable sleeves and give back by planting trees via One Tree Planted.

Of course, being from Sweden and loving New York, I have a produced both a Swedish-inspired collection and a colorful New York collection, which is dropping on bellebelette.com later this spring!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For New York City, I could come up with an endless list of things. But to create a cohesive itinerary, I would start at the Park Public library by Bryant Park, walk from there to see Grand Central Station (two gorgeous landmarks of NYC), take the 7 train to Long Island City, visit Casa Enrique for the world’s best tacos (and margaritas), walk down to the LIC waterfront for a view of the NYC skyline, take the East River Ferry downtown to get a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge while heading to Dumbo, visit the small shops around Water Street, grab a snack at Time Out Market, have dinner at Cecconi’s and maybe end the evening with drinks on the rooftop bar at the One Hotel.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that deserve a lot of credit in my life. I just mentioned Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book “Joyful.” In addition, there are so many artists and companies that have inspired me to dream big about colors, patterns and a career as an artist: Matisse, Alexander Girard, Josef Frank, Saul Bass, the Memphis Group, Marimekko and so many more. However, more importantly are the people close to me who have supported me through the hard days. Changing careers from law to design hasn’t always been easy, and when you doubt yourself, other people’s trust has kept me going. I am forever thankful to my loving and always optimistic husband, David, my supportive sisters, brother and parents. There are of course so many friends to name too, and not to mention all my customers and followers who like what I do.

Website: https://bellebelette.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bellebelettedesign/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bellebelettedesign

Other: Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BelleBeletteDesign

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.