"The joy of this business is the art that we can share with others."
Lasse Baldauf, Co-Founder and Designer
Our story begins with a fellow from Finland (that’s Lasse!) and a California girl (that’s Lynda!)
Lasse grew up in Helsinki, where nature was a big part of his childhood. Spending Scandinavian summers in the countryside, young Lasse loved to draw beautiful birds that he would spot in the trees. “I’ve always had a passion for drawing,” he says, “and I am fascinated by migrating birds.”
Soon after his studies, Lasse would leave the nest and migrate far across the globe. His engineering work with a construction group would send him to eastern Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and finally to Japan.
Lynda was born in Seattle and grew up on the West coast. She spent her early years in California, where she received her degree in Asian Studies. She has always had a love for creative projects and for developing entrepreneurial skills. After college, she was determined to spread her wings.
A few weeks after graduating, Lynda bought a one-way ticket to Tokyo, Japan. At age 22, she flew off to the unknown, on an adventure that would last a lifetime.
All drawings by Lasse Baldauf, 1987
May, 1986. Lake Yamanakako, Japan.
Lynda and Lasse met one evening under the towering peak of Mt. Fuji, an inspiration for generations of artists, while attending a traditional Japanese ceremony for the opening of a tennis club. Over the course of several months, spending a total of just nine days together, the two fell in love and got engaged. They married in 1988.
Together, Lynda and Lasse decided to build their nest in the USA. Two years later, their twin daughters, Maija and Amy, were born.
Art was always a hobby of Lasse’s, and his whimsical artwork helped build his bond with Lynda from the very beginning. Lasse would send letters to his American sweetheart, including little drawings and cartoons to make Lynda smile.
During their first visit to Lasse’s home in Finland, the couple discovered the shared joy of design within the family. When Lynda met Lasse’s mother, the two women spoke different languages – but they soon found a common language through their shared love of needlework and textiles, crossing borders of culture and communication.
Lasse’s family opened Lynda’s eyes to the beauty, simplicity, and functionality of Scandinavian craft and design, which inspired the creation of Three Bluebirds years later.
Early on, both Lynda and Lasse were in the business of introducing Scandinavian products to American markets. Lynda imported traditional needlework supplies and Lasse worked to promote Finnish international trade. But the Three Bluebirds story is about one Scandinavian invention in particular: the Swedish Dishcloth.
This special dishcloth was created in 1949, and it became popular throughout Scandinavia. In Finland, Lasse grew up using plain, solid-colored Swedish Dishcloths. These absorbent, reusable cloths were an everyday part of the sustainable Finnish lifestyle. “It was a given,” Lasse says, “and we wouldn’t waste anything.”
Lynda has embraced these Scandinavian ideals. When she learned about Swedish Dishcloths, she was eager to share this innovative product to inspire more earth-friendly lifestyles. She remembers thinking, “Oh my gosh, we need this in the States!”
From the very beginning, it was a top priority for Lynda and Lasse to go about building their business the right way. “We had to be as local as possible,” Lynda says.
Being local isn’t easy, though – the patented Swedish Dishcloth fabric (the real deal) is manufactured only in Europe! But they found a way to import the material, while staying local by designing and printing the dishcloths in their home state, Connecticut.
Lynda and Lasse work with a husband-and-wife-led team to print their own Swedish Dishcloths using eco-friendly, safe water-based inks. The two couples have formed a fruitful partnership built on trust and kindness, and have become close, lifelong friends.
With the right team in place, Lynda and Lasse strive to support local craftspeople and family businesses. They have sold Three Bluebirds products in their home state, at artisan fairs, and at farmer’s markets, as well as in shops around the country.
The Swedish Dishcloths that Lasse grew up using were stripped-down and basic, without any patterns. “There was no special emotion about them,” Lasse says, “and they were really simple.”
Three Bluebirds is different, thanks to Lasse’s unique designs.
“His artwork has a childlike sweetness to it,” says Lynda, “It’s such a happy style, and people really connect with the designs. Through events and meeting with our customers, we love hearing people’s enthusiasm for our product.”
Lasse’s artwork is inspired by anything from his travels in Asia, his childhood in Finland, to his daily walks by the water in Connecticut. “I find inspiration everywhere,” says Lasse.
Lasse always loved birds – he even recognizes different bird calls! – and he introduced Lynda to the world of birds when they met. “They are amazing fauna,” Lasse says.
As Lynda searched for the perfect name for their business, she became interested in the symbolism of birds in Native American mythology. When she learned about the meaning of bluebirds – joy, dancing, and love – she knew it was the perfect name for them. She said to Lasse, “That’s our bird. That’s the image.” And so our name was hatched.
Why three? For Lynda, her husband Lasse and their twin daughters Maija and Amy form a joyful trio. “If a bluebird represents joy, then I have three bluebirds in my life,” Lynda says. “I dedicate the name to them.”