This Life: Anna McManus

The Scandinavian heritage of the woman behind the Tiny Vikings brand shines through in both her home and her work

Anna McManus is laughing as she describes how she knocked up the homemade leek, potato and goat’s cheese quiche that has been devoured for lunch. “It’s really easy! It’s just butter, eggs, flour…” She talks about the shortcuts she took to make the task easier (“I cheated and used new potatoes that I could cook in the microwave”) but anyone who makes their own pastry base, however basic, is a bit of a kitchen hero. But, then, she makes it all look pretty easy – having three young children, running her own successful business, keeping a large family home running smoothly. The same gusto with which she approaches quiche-making, it seems, is applied to every part of her life.
Anna, who was born in Sweden, shares her home on one of the west end of Glasgow’s most desirable streets with her husband Craig and their three children, seven-year-old Maggie, five-year-old Max, and Viggo, who’s 20 months. They are relative newcomers to the area, having moved in little more than a year ago. It was an easy decision. Both had always loved this part of town, and when they realised they were outgrowing their old home in the southside of the city, they seized the opportunity to buy a substantial townhouse, complete with communal garden to the front and a private green to the rear.
“It had gotten to the point where I could no longer run the business from my kitchen table,” explains Anna. The move was quick: they sold their old place to their neighbours across the street, and within a week had bought this house in the west end. What convinced them so quickly? “It was the light,” Anna sighs. “It was so appealing.”
Another reason for choosing this particular property was that it had space on the first floor for Anna to set up a workshop for her clothing and fabric company, Tiny Vikings. She makes clothing for babies, children and adults, as well as selling classic fabrics imported from Scandinavia. She started coming up with her own designs not long after Max was born. The impetus arrived when, having trawled the high street for kids’ clothes but found nothing but the predictable gender-based colour options, she decided she’d rather dress her children in her own homemade creations. These she fashioned from bright, retro prints. Within a year, she was working full-time from home, selling her clothes online.
“I have always sewn a lot,” she explains. “At school in Sweden I sewed every day for nine years. It really is a part of the culture I grew up in.”
Home was the university town of Lund, where her father is a law professor. She, too, studied law but never practised – becoming a lawyer felt at odds with her creative tendencies. Tiny Vikings blossomed quickly: “I began by making clothes for my own kids, then I started selling to friends, and then I set up a page on Facebook and began selling from there.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 20-32, issue 107.

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Photography Neale Smith
Words Catherine Coyle
Art Direction Gillian Welsh