Maja-Lisa Furusjö revolutionised Swedish consumer journalism through her work at Icakuriren.
Maja-Lisa Furusjö was born in Västerås in 1919. Her family comprised her mother, who was professionally employed, her maternal grandparents, and an older brother. Her father had already died before she was born. From an early age she dreamt of becoming a fashion designer and admired the models in the Sunday paper, Stockholms-Tidningen.
After completing her schooling in Västerås she moved to Stockholm and undertook a one-year course in fashion-design. This also gave her access to fashion shows which she would report on for Vestmanlands Läns Tidning.
Maja-Lisa Furusjö moved back to Västerås in 1939 once she had finished her course. There, through her mother’s connections with Hakon Swensson, the CEO of Hakonbolag, Maja-Lisa Furusjö became employed as a drawer in the company’s advertising department. In the autumn of 1941 this department began to produce an advertising sheet for shop customers. This included editorial pages containing brief interviews with influential people, amongst other things, in order to attract a readership. This advertising sheet was the precursor to Icakuriren and allowed Maja-Lisa Furusjö to start writing and interviewing people, one of the first of which was the cinema mogul Anders Sandrew.
That same year Maja-Lisa Furusjö met the man she went on to marry, Folke Furusjö. Together they moved to Stockholm, where – with the help of Hakon Swensson, again – she got a job as head of advertising at Essve (Speceristernas Varuinköp). She had her first child in 1944 and at that point she began to freelance for Ica. She would attend press events, write articles and causerie-style columns, and report on events.
Before 1952 Maja-Lisa Furusjö had had another two children and experienced how little help there was for new mothers and consumers in making the right choices in their shopping. She had discovered Statens institute för konsumentfrågor (Konsumentinstitutet) (the consumer institute) and its product tests and information, from which she learned not just how to properly wash children’s clothes but also the value of objectivity, transparency, and trustworthiness. In 1953 she brought these qualities with her to her permanent job as editor at Icakuriren in which the product tests formed a highly-valued cornerstone of the editorials for the readers. It wasn’t long before Ica began to run their own tests using their own test panels. However, Ica’s board and management (largely the CEO Carl Hakon Swensson) were not equally thrilled that the company’s products were also tested and sometimes fared worse than their competitors’ products. Maja-Lisa Furusjö fought long and hard for Icakuriren to become a magazine which provided consumer information and was not simply a marketing organ.
Maja-Lisa Furusjö’s efforts within journalism extended further than just consumer information. By focusing on what was important for the consumer and obtaining research on consumer behaviour she made a great contribution to the health of the wider population. Along with Ica Provkök, led by the domestic science teacher Asta Östenius, weekly recipes in Icakuriren were produced according to nutritional values, talks were held, as well as handicrafts, housework, and cooking demonstrations. From 1974 until she retired in 1984 Maja-Lisa Furusjö was editor-in-chief of Icakuriren.
In 1984 Maja-Lisa Furusjö was awarded the Stora journalist prize because she was: ‘a fearless journalist who never failed to publish the truth about goods and services. Maja-Lisa Furusjö quickly realised the importance of objective testing and research. She has implemented a testing programme without resistance from the Swedish press’.
Maja-Lisa Furusjö died in Stockholm in 2017. She is buried at The Woodland Cemetery.