An Unexpected and Empowering äventyr
I will start this post off by saying...
Kurt and I are equal partners in life, and in äventyr.
Without Kurt there is absolutely no way äventyr would be where it is today, I do not ever want that to be diminished.
However, by default äventyr has become a women-led, women-run business; Kurt has to earn the money to keep äventyr going and I have to run the show to keep it rolling .
But we are only two people in what has become an amazing community for me,
specifically a community of women.
Building this community has been a completely unexpected bonus of starting äventyr, for which I will always be thankful.
For months I have wanted to talk about this unexpected and empowering äventyr journey because it has come to mean so much to not only me, but also to Kurt.
And so, International Women's Day seemed like the perfect time.
I have been fortunate over the last two years to build an amazing community of women that have encouraged me, understood me, said yes to me when I thought for sure they would say no, opened up to me, advised me freely, treated me with respect, and never ever ever said I should quit ~ even when I wanted to.
Thank you to all of you women.
Tracy and I got to know each other in my last job and quickly became friends.
We have spent so many hours on Facetime talking about not just äventyr, but life.
So. Many. Hours.
Tracy previously was a Sourcing Manager in Textiles at a major retailer, she is an amazing seamstress, and she has been a cheerleader at my side for so many years when I most need it.
I am so thankful for Tracy.
I reached out to Kathryn to do a 'life interview' when Kurt and I were just starting to take the idea of äventyr seriously. When I got stuck later making prototypes on my home sewing machine (shown above), Kathryn said 'yes' to helping me out ~ much to my disbelief.
Kathryn is an incredibly smart and savvy business woman, a talented designer and seamstress, and now I am happy to say ~ a friend.
Without Kathryn äventyr would not be where it is today.
We worked with Kathryn on the final product development and first micro batches of The Social and The Side Hustle.
Holly & Alix
Kurt used to race on the same bike team as Alix when we moved here from California. When I left my job in 2017 I coincidentally connected with Alix.
Alix formerly worked in the cycling industry and has been an invaluable resource for feedback and support. (Alix now manages our money by the way if you are looking for someone to smartly and thoughtfully manage yours. Plus, she's a great person to hang out with!).
Through Alix we have had the pleasure of getting to know West Coast transplant Holly who tells it like it is, we appreciate her for that!
Both Alix and Holly are cyclists like us (Alix loves to race like Kurt, Holly and I are less intense riders who show up to support our racers).
Somehow us West Coast Expats tend to find each other here in Minnesota, and these are two of the best we are lucky to have connected with.
Holly and Alix were generous of their time at Christmas last year giving me feedback here in their home on our The Social 2nd Prototype.
Karen, John*, Ingrid, Rachel
I began volunteering at the American Swedish Institute in 2017 and spent a productive part of every week there for over a year getting to know myself again, and working on äventyr as it bloomed from concept to business.
This team, and so many others not shown here, have been so kind and supportive to me, and to äventyr. I could never say thank you enough.
This picture was shot in late 2017 after our first The Social prototype was completed by Kathryn and I started taking it to feedback groups.
Kurt and I dearly appreciate their time,
And we appreciate that Ingrid became our first customer!
* (yes there are some men we know too!)
Pam and I worked together at my last job where she was in charge of operations for the manufacturing facility. Pam knows a lot about making bags, she is also an incredibly kind person who gave her time to me freely to give feedback on our 2nd and 3rd The Social prototypes.
Pam likes wine and I always laugh remembering our second feedback session, we met in a wine bar that was dark as midnight and had to do our review with our phone flashlights, laughing together all the while.
Pam is a traveler and I love that about her, she has a good focus and perspective of what is important in life, and what not to take too seriously.
Susie and Christina
Without my beauty dream team of Susie and Christina, not only would I not look my best self, but I would not be my best self.
Not only my hairstylist and esthetician, respectively, they have been a key support team, sounding board, and friends.
Both Susie and Christina have their own businesses.
Susie and I corroborated during many a haircut session on how we would be leaving our jobs and starting our own businesses, and we also happen to have lived in San Francisco at the same time (too bad I did not know her then!).
Christina is a friend of Susie's who I am SO thankful to have the pleasure of knowing, I have started calling her my 'brow shaman' to my friends (which I know she gets it).
Susie and Christina have been along on the äventyr journey every step of the way, cheering me on and holding me up, and enthusiastically looking at every development sample and final product bag I have carried with me to see them.
In February of 2018 Minnesota was not the best testing grounds for our 2nd The Social Prototype, but Portland, OR was...
So we sent my friend JJ our 2nd prototype to ride around Portland for us (pictured below on her Sweatpea Bicycle. JJ is also a part of the Ladies Auxiliary, so awesome!).
JJ and I met working together at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (we are pictured here at the door to the loading dock - where we spent a lot of our time at SFMOMA).
JJ is a multi-faceted cyclist who loves the outdoors and art, like me.
I love following along on all her adventures on and off the bike, and am very happy to have her in my life.
äventyr was fortunate to have the support of Seven Spokes Bike Shop in our first year, thanks to Alicia. My trips to Seven Spokes have allowed me to get to know Alicia and understand how much we have in common when it comes to our thoughts about women in business, women and cycling, and keeping our heads on straight on the days we want to quit because it seems like such an uphill battle.
We are excited to start working with Alicia again this year when she reopens her shop for the season. Her kindness, enthusiasm, and support as someone sharing different ground with us in the 'cycling industry' means a lot to both Kurt and I.
We knew about rock star athlete Megan from seeing her up on the podium at many of the cyclocross races Kurt has done over the years. Her talents on the bike (all the bikes, all the time) blow us away.
Megan was kind enough to listen to my äventyr sales pitch and offer feedback on our 3rd and final prototype, and to take on The Social when we launched last May.
We are so thankful to Megan, and Angry Catfish, for supporting us at this critical moment when a show of support was so important (and still is).
Megan now works for a well known cycling company in town and continues to rock the podium at every event she enters.
Megan is inspiring and definitely a leader in areas it is needed most in cycling.
As a small business owner, it can be surprisingly difficult to find an affordable mailing address. Just when I needed it, Anne was there.
I would have never guessed that by having something as simple as a mailbox, I would find someone like Anne!
Anne owns Work it Coworking and everytime I stop by to pick up a package she is like my personal cheerleader! Anne has blown me away by all the support and enthusiam she has shown for äventyr, and all the encouragement and inspiration she has given me has been invaluable.
Just because of a mailbox.
I do not take pictures of every studio visit, or fika I have with all the incredible local business woman I meet with, so I am going to use this picture of Manola and I to represent all of them.
I have reached out to women I have met through social media, direct emails or other women have made referrals. This has been an amazing journey.
The kindness of these women has been completely unexpected, and absolutely amazing.
I love to hear people's stories, understand their journey, hear about their experiences, and genuinely get to know them. Through that desire, I have begun to develop an amazing community of women around me for which I will always be thankful. These women in addition to all of the women above are what keep me grounded, what keep me going, and endlessly inspire me:
Maggie from Ethel Studio
Kelly from Anywhere Apparel
Thank you Women for being part of the äventyr!
Last, but definitely not least, Inge.
Inge worked her way into my heart when I did not think she could.
She has been loyally at my side, gives me a reason to step away from the computer, social media, and sewing machine and get outside to pause and clear my head and focus on what is important.
Inge was there in the darkest of times after we said goodbye to her best friend Loki, and we are glad she has a new friend in Solrig.
We adopted Inge and know that she deserves the world, we could never give her back all that she has given us.
Never underestimate the powerful influence and support of a furry coworker!
On our instagram post for today I talked about how I spent the last 5 weeks at a class called " Exploring Swedish Women Writers: Writing as a Vehicle for Change".
I added this excerpt:
“Now, really the pretension of young women is going too far. One thing, however, I will advise you, and that is, to keep to your spinning-wheel and your housekeeping affairs; for more than that neither you nor any other woman in the universe understands... I will not tolerate any modern notions about freedom and emancipation in my house.” ~ excerpt from ‘Hertha’ written by Swedish writer Fredricka Bremer in 1856.
We were all women in this class, and we frequently discussed during readings like this together, how little sometimes it seems things have changed.
And when we took this picture above the intent was to showcase the bag, but when I got home and edited the shoot all I could think was ‘Sometimes you have to walk through glass doors to get to the glass ceiling’.
Reflecting on the class, this picture, International Women's Day, it would be easy to think about how little things have changed,
but I prefer to think about what we all are doing to change them.
äventyr may be a little bag company trying to get off the ground in this world, but we are doing it on our terms - and really on my terms.
When I was in college all my friends were guys, I really had no female friends.
I found the men in my life to be much more supportive than any women I encountered; in retrospect I was lucky for that. I thought it would always be that way, but I am happy to say as I have aged I have been lucky to gather an incredible group of women around me, and I am so glad things changed.
My hope is that by sharing this story, and introducing you to all the strong and amazing women who have been part of the äventyr journey, you will feel empowered and energized to follow your heart, never be afraid to reach out, and know that we are stronger together.