I have been intrigued by the Nordic region since arriving here in 2001.
There is something about Scandinavian lifestyle that is magnetic. The extreme contrasts of cold and cosy, white and colour, scale and subtlety, endless night and midnight sun, and a wise priority on the small moments in life.
It's an approach that people outside the region should know about, but more often than not the inhabitants don't recognise the harmony of their region and the potential it has to enrich the rest of the world.
I worked for years in American multinationals trying to convince big Nordic customers to work together. I started blogging about the Nordic region in early 2010 at beingnordic.com - "an outsiders view of a complex and quirky littlebig region" - but ran out of steam after 18 months for lack of readership. I wrote a reality TV show about the Nordics that was put into development by a leading regional broadcaster but rejected at commission stage because it was considered too complicated and not interesting enough. I drafted the outline for a book calling for a Nordic opportunity on the global stage in a similar vein to Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ to be co-authored with a leading local social anthropologist but she quickly lost interest. I tried to get work as a motivational speaker to Nordic organisations sharing my wisdom about the region. Nobody booked me.
That was when I decided to sell candles.
Now our small company has begun to create an international audience. At the last count our collection can be found in over 400 stores in more than 20 countries, and our little stories of Scandinavia have been bought by more than 150.000 people, of which more than half live outside the Nordic region.
Did they buy a Skandinavisk candle or diffuser because they liked the smell? The colour? Because they needed a quick, portable and relatively affordable gift on the go?
Or because they understand what a candle can do? That there is nothing on earth that can create a moment of intimacy, fellowship and cosiness like a flickering candle flame? That candlelight is a catalyst of hygge? That hygge is happiness found in everyday small moments?
I’d like to believe it’s the latter, and we will continue to celebrate the story of Scandinavia – of the balance between landscape and living – even if no one is listening.