© Delia Dettmer
It can be difficult to find your passion in the sea of Real Life. Even harder to think about turning that into a side hustle or full-time business. These challenges can often be compounded when you throw in work, family, and perhaps a foreign land. So how do you find your business crew? Meredith Moss speaks to the ladies of Nordic Flair, an online community supporting artists, creators, makers, and crafters in Luxembourg. Be inspired by this group of women who are developing their skills and working on their passion projects, together.
Ann Kristina Øvreeide
Jewellery designer, BohoBellaMar
What inspired you to take the jewellery path?
“As a home-working mum for many years, I wanted a change as the kids grew older. So, a couple of years ago, I decided to make some gemstone bracelets and other accessories under the name BohoBellaMar (bohobellamar.net).
“I am totally self-taught which has certainly been a tough path to walk, but fortunately my designs and products have been well received. I am constantly finding new inspiration from my travels and each new place I visit leaves its mark on my new collections.
“Before my move to Luxembourg and while living in Norway, I was an interior stylist and photographer, so I have always been creative. It was definitely a driving force for what I do now; it seemed a natural step. I hope one day I will be able to make a living from my jewellery.”
What is Nordic Flair?
“It is an online network made up of Nordic artists, crafters, makers, and creators living in Luxembourg.
It started by coincidence in the summer of 2018 when I met two Danish women, Anne-Grete and Lisbeth: both fellow creatives. We clicked immediately and started to talk about doing things together. That October I decided to develop an online community, gathering kindred people – and Nordic Flair was born.
“As several of our members work alone, I thought it would be a good idea to gather as many of us as possible in a community where we could exchange ideas, organise pop-up events and markets, or simply just meet up for a chat. We have a closed group on Facebook for this, but people can also find us on Instagram and Facebook under the name Nordic Flair where we try to promote and support each other’s work. It is a growing community and I hope more creative individuals will join us on our journey.”
How do the women of Nordic Flair help each other?
“Many of the members are juggling full-time jobs with small kids and families, and I believe it is inspiring for them to have someone like-minded to pair-up with from time-to-time. It’s that sense of community and being in this together. That said, many of the members have never met in person and know each other only through social media.”
What risks have you taken in order to start this new chapter?
“I have taken a limited risk with BohoBellaMar and simply follow my gut feeling when making my jewellery. The best part of what I am doing is receiving the positive feedback from my customers. I also find pleasure in donating part of my profits to charity.”
© Ann Kristina Øvreeide
Anne Grete Hartwell-Krämer
Knitter, nordies handmade
Tell us about nordies handmade.
“My colleague and I come from very different backgrounds, but we’re both Danes and share a passion for crafting including sewing, crocheting, and knitting. Both of us have been crafting from a young age, but decided a couple of years ago, that we wanted to create something new.
“Upon seeing several examples of crocheted handbags – of various (and dubious) quality – we knew we could match or even improve on those products, if we combined our skills and offered a bigger variety of yarn colours and linings. We spent months perfecting the design and look of our hand-crocheted clutch bags, before founding nordies handmade (facebook.com/pg/nordies-handmade) in 2016.
“The first clutches we made, were ordered by friends and colleagues, but with social media and word of mouth, we have reached a wider audience – the latter has turned out to be hugely important to us.
“We didn’t really have a business plan, an ambition, or a wish to drastically change our lives, it really just started by coincidence. However, it has definitely taken us to new places – mentally and physically – as we now participate in crafters’ markets in Luxembourg (when we have time) and have significantly increased our reach with new people.”
Why is Nordic Flair important to you?
“The tradition for crafting is particularly strong in Scandinavian countries, as the long and dark winter months encourage you to have indoor hobbies and activities. Scandinavians also have an innate appreciation of design and unique handmade items, and we would like to support that tradition and appreciation here in Luxembourg too.
“Teaming up with supportive people who have a joint passion is important and fulfilling in so many ways. In Nordic Flair, we share a desire for establishing – or finding – a (modern) crafts and arts market/scene in Luxembourg.
“Nordies homemade is a “hobby-business” in the sense that we both have full-time jobs and children to take care of so it is a creative outlet for us. Besides, living off hand-crocheting clutches is financially unrealistic and physically too hard on your hands – one clutch can take 6-7 hours to produce, and we sell it for just €42! Finding the time between jobs and family is a daily challenge in itself – but we find and take the time. Of course, it, also keeps us sane!”
What’s been the most rewarding part of your new endeavour?
“I have two! Firstly, meeting and being in contact with other women in Luxembourg – other crafters and women who have bought our clutches – has been brilliant and so enriching. Having a full-time job and a family means you rarely take time to meet other people outside of your job, so this has definitely opened the door to meeting with people from all over the world.
“And secondly, it has been surprisingly fulfilling, interesting, and simply fun to create our own product from scratch, to make it fly, and to see people’s reation.”
© Anne Grete Hartwell-Krämer
Let’s talk about your creative journey.
“I have been interested in arts and crafts since I was very young. I attended ceramics courses from the age of 15, and dreamed of becoming a ceramicist. However, although I did a foundation course in order to study at the College of Arts, Crafts and Design, when it came to it, I didn’t feel confident enough to apply.
“To fast-forward a few years, I moved to Luxembourg in 1995, but working full-time and bringing up a family did not leave much time for personal pursuits or creativity.
“However, three years ago I applied for a ceramic course in London. As soon as I entered the studio and smelled the clay, I was hooked. When I returned to Luxembourg, I ordered my throwing wheel and kiln and started setting up my own studio where I now throw, glaze, and fire my pots. As soon as I come home from my day job, and even before I leave for work, I go straight to my studio and start working. It’s physically hard work being a potter, but working with clay is my passion.
“Each piece takes patience, care, and time. As an example, it can take seven to ten days alone to create a mug between drying and firing. Ceramics is an amazing field; the variety is just incredible. “It took 28 years for me to turn the wheel back and reignite my passion for pottery.”
How has the Nordic Flair community helped you?
“During an exhibition at work a few years ago, I met a member of Nordic Flair. Since she was also a maker we stayed in contact, sharing information and supporting each other on social media. I was invited to join the Facebook group Nordic Flair through her. We share information and give feedback regarding markets and pop-up events. It has helped me to find new spaces to showcase my work. When I visit or partipate in events I meet other makers, which is very inspiring.”
What risks have you taken in order to start this new chapter?
“Setting up a ceramic studio requires serious investment in heavy machinery and tools. The learning curve for manipulating them is steep. It can take months of trial and error for a particular glaze or clay to work together and more often than not, it can end in disaster.”
What’s been your favourite part of your new endeavour?
“I feel that I have gained confidence on many levels that I lacked when I was younger. I have met so many interesting people in real life and online. We share information and we are learning from each other. It is fulfilling to be able to create something from beginning to end; to have control and to feel responsible for every step of the process.”
© Delia Dettmer
Written By Charley Larcombe