I am not an influencer

I’m pretty sure most of you have noticed I’m not posting as frequently on my personal Instagram account @olle_e anymore. For the past two years, I’ve become a so called “micro influencer” and all of what that entails. Feed curation. Fresh fashion. Free products. Holiday pictures forever. Perfect meals and flatlays. Legs for days. But it’s definitely not as glamorous and luxurious as many seem to think. And most important of all, it doesn’t feel like me.

It all started when I moved to Brazil. There, Instagram was a place for me to find friends that shared my interest in photography. I met so many people who shot interesting and creative stuff for their accounts. I was mesmerized and I felt like I had found my place. Many of my new friends had only a couple of hundred followers, and I think I had around 1k back then. As we hung out, created hashtags and photo projects, and shot new fun photos every week, those numbers quickly began to rise for all of us. By the end of my year in São Paulo, I reached 10k. 

Companies started getting in touch, wanting me to shoot and post photos of their products. Obviously, I was quite happy getting that attention, and getting products for posts. Many of the products were things I wanted or needed anyway. But soon, making my feed attractive for companies and followers became a full time job. I worried about things such as:

  • If my next post can get more likes than the last one
  • If the company will approve of my aesthetic vision of their product
  • If I could post a picture with the same t-shirt for a second or third time, or if that would be too basic...

I had a lot of products and companies wanting my attention. My worries and the creative stress of having to constantly come up with new ideas for companies could quickly be seen in my feed. The quality of my content decreased and, as a result, the engagement and likes also dropped at a pretty fast pace. My inbox was full of emails from upset ‘Social Media Coordinators,’ asking when I’d post a picture with their watch, or if I’d received that perfume they’d sent me 6 weeks earlier.

Who was I doing all of this for? Sure, about 1 out of 5 companies paid a small amount to hire me, and that’s part of what I lived off for a while. But I also paid a high price. I compromised my integrity, my creativity, my time and the interest my followers had in me. 

Nothing on my account was giving me inspiration, joy or fulfilment. And although I was still using Instagram a lot, I simply stopped posting for weeks at a time. And this went on for months, until I realized I have to stop working with products that sell an idea of an unobtainable and unrealistic lifestyle.

I am not writing this to challenge people who are influencers or who aspire to be. I’m sharing a personal crisis that has led me to question myself and the use of my voice on the platform. All of these thoughts have been going around and around in my head for months. I haven’t been able to put anything into words until now.  

So I’ll try to revamp my Instagram account. My goal is to get back to basics and reconnect with what’s important to me. Apart from sharing photos of things I truly enjoy, I would also like to post about subjects that I’ve become more interested in for the past year or two, like the LGBTQ+ community and body ideals. I’m hoping I can post more life and truth, and if any brands appear, they’ll be brands with values that I identify myself with. I need to embark on this journey of self therapy or whatever you want to call it, and hopefully people will be able to relate.

It’s time to get real. 

Remembering São Paulo

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I've put up a map of central São Paulo in our living room. I wanted it there as a reminder, of how far I've come, and how much I've changed. I lived in Brazil all of 2015 and a couple of months in 2016. In that time I made friends for life, got to know my partner's family, learned a completely new language and developed so much of my photography that it almost changed my visual identity entirely. And it's where I started loving tropical plants and foliage. But Brazil was also difficult for me. I couldn't find work outside of my online freelance bubble and I had a hard time integrating. I didn't feel like a part of Brazilian society, I was called a gringo everywhere I went and I couldn't tell the million pop culture references apart. This is probably not very different from what most people who move to the other side of the world experience and feel like, but nonetheless it was a special time in my life, good times and bad, and I wanted to remind myself of that. Seeing that piece of land on the wall feels really good, and I think of the people I know who are still there. I can almost see their houses on that map! 

If you're also looking to decorate your home with a customisable map from Mapiful, use my discount code "upleafting" to get 10% off. Valid until 31st of July. 

Are you pregnant?

Because everyone seems to be having kids these days. Most of my friends either already have one or two kids, or they're expecting. Many have been asking me to do pregnancy photo shoots, and I often brushed it off as something that I don't really want to do, that it's not my style. But recently I realised that I could just make it be my style. So from now on, I'm offering pregnancy photo shoots as a service here on my website. I'm based in Malmö, but can travel to near towns and cities, such as Copenhagen, Lund, and more. If you're pregnant and want some beautiful photos to remember that huge tummy, let me know! Or perhaps if you know someone who might want a photo shoot, you can give it to them as a gift.

Here are a couple of pics I've shot of my pregnant friends (click to see large versions): 

Older, but none the wiser

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Today is my 30th birthday. I thought my life would be different somehow. That old cliché of having it all. That old story of figuring things out. Having a steady income. Owning your own apartment/house. Kids. A dog. You name it, I thought I’d have it. 

Yes, I’m happily married and I couldn’t live without my amazing husband by my side. But do I have any of those other things? Not really. I don’t want to complain, I’m quite happy where I am at the moment. I just expected to have more, to be more and to feel more. 

And one thing I really thought I would be able to do when I turn 30 is have a big party. Maybe I never really dreamed of doing that, but it’s something I thought I would do, just because it’s the big three-O. But after 9 months in Malmö, I don’t have a big enough group of friends to have a party at all. Don’t get me wrong, the few people I know in Malmö are amazing, but naturally I also miss my older friends from Stockholm. Those people are part of my family, they are the people I knew as I became an adult. They were with me through hardships and happy moments. And so I expected to celebrate my 30th together with them. Stockholm was my home for so many years after all. And it still feels like home, even if it might take a while before I return to live there again, if ever. 

So, since there won’t be a party, Vini and I are going to Malta today. And we’ll be there over the weekend to explore and celebrate my birthday, just us. We’ve never been, and I’ve been dying to go! I’ve decided I won’t open Facebook from now until Monday, when we get back. So thanks in advance to everyone who wishes me a happy birthday this Friday, I won’t be replying but know I’ll see your messages at some point. I might however, open Instagram and post a photo or two. It’ll be hard not to! ;)

Is a beard just a beard?

I've had a beard for most of my adult life. I've only had a really long beard once or twice, and I wasn't very fond of it. I didn't understand it back then, but most likely I didn't enjoy it because I didn't know how to care for it. I've settled with a scruffy face nowadays, and I used to only just trim it once a week or so, and not care much more than that. But when I was in Italy a month ago, I went to an amazingly talented barber at Acqua di Parma and he taught me a little bit about beard care. 

Apparently, moisturizing is important! And a face mask now and then doesn't hurt. As well as face wash and hydrating creams. Well actually I knew that, but I never really cared. I thought my skin and beard looked fine without all of that. After the barber treatment in Milano however, my life is completely changed. Now I'm using so many different products, and I've also started combing my beard, even when it's short. I put more effort into details as well, with shaving the upper and lower lines of the beard. It does look a whole lot better afterwards, and my skin feels great! I'm a different person, no kidding. The only thing missing now is a beard brush. 

The products I use right now are: 

Which products do you use for your beard? Let me know in the comments or send me a DM on Insta! 

Let's talk about bodies baby

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Everyone has a complex relationship to their body. But who can blame us really? In the age of perfectly curated visuals with all those seemingly flawless social media people, whose lives (and bodies) seem to be nothing short of a dream come true. We constantly get bombarded with these pictures and ideals, hell we even choose to bombard ourselves with them. It’s a little sickening, but I’m definitely part of it. And probably that’s why I too live with the urge to have a ”hot body” some day. 

Every time I go to the gym, I see at least one person with the type of body that I’d like to have. Those perfect veiny arms. A strong chest. The biceps every guy dreams of. A great bubbly butt. And a six pack of steel of course. And I think to myself ”That could have been me, hell he’s probably even younger than me! What have I done with my life?”. These people always make me feel worthless, even though I know that isn’t the case. Obviously genetics do play a role in all of this as well. Some people will never really achieve their dream body because of pre-disposed factors. But most of us can pull it off, it’s really not the hardest thing. I’ve even been really close once, but at the start of 2017 I had a couple of accidents and lost it all. 

Here’s what happened… 

I used to work out at the gym for years. However, I didn’t have a good plan and I didn’t really know what I was doing. So even though I went 4 times a week for years, not much changed with my body, although I was pretty strong by the end.

A conversation with my husband about Crossfit made me curious about what it was. I’m not sure if it was coincidence or fate, but there was a 21 day trial at my local CF gym. I decided to take a chance and see what the fuzz was all about. In just a week or two, I was clearly addicted. I bought a 6 month plan and went there basically 4-5 times per week. It was hard, tough training. But it was so much fun. And I got to challenge my mind and body in ways I’d never done before. For example, when I started, I didn’t dare even think about doing handstands, not even against a wall. And I couldn’t. Today I can do handstands without a wall, and it’s all thanks to the coaches I had back then. They helped me through so many things and going to Crossfit helped me through a really hard time in my personal life as well. 

My diet was also really damn great back then. I was doing strict paleo, which I still have a fond feeling for, even though I’m not 100% paleo anymore. When I was at my peak in December of 2016, I was so strong, I even had something resembling a six pack! I was at a level of fitness that I previously had thought I would never achieve in my lifetime. But I got there in just 6 months! I could hardly believe it myself, but the results were there. And I felt better than ever. 

But, there’s always a but. I stepped in something really sharp and tiny. Perhaps glass, perhaps something else. It was so small that you couldn’t see it. But something was there, inside my heel, and it wouldn’t get out. I went to countless doctors, did x-rays and ultrasounds. Results showed nothing. Weeks went by, and I could hardly walk. Since my doctor seemed to ignore me completely, I ended up at the ER, where they carved a freakin’ whole in my heel and in the words of that surgeon ”possibly removed the piece of glass or whatever it is”. I was like ”Oh thanks, that sounds reassuring”. Obviously that hole in my foot got infected and I had to eat antibiotics for 40 days (yes, FORTY DAYS!). I’m never walking barefoot again. Like ever. Seriously. 

Surely, a damaged foot wouldn’t stop me from exercising? Think again. Since I’d been limping for weeks, I managed to hurt both my knees while doing squats one day. This stopped me from doing any more exercises where knee bending was involved. And I couldn’t run either. OK then, at least I could do upper body stuff. But noooo, during the same period I had been really low on cash, so I was working as many hours as I could at a supermarket. I was in charge of the fruits and veggies and if you’ve ever tried lifting big full boxes of carrots, apples or any other dense vegetable or fruit, you’ll know that they can get quite heavy. And after doing that same work for weeks with almost no break, and no other type of activity for my body, my elbows started hurting. And so upper body workouts also become a no go zone. 

I quit that job after 7 weeks (not only because my body was doing really bad, but also because it was a shit workplace). I quit Crossfit, cause there was no point in paying if I couldn’t go anyway. No more workouts and the loss of my dear Crossfit family led to a heavy depression, which in turn made me start eating really bad stuff. I had no problem stuffing myself with 200 grams of chocolate every day. Lots of pizzas and fries also went down in a quick bite. But my biggest problem was definitely with sugar. I gained 10 kilos guys. That’s no joke, that’s the weight of 500 sushi rolls. 

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This was in the spring of 2017. My whole year basically turned into a sugar high, with some added rehab for my knees and elbows. My foot took about 6 months to completely heal. Last year was a mess. I’m still seeing a physiotherapist for my elbows (and my shoulder, that apparently also is a bit chaotic), but I’m much better now. I’ve started working out and eating better again. I’m slowly on the road back to where I was before. It might take longer than 6 months this time, but that’s alright, as long as I feel good and secure in what I’m doing. 

Every time I tell people about these accidents, they think that somehow Crossfit was responsible. It really wasn’t. Crossfit didn’t give me any damaged limbs or bloody stories to share. It only made me feel great, fit and look the best I’ve ever looked. It might sound superficial, but I have really never felt so good. So if you’re thinking about trying CF, just go for it! 

And let me know in the comments if you’re interested in my diet and I’ll post it here later on.

Selling prints this weekend!

Big news! This weekend I'll be selling prints at the spring art fair at Mitt Möllan, here in Malmö. The fair is open from 11am to 5pm. I'll be bringing around 30 different postcards and 10 different posters. Please come meet me, chat with me and maybe you'll end up buying something as well! Find the Facebook event here. See you soon! 

Some of the pictures I'll be selling: 

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Perfume week in Milano

Hi friends! I've been super busy lately, with commissioned freelance work, as well as traveling and having friends visiting from overseas. In the past couple of days, I've been in Milano for Esxence, a fantastic perfume fair. I encountered some really nice people, both professionals and perfume nerds, made new friends and eventually left with a bag full of samples and bottles (for a pre-flight visual, check my latest post on @scentrified!).

My favorites from the fair were: Regime des Fleurs (incredibly nice people and interesting scents, one of which was the biggest surprise of the fair to me, and they made me want to go to LA so bad!), Neela Vermeire Créations (Trayee and Bombay Bling are two new favorites that I might need to buy eventually), Nishane (their Pachúli-Kozha blew my mind, mostly because it was so damn potent! the house as a whole really peaked my interest, I'll need to sniff all of them soon) and last but definitely not least: Homoelegans, my favorite brand of all time. I ended up getting several of their bottles and now am only missing one (Ivre de Vie) from their collection. 

I was so high on all the fumes from the fair that I completely forgot to take any good photos, even though I was carrying around my camera four days in a row. But I did find this one shot of the entrance to the fair in my phone (they celebrated 10 years this year), something I must have taken before entering the scent haze.

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I'm your new Malmö expert

Big news! I'm the new Malmö expert at Metro Sweden. That means you'll see my face in the paper every Friday, starting today. For those of you who don't get the southern edition of Metro Sweden, don't worry, I'll be posting links to the articles now and then. And for those of you who can't read Swedish, well, use Google translate on the links! 

Obviously, my first outing in Metro is about plant shops. Here's a digital copy. Enjoy! And do let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Working alone

 I might not have colleagues, but at least I have coffee.

I might not have colleagues, but at least I have coffee.

Being a freelancer or consultant can from time to time be challenging. Not only do you have to find new clients and create your own plans and deadlines, but you're also working completely alone most of the time. For some people, this can be perfect as they don't enjoy being bossed around or constantly interrupted by colleagues. But for many, it's a lonely road to success, or failure. 

I've had my fair share of lonely days being a freelancer, and now a startup entrepreneur. I've recently started asking myself if I should look for a colleague or co-founder. Because I'm not sure I can carry the weight of Upleafting Company on my own shoulders. 

Nowadays I go to a startup incubator here in Malmö called Minc. I'm usually there 2-3 days per week. It makes me more creative, and definitely more productive, to leave home and work in a different space now and then. Some days I talk to other entrepreneurs in the open work space, and some days I just sit and work intensively on my own. I don't go to cafés that often, but maybe I should start? I'm just scared that the coffee bills will add up quite fast...

Freelancers and consultants, do you ever feel like you're on your own too much? What do you do to escape that feeling? Do you have experience with bringing someone in to your startup?