Three years ago I made my first leather belt in my kitchen in Stockholm.

 

This summer I got the keys to my first own shoemaking workshop located in the northern most polar region of Sweden.

 

I will now tell you, whoever you are, what it took to make something.

And just maybe I can tip the scale for you who wants to follow your own dream.

Because if you do.

It would be neat.

 

-For everyone.

So buckle up reader.

This is my burnout tale from the heart of nowhere, and I call it:

-Vemödalen. Fu@£ fu£$ what have I done.

First I bought a SAAB 9-3 1999 Turbo SE. And we drove north together.

 

She was my partner made of steel and engineering and we listened to the darkest death metal you can imagine for thousands and thousand of kilometres together on her broken speakers.

 

You will be missed. No irony. No sarcasm.

 

You will be missed. - So much

We drove here.

Because it is cheap to live where where no one else wants to live.

Thats is the only reason we came here.

 

To start a company in any major city costs more than most of us will ever have. It sucks but in a market where everything goes to the highest bidder there is little room for daydreamers. But after spending the first winter in this magnificent frozen wonderland I was ready to root. -For when the sun lingers at the horizon during the polar night it is a place like no other.

From Stockholm to this.

Which according to legend Biegolmai, the wind man, created by taking two huge shovels, one to whip up the wind and the other to drop such huge amounts of snow that no one could live there.

 

One day, however, one of Biegolmai's shovels broke, the wind died down, and the Sami were able to enter Sapmi. And so did we. 2000 years later.

I started making gloves. Belts. Hats. I had never ever used a sewing machine before coming here.

And then bags. All these projects were designed, planned, cut and sewn during 16 hour workdays 6 days a week.

 

Those hours put me well over a year in leather experience very quickly. The reason for doing 96 hour workweeks were due to..

..we were about to get a kid. And my aim in not to be an absent dad in any way at all. My initial funds got drained at this time. Thankfully I am decent at a few other things. - So I got two jobs. At the same time. Plus parenting. For over a year

 

I got up at 05 and went to bed at 01. I am 37 years old. It breaks you.

 

I am very thankful that I have been skating my entire life because I don't think I would have made it without my history in accepting the suck. It is a sport where you often go big, eat shit and pay in pain for months because you were off by a centimeter. It teaches you a thing or two about enduring in lack of a better word.

I started making shoes for the kid.

And went on to making shoes for myself.

Then I started working towards my ultimate goal. Boots. Because I have dreamt of becoming a bootmaker for a very, very long time.

When I started closing in on designs and functionality I went so far outside my comfort zone I could see the earth as the the size of a kidney bean. I started visiting "Handmade Fairs" and events where I without fail set up the least prestigious small table and started talking to strangers. For days.

 

- On my left I could have a company making canoes with roll ups, posters and a TV.

 

- On my right I could have three people wearing matching shirts doing choreographed sales pitches. I had my boots and eight billion cells screaming that I should get T H E H E L L out of there.

But I stayed like a good boy have to.

 

You will too.

I kept on working 8 hours day with my boots. Then parenting. Then a 50% editing job for local news. Then every hour of freelance I could get to buy components and tools.

After about 18 months I reached my .Final design.

 

And that is me wearing them. I have no aspiration of becoming a boutique brand where everything is made and labeled somewhere else.

 

And in order to get to that point and get modern machines I had a pre-order sale on kickstarter. My pricing were low and based on promises from small manufacturers I had hired in Italy and Portugal.

Visiting the manufacturers however I realised that quite literally every conversation I have had with them for the past 8 months were utter nonsense.

 

So I have started over. Three times.

 

And every time has cost me an expensive trip. Startup costs. Pattern grading. Shipment. Prototype fees and a whole bunch of other things.

 

So looking at my budget right now I will loose roughly 35€ per pre sold pair.

 

-But I will ship them. And they have to be as good as I need them to be, and for that I have to pay from out of my own pocket. Accepting the suck. So I took another job to cover the difference.

 

To do that when I know I can get them made 54% cheaper (with worse quality) using my current contacts is hard buddy. But one has to accept the s u c k.

DO - EXECUTE - MAKE-IT-SO

NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT

ONE PUSH

A DEEP FU*"# PUSH FROM THE DEPTHS OF YOU. DO. RIDE THIS FU#€%# DONKEY UNTIL ONE OF YOU CROAKES, eyes on the price.

 

I have found a way to motivate myself when I am gutted. I do things like this. Very often once I put something on paper it becomes real and I can take it in. I think everyone will have to find their own way to take ten more steps. That is solid advice from me to you, try it out whatever it could be. Motivate yourself.

So after all that this is where I am.

 

- I have a sign at the main street in Övertorneå.

 

That is very important for my own psyche because it cements the idea in reality in a way. I don't have ANYTHING in the store yet. Not even a belt. haven't had time yet.

But I have managed to gather smaller industrial machines which I through Youtube and a newly found interest in electrical machinery manage to function from time to time.

 

Paid through having more extra jobs ofcourse.

And I have been gifted other things because the locals think it fun AND absurd that someone decided to move here. I have gotten more help than I ever could have expected by the community.

My workshop walls.

I unpacked some boxes recently I found around 20 pairs of unused boots for myself.

 

They were just too bad to even take out and test. So I started counting. If you went to work tomorrow and started writing 8 hours a day and did so for 82 days and had a computer crash only to realise you forgot to save, you would have lost the same amount of hours as me in those pairs alone.

 

I see so many people posts online about how easy it is to make money. It is passive incomes. Dropshipping import and export. Tee designs. Shopify Alibabas and do this and that it is FREE MONEY for any entrepreneur out there.

 

No there ain't. I am not even an entrepreneur. I am just stubborn.

 

But it is all nonsense and that I can promise you. I have worked in so many fields in my days I know the only way to get anything done is accepting the suck, and commit.

 

So don't fall for it. Just go all into that one thing that keeps you up at night. But go a l l i n.

Otherwise it won't work.

 

I am talking like I made it here. I haven't.

 

But you don't have to be a mogul to discern patterns on how a business work. And 100% of any guide you see online is wrong.

-You start, then you do more.

And that is Vemödalen.

© 2020 by Martin Eriksson. All media: Martin Eriksson