“The best way of getting the job of your dreams is by starting to work for free, do a very good job and become indispensable.” This is the piece of advice that Swedish designer Tina Olofsson got from one of her teachers at Art School.
A few years later, when Tina moved back home to mid-Sweden after graduating from Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, she decided to follow that advice. She marched into a theatre and managed to get a traineeship in the costume studio. Quite soon she realised that she needed tailoring skills in order to get a real job at the theatre.
She began a tailoring course and continued her traineeship. It took 5 years longer than she expected, but she got a contract job in the costume studio at last.
At the theatre, Tina learned a lot and had the opportunity to work in a very inspiring environment, getting involved in a variety of projects. One of the most inspiring people Tina has worked with is Patrick Kinmonths. She met him when making the costumes for Middle of Nowhere – a dance production by Norrdans.
For Tina, working at the theatre has been a journey involving hard work and many predicaments such as the difficulty of getting a proper, full-time contract.
In 2007, Tina met the love of her life and two years later she gave birth to their daughter. At this point, Tina’s life took a different turn. Tina wanted to get a stable income and decided to create her own clothing brand. With a work partner, she began to sell handmade finery for children: “I really like working with partywear and occasionwear. It feels good when you know that you are, in a way, part of great family gatherings which shape and strengthen people’s relationships”.
Tina’s brand is called Grace of Sweden. The clothes can be purchased online, but are also distributed to 2 shops in Norway. Tina would like to widen the product range available under the brand, while exporting in other countries outside of Scandinavia.
“The thing I like most about being a company owner is that I can shape my own goals and work hard to achieve them, besides of course making beautiful products under my own brand”. One of the goals of Grace of Sweden is to create a guardian angel foundation and help children in distress. Tina thinks that everybody can do something to positively shape society – everybody has his/her own way: “The models that you see in our pictures come from all over the world. We most certainly welcome models with disabilities – it’s how we contribute to the flourishing of a diverse society”.
Tina has a piece of advice for creative entrepreneurs, and perhaps not only them: “One thing I have learned from being an entrepreneur is to be more positive when things don’t turn out to be as you expected them to be. A mistake can open new doors and opportunities and sometimes life turns out to be even better than expected”.