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The Scandiwegians Become Excluded

Coronavirus Covid 19 Cultural Change European Manufacturing Excluded ExcludedUK Form and Function Good Design Government Support Independent Business Lockdown Refurbishment Restoration Scandiwegians Self Employed Small Business Social Change Sustainability Sustainable Sustainable Business UK Lockdown

When I moved to the UK ten years ago, I studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Straight after graduating, I got work as a technician, installing and maintaining the fibre optics used to broadcast sports events, primarily English Premier League football matches.

It was good to travel all around the country (and even overseas) but it meant a lot of time away, and working outside in all weathers, often in cramped and dirty conditions - we are often called to repair cables that have been chewed through by rats! Meanwhile Corinna commuted every day into London's financial district to work as an analyst in a corporate bank, a job she was growing increasingly disillusioned with.

In 2018 we started Scandiwegians, initially as a sort of hobby and a bit of stress relief from our very demanding day jobs.

We both appreciate good, attractive & functional, design and it was fun to hunt for vintage gems together with my family on our trips back home to Denmark.

We also really enjoyed the process of restoring old items, of introducing designs to people, and the wonderful interactions we had with our customers. It's quite a therapeutic process when you take something a bit unloved, grubby and perhaps no longer working, and give it a new lease of life that brings pleasure to a new custodian.

It's also a highly sustainable business. Things that were designed by hugely talented people, and made with old fashioned skills in the long gone European manufacturing industry, live on into a new generation.

And it's a hyggelig business. Hygge has become a highly commercialised term outside of Denmark in recent years. But basically, it describes a sense of extreme contentment and well-being. And that's the joyful feeling we get when send out a product with love and its new custodian receives it with love.

In 2019 we both took the huge decision to become self employed so that we could enjoy a better work life balance and feel more rewarded by our work.

The plan was for me to work on an ad hoc basis as required by my former employer, who regularly used contractors during busy times.

The rest of the time we would both work on Scandiwegians, which was starting to grow to the point where we could no longer manage it in our evenings and weekends.

Things were going well, I was getting regular contract work and Scandiwegians had a very good Christmas 2019. But then Coronavirus hit and suddenly all sports grounds were forced to close, my former colleagues were put on furlough, and my contract work completely disappeared overnight. 

Due to timing, (because we became self employed after a certain date) we were ineligible for the government support for self employed people and I became one of the 200,000 newly self-employed people excluded from any financial support during the Coronavirus crisis.

So, all of a sudden, we were both completely financially reliant on Scandiwegians to live off - extremely scary, and not something we would have chosen - but we had faith in our fledgling business and embraced the challenge!!

We’ve been working flat out ever since. We knew that, in order to pay the bills, we had to have as much stock ready to sell in the Christmas period as possible. So that’s what we’ve been busy doing. And here we are, eight months down the line since the UK went into lockdown, and we're still surviving. 


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