07 Jul Episode 65 For the Love of Sweden
Karin Rosenquist Schager is from Sweden, but she lives in Chicago with her three-year-old twins. She has a graphic designer background and came to Los Angeles to study and has since lived in Honolulu, San Diego and now in Chicago. She has traveled a lot but for the love of Sweden and all things, Scandinavian has never disappeared.
How Graphic Design Choose Karin
We discussed how early on she was drawing, doing calligraphy and she felt pulled towards designing and arts. I asked how the graphic design has changed since she started. Karin admitted that the digital world has meant most of her clients are around the world and she has not never even met them. All her work is online.
As a negative most people say they know how to design as they use software’s that are freely available. Printing is not as popular anymore. I admitted that I tried to do my graphics on my own for my first business. A big Failure. Giggling now about my first done logo baby head in a brown poo bag. Epic.
Start of Love STHLM Brand
In her design business, Karin feels she needs to bounce ideas and with her love.STHLM brand. She asks feedback from her husband and friends to make sure she gets is right. Her drawings, design and the lifestyle are full of Scandinavian look, clean and simple but sophisticated.
She aimed her design to the Swedish population abroad. However, it turns out most of her clients have turned out to be in Sweden, which was surprising. Her best seller is FIKA mugs that are “flying off the shelves” according to Karin and she is looking to get a stockist in Sweden.
Keeping Swedish Culture Alive.
Karin admits she listens to Swedish radio, television daily as part of keeping her culture alive. She is also a member of Swedish organizations in US like SWEA. She celebrates Swedish holidays with her family and Swedish friends. She says she lives Swedish life in the US. After living in the US all this time she identifies herself still as a Swede.
I tell that I hope that my kids take the Finnish military service and get the culture and language when they are in Finland. Though my kids are dual citizen so they can choose if they want to do military service.
What is your identity?
Question about identity Karin recognizes that she is a Swede when abroad. When she is in the US, she feels she is different. She feels her Swedish upbringing has made her look at life from a different perspective. The identity crises come when you look at news differently than the average US person.
For example, sustainability is less of a topic that people care in the US. But knowing that it is possible to change she feels that she has the responsibility to drive this change with her actions.
Karin admits she is more talkative and likes to take this part of herself to back to Sweden. Living in the US has made her more aware of the background story behind the political decisions that you would not know unless you have lived there.
How are Mothers returning to work after having children
I am interested in what is the situation getting back to work after having children. What do they do, return, part-time, or stay at home mothers? Self-employed phenomenon? Does this happen?
Karin worked for a big corporation, so she did not have the flexibility to return to the job. In general lots of women become stay at home mums. You cannot afford the childcare. An average American person you live average 7 miles from your parents so the family network is more important.
There is no childcare support like in Scandinavian countries. It is almost expected to stay at home and look after the kids. Karin explained when she was having the conversation with her husband he was surprised though supportive of her decision.
Starting your business
Both Karin and her husband turned up starting their own business when the kids were small. Karin says they are living the American dream, but in Sweden, you would have a safety net, in the US you do not. The childcare costs are high in Australia as well and if you don’t have a safety net, the family of looking after children you are struggling.
Many women have transitioned to another job, re-educated, trained to another job. It seems that it is always the women who stay at home.
If you are pinning for your home country Karin advice to join an organization to meet your countrymen like Svea to get same minded people to talk to.
What the future holds to Karin?
Moving home Sweden will be a transition to the whole family in a few years time. It will be a cultural shock as Sweden is different as a society and quality of life is higher. For example, you have paid leave and you get money from the government when you have children. However, Karin is looking forward to this new chapter in her life.
If you were looking to read or listen more about Scandinavian women, you might want to check out Flexible Work While Being Expat Parent episode with Ulrika Lilja.
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