What I didn't expect from Stockholm

We recently ticked a big W on our list. We travelled to Stockholm to present our creative concepts to a fantastic client. Exploring new countries and also new boundaries of our business.

June 15, 2022

I don’t know whether it’s:

  • The incredible places I visit
  • My proclivity to new experiences
  • A fanciful imagination
  • My modest upbringing

But it seems recently every place I visit I have the same thought - “I could really see myself living here”

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Although an increasingly common occurrence, our recent visit to Stockholm was no exception. It was everything I’d expected and more, but I’d be hard pressed to say that we even scratched the surface. Our whistle stop trip was mainly built around client visitations and making the most of the experience professionally - but the vibe was there. Maybe it’s my somewhat Scandinavian heritage (As far as I know, Hands is Danish in origin and my blonde hair and blue eyes do little to disguise it), but Stockholm has always seemed inviting and at the same time elusive. As a fan of nature, design and music, Sweden seems to subtly and humbly celebrate the main things I hold close.

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Like all countries there are particular words, phrases and traditions that have seemingly no translation. A personal favourite of mine is “Fika” - it’s basically a coffee break - with a boat load of pastries. And boy, do they make some good pastries. It’s fair to say we Fika’d all over the capital (I think I’m using that right?).

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Our time in Stockholm held particular significance to me; presenting the creative directions (the most exciting part of the project I.M.O) to our biggest client. In person. In Sweden. With my 3 best friends/fellow founders. It really felt like a peak of our journey so far. As you can imagine, the week before, we clocked in some record numbers. The funny thing with this part of the project is that over delivery is always appreciated. The project is still in development so there are countless better ways of interpreting the direction based on the findings of the last. But, personally, I love it! I used to love “the all nighters” before a hand in at University. There is a mental mode that I slip into where I’m focused yet balanced. I don’t spend every waking minute working, but every minute I work, I feel I’m “awake”, keyed in and working towards a task I will complete before I move onto the next. I think it’s extremely difficult to access that way of thinking without the inevitable doom of a deadline, particularly when the required work is undefined. It might seem like a lot of time and effort for nought (as it will be impacted by the inevitable client changes, rendering most of the work produced unusable), but I view this as the time to practice my craft, to explore creatively, to think differently and create some wonder. I think this is a part that makes us (dooka) unique, the passion for delivery is (much to the detriment of calculated costs and ops direction) not defined by time. And if that means pulling together the final parts of the presentation on the way to the client’s studio; that’s how it has to be (of course nothing like this ever happens ;)).

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And yet; our trip to Stockholm shouldered some of the hardest conversations we’ve had to date. Not about the client, but about ourselves. Where are we heading? What are your goals? What is our definition of fulfilment or success? This perception is difficult introspectively and is (somewhat ironically) what we have built our business around, but I guess even a therapist needs a therapist. I’m not sure if this is everyone’s journey, but much like pain and pleasure, Ying and Yang, failure and success, our greatest moments externally have been complimented with our greatest analysis internally.

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I think it’s important to articulate the highs and the lows of starting your own business - and they often come hand in hand. I’ve never really subscribed to the “fake it ‘til you make it” model, because (from my understanding of what I’ve read and what I’ve heard) you never truly “make it”, and thus dooming yourself to forever faking it. We started Dooka with the objective to do things differently, ignoring the typical tropes and running a business how we wanted to. It might come crashing down around us, but just like ‘Ol Blue Eyes used to say: “I did it my way.”

I’m always interested to hear other people’s journeys, in entrepreneurship, experience, business and better places to be. H.M.U.

P & L


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