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How to Turn a Bad Breakup into a Booming Business

Emelie-Heden-Mobler

Emelie Hedén, the founder of Möbler, a unique furniture company that brings antique Scandinavian furniture to Singapore,  shares her unorthodox entrepreneurial journey with us, the challenges of being a female entrepreneur, and truly brings life to the adage; ‘If you put your mind to it, anything is possible’.

How did MÖBLER begin?

I moved to Singapore in 2008 cause my boyfriend at that time got offered the opportunity to move his life to Singapore. We lasted for 6 months. I moved after him cheating and kicking me out of the house. When I was moving around, I had a very hard time finding unique items to furnish my home with. I found a dealer in Singapore that had a lot of local retro items. He had a huge, messy (but in my eyes the most wonderful) place in Singapore. I asked if I could try and sell a few selected items from my home. I cleaned them up and had a small messy corner I used as photo studio. Listening to Ella Fitzgerald every day, I truly had the time of my life. I asked the dealer what his issues were at the moment. He told me he had tons of customers, the problem was the supply. Singapore is running out of interesting vintage pieces.

I told him what I could find in Sweden. We wanted to set something up then but neither of us had the capital. I then joined an exclusive furniture dealer as marketing manager and shut my business down. Two years later after getting to know the market better, I resigned and moved home to find partners and funding for my business. And here I am.

So why the furniture industry?

I have always had a great passion for old furniture and décor as well as loved purchasing and restoring. Sometimes I made my own furniture. Using my hands to create has always been a big part of my life. Since childhood, I have been a frequent painter of oil on canvas and sowing has also been a big interest. I love finding my mum’s old skirt with an interesting pattern and making it into a dress. This is one side of my business I love, to care for my furniture in a creative way. To wipe them off a few times a week, to polish the brass or even fix a broken desk. The times I spend with my furniture are those I enjoy the most.

What was the greatest challenge in your journey?

As any business owner regardless of industry the life on an entrepreneur is a lonely one. No one but yourself all the things you are carrying.

My personal entrepreneurial journey has been a lonely and tough road and it has also has very much been affected by the fact I am a woman. Being a woman in the male dominated entrepreneurial world is not easy. When I was looking for investments and were introduced to possible investors or fellow entrepreneurs they said: ‘Emelie, you with your charm and beauty cant have a hard time finding investors… right guys?’ They said, patting each others backs. But I needed to work hard to get the investments I needed.

When pitching my business idea I was often introduced as a female entrepreneur. In any other industry a woman is seldom introduced as a female lawyer, female doctor or female accountant. Even in Sweden that is considered the most equal country in the world, the entrepreneurial world has still a long way to go.

In terms of [challenges in the] furniture {industry], I would say keeping stock. Since my customers so far rather want to see the items before they purchase, the lead time from purchasing and the cost involved in keeping stock is high. Marketing is key in a lifestyle brand as Mobler, however marketing is never a formula that can be used by every brand, all strategies needs to be unique. And marketing takes time. To reach out and let people know you exist is tricky, and very time consuming.  

How did you manage to get the funds together to start a business?

Wow, that is a long story. I made a truly bad choice in terms of partner: He refused to pay me a salary and therefore after the container had left Sweden,  I started over again. I searched for angel investors in Sweden for a long time. I was introduced to an entrepreneur competition where I could get feedback on my business plan. I ended up winning my category. It made me so happy and motivated, at that time I realized Möbler was my call.

A mentor of mine told me I should crowdfund my business. I was scared at first as one investor made my life harder, what could 50 do? After a meeting with FundedByMe I decided to go for it. I raised the money I needed to start my business in less than 30 days and had to say stop.

What do you currently enjoy doing in your free time?

After reading this question, I just realized I don’t have much free time. Hah, so sad.. However, I do exercise, I take my time to. As an entrepreneur we need to let loose of some steam a few times a week. I tend to run errands by actually running to the location. Sometimes I attend casual meetings red faced and sweaty.  I draw a lot, paint, sow. That’s my therapy.  Sudoku helps me focus too.

Of course meeting friends: I’m an outgoing social individual. So I try to meet friends as much as I can. Wish I had more time for that. I listen a lot to pod casts, mainly those involving personal development. Love TED talks, mostly business related topics, at least a few each week. I also find reasons to laugh, even if its by myself. Very important to remain positive and thankful. It’s also important also just to do absolutely NOTHING. The head needs to relax. Watch brain numbing series for example.

What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?

Similar to above I guess. Plus:

  1. Stay positive overall: Hang out with positive people who lift you up, and that you lift.
  2. Listen to yourself, if your gut is saying no, you listen.
  3. Exercise
  4. Tell people about your problems, they naturally want to help you. Often other people are solving your problems. Ask for help!
  5. Get a mentor, or two.
  6. Don’t be hard on yourself: if you have made a mistake say: It’s ok Emelie, you just haven’t learnt yet, you will.
  7. Visualize positive things to happen. Because then they will.. I promise.

If you’re a female entrepreneur and you’re looking for a community of like minded individuals or even advice on how to grow your business, register for the upcoming H.E.R Asia Summit 2018 now or email us at marketing@herentrepreneur.com


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