Green pioneers in children’s clothing

In our ongoing feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind her successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, we talk to Vigga Svensson, the founder of Vigga, an exclusive and sustainable fashion brand for small children.

Green pioneers in children's clothing
Vigga Svensson said she has made her circular idea become reality. Photo: Submitted
Vigga Svensson was behind the internationally-successful Danish kids’ wear brand Katvig but she was disheartened by seeing her green products sold into a ‘non-green’ environment. So she launched Vigga a new concept that sells organic children’s clothes through a unique circular subscription service in which subscribers receive larger sizes when their children can no longer fit their clothes. Those too-small clothing items are then in turn passed on to a different child who can fit them. 
How did you come up with this business idea?

For ten years, my partner (and husband) Peter and I ran the successful Danish kids' wear brand, Katvig. It was internationally acknowledged for its sustainable pioneering work and was nominated for, and won, several prizes. However, we were frustrated to see how our green product was sold into a very 'non-green' market, where the clothes were used very few times. Several studies from the UK, US and Denmark have shown that people wear their clothes just a few times – sometimes as little as six –before they throw them out or put them away. 
This is in large part because because buying new clothes is just so cheap. And when it comes to children's clothing, it’s even worse, because even if you aim to be a responsible consumer, you are forced to take part in the crazy consumer race as a parent as your child grows up but her clothes don't. That leads to a massive waste of money and resources. Our frustration led to the development of, a concept standing on two legs: a sustainable and high-quality designer brand for kids and an innovative circular subscription service. The latter solves both problems: You save a lot of money as a subscriber and we reduce the footprint by up to 80 percent.

What were the initial challenges?
How did you overcome them?
At the outset, our biggest challenge was to believe in such a disruptive concept. When we got the idea, we thought that it was a very interesting project but not very realistic. So changing our own mindset was quite a journey. Through countless discussions with many clever people, we finally felt encouraged to go for it.

How has the journey been so far?

It has been a very interesting, encouraging and inspiring journey for us. From the beginning, we have been very open about our idea and that attitude has been very fruitful. I still remember a phone call from a Danish environmental consultant, who said: “This idea is so good, you have to do it!” Meeting former Denmark’s former environment minister, Ida Auken, was also a personal milestone.
Last June, Vigga received a pledge of 2.2 million kroner from the Danish Business Authority’s (Erhvervsstyrelsen) Fund for Green Business Development to support further development of this sustainable concept. In addition, has a Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS ) certificate that secures a production free from harmful chemicals and unnecessary burdens to the environment and the suppliers hold a certificate that secures decent working conditions. Other great milestones include meeting a subscriber on the street, receiving a super happy email from a mother or having a subscriber change from one size to the next for the first time.

How has becoming an entrepreneur changed you, personally?

I have been an entrepreneur for so many years now that I don’t remember how life was earlier. But when I talk to people who are employed, I see a huge difference. It is mainly about feeling secure, I guess, while I have to find security within myself. It definitely takes some courage to be an entrepreneur – and a great deal of general trust.

Any other personal reflections and/ or message to budding entrepreneurs?

My best advice is to share your good idea with others. Spread the word and listen to the reactions and inputs, so as to benefit from other people's experiences, opinions and networks. I find that many entrepreneurs are very anxious to share what they have in mind. My own experience, however, is 100 percent positive. Unless you have invented a gizmo that can be patented, let the entire world know what you're up to.
Sparsh SharmaSparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in top Indian media companies, he came to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s.

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Danes show entrepreneurs how to ‘startup everywhere’

Looking to launch a startup in Copenhagen or Aarhus? It can seem tricky to navigate the startup scene, especially if you are new to the city or country.

Danes show entrepreneurs how to 'startup everywhere'
(L-R) Thomas Nymark Horsted, Sissel Hansen and Sofi Sitha Natarajah of Startup Everywhere.
This was the issue that Sissel Hansen, a 24-year-old Dane, faced when she moved to Berlin in 2014. So she decided to create a guide to the city’s startup scene. 
“When I moved to Berlin I relied on my Lonely Planet guide for where to sleep, eat, drink coffee and which activities not to miss, and I could see that a similar style of guide for startups would be invaluable to people moving to a new city and wanting to start a business,” she told The Local. 
She said it shouldn’t be “so damn hard to find relevant and in-depth information about your local city and the process of starting a business in it”.
Although she said many people questioned the wisdom in putting out a physical book in today’s digital world, Hansen’s guide to Berlin proved successful enough that she moved on to a second guide focusing on Aarhus’s start-up scene. 
Copenhagen was next and now Hansen and her team at Startup Everywhere have put out guides for nine European cities and sold around 14,000 copies. 
They have also just released an online and mobile app, Startup Guide Maps, as a navigational companion to the print guide featuring spaces, incubators, accelerators and cafes with wifi in cities including Copenhagen and Aarhus.
Thomas Nymark Horsted, who joined the company as COO six months after the release of the first book, said the global startup scene is changing rapidly. 
“Twenty years ago there were only a handful of cities where most of the world’s innovation happened in, such as Silicon Valley, Boston, New York and Tel Aviv. Now it’s a global phenomenon but in spite of this, the challenges that entrepreneurs face are local rather then global. That’s why the platforms that Startup Everywhere create makes perfect sense and it is great that people find value in this,” says Thomas Nymark Horsted, COO of the company. 
Startup Everywhere plans to release guides for 25 new cities in 2017 and over 50 more in 2018.