A Swedish Blogger Was Laughed at. Now She Has a $4 Million Business.

Max Phillips

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Isabella Lowengrip started a blog when she was 14-years-old. The Swedish media laughed at her. Isabella herself tells the BBC:

“I remember the Swedish media laughing at us and saying, ‘look at those young women trying to do business with blogs’. We didn’t give up, though, and I’m very proud of it.”

I wonder what those critics think now. Using the penname Blondinbella, Isabella took advantage of the blogging craze which swept through Sweden — teenage girls in particular. She defied her critics and today, around 1.5 million people visit her fashion and beauty website every week. It is now translated into English, German, French and Arabic, and she has become one of the most popular bloggers in the Nordics.

The media began to take her seriously when she demonstrated a keen eye for business. As a teenager, she bagged advertising and sponsorship deals for her blog. She invested and launched Lowengrip Care & Color, (LCC) which, according to the BBC, was ranked as Sweden’s fastest-growing beauty company in 2016.

Over the years, she’s ventured down various avenues, developing a shoe company and a personal finance workshop, among others. In 2010, she was named ‘Business Networker of the Year’ by Business Network International.

So, I think we’ve established she’s a successful entrepreneur. It’s a coming of age story — one that bloggers and non-bloggers alike can learn from in their lives. If you want to make an impact as she has, take a few leaves out of her book.

Know your flaws

When your blog generates 1.5 million views a week, you could be forgiven for being a little cocky. However, Isabella says she doesn’t consider herself a writer, admitting: “I still think I write quite badly!”

As a writer myself, I can relate. I did an English degree, so I assumed I’d smash my way into the blogging community with relative ease. Guess what? I was wrong. I had, and still do have a lot to learn — but that’s okay. Your vulnerabilities hold value. Not only do they show you need to progress, but they also highlight where you have improved.

Isabella claims she’s “not the best leader,” saying she’s more effective at producing ideas. If you can acknowledge your flaws as she does, you can put more time into growing your strengths. Sure, Isabella is a CEO. But if she purely worked on her leadership skills, she may not have had the idea for her shoe brand, clothing label, investment company or personal finance workshops.

If you fail, jump on the horse again

It’s not all been sunshine and rainbows for Isabella. Her glossy magazine ‘Egoboost’ and online shop ‘Bellme’ didn’t take off but she doesn’t have any regrets:

“I learned so much during those years. You have to just jump on the horse again and not be so afraid of what people are thinking.”

It’s hard not to dwell on failures. Of course, it’s easier to say this when you have numerous successful businesses, and only two fail, but the point still stands. My dad would always scold me for throwing a strop whenever I made a mistake in a football game. As a hormonal teenager, I shouted at him. Today, I know he’s right.

A lot of people live their lives in fear of failure and the judgment that comes with it. If Isabella thought that when the Swedish media criticized her, I wouldn’t be writing this article. Suppose she felt that when her businesses failed, she wouldn’t have recorded $4 million in sales in 2016.

People are always going to have their opinions — you know how the famous saying goes. All you can do is get back on the horse and keep riding.

Know when to get help

Among other things, Isabella puts her success down to collaborating with “smarter colleagues.” It can be hard to accept someone might have better ideas than you — especially when it’s your business. They are supposed to be like babies, after all.

LCC’s goal is to become “the next Estee Lauder.” I personally don’t know anything about make-up, but that’s ambitious. Isabella understands she can’t do it by herself. So, she’s invested in others. She handed chief executive duties to her business partner, the economist and journalist Pingis Hadenius. Isabella is the company’s public face, and her official title is creative director.

In business and life, there seems to be a stigma surrounding asking for help. Despite one in four people experiencing mental or emotional problems, a mind-boggling 75% of Americans and Europeans don’t seek treatment, according to Healthline.

Help in most areas of society isn’t far away. Whether it is business or life, you needn’t be afraid to ask. If you’ve experienced it, someone else likely has too. Plus, if you do get help, it gives you time to focus on what matters to you. Isabella enjoys the creative side of her work, so handing over the executive reins to her business partner is a smart move.

It’s a principle she has carried over into her personal life, too. She was called out for her divorce and purchasing in-home help (cooking and cleaning) — a taboo in Swedish society. But she doesn’t care:

“It’s important for me to not have to choose between my business and my family life, and if I’m a happier person by myself, then I am also a better mum, a better colleague and a better leader.”

The story of Isabella Lowengrip isn’t the most inspirational one you’ll ever hear, but it is perhaps one you need to hear. Her story isn’t revolutionary, but it offers valuable lessons. There will always be naysayers in everything you do — whether you’re leaving your job at a pub or creating The Huffington Post. Isabella grits her teeth and doesn’t stop growing.

That is all you can do. Keep going, and people will soon take notice.

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