The Story That Started It All
From karate lessons to freshly baked bread, hear how our Creative Director went from sleeping on a beanbag chair to designing men’s accessories.
Have you ever heard someone say that ‘success is just around the corner’? The thing they don’t tell you is exactly how long that corner is. In this episode, Mikkel talks about the longest corner of his life and how one necklace started a journey to help other men tell their stories.
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TRENDHIM: Welcome to Trendhim’s Tell Your Story Podcast. We're sitting down with our own creative director today, Mikkel, and hearing why Trendhim wants men to tell their stories. So Mikkel, let's jump right in. What do stories have to do with men's accessories?
MIKKEL: Thank you for that amazing intro. I feel humbled.
Yeah. Well, I mean, I think it started for me back way before we even started the company. Where I remember buying a, honestly it was a terrible quality necklace, but nonetheless, a necklace that – it was cheap too, but it just, you know what it did for me when I got it and I put it on, it was just something that, you know, it's hard to put to words.
And for many people, it will be whatever. They wouldn't even look at it twice, but for me, when I put it on, it just felt like. At least to myself, I started telling myself that story, like about who I am, what my values are, and I was finding myself through that a little bit. And like when we say, tell your story, it's not like we were saying that if you don't wear accessories, you're not you.
TRENDHIM: So this idea of telling your story has a lot to do with sort of expressing maybe something that you don't walk around saying every day.
MIKKEL: Yes. So when you wear clothes, you do the same thing. When you drive something, you do the same thing. When you cook – the spices you choose to use. The rug on your floor, like all the decisions that make up who you are and that help tell your story to yourself, but also to your surroundings.
You can do that through many, many things, but accessories are what we chose to dive into and really be good at.
TRENDHIM: Well, which one do you think is more important? Telling the story and believing it for yourself or telling the story outwardly. Or does it even matter? Is it different for every person?
MIKKEL: Yeah. I think it's very different for every person, and it probably also varies how you communicate that to yourself. Like we're getting really meta here, but It really varies from person to person and to one person, like it was with the necklace for me, that necklace could mean absolutely nothing, but to me, it meant a lot and it didn't mean a lot for years, it meant a lot for three months. So there's also that spectrum like it can mean a lot for an evening where you wear something or it can mean a lot for almost a lifetime if you wear a piece of jewelry, right? Like a wedding band for example. Or it could be something that was gifted to you from someone that has sentimental value, and that's part of your life story.
TRENDHIM: But that's the thing with stories anyway, right? They have to evolve and they have to change usually. I mean, if you're the same person you were when you were 17, uh, that's a choice. But yeah, I guess in a way it also does go back to the – are you telling it for yourself? Are you telling it for someone else? Is this the story for today? Is this the story for life?
MIKKEL: Yeah. I don't think we're, we're trying to imply that you should care about what I'm wearing, that you should care about my story, but at least I care about what my story is. And so expressing that as important to me. Then you, during your day or during your life or during your month or your trip or your evening out or whatever it is, you most likely encounter people that, that value, that and are interested in that.
TRENDHIM: Why did Trendhim choose to tell your story instead of something like ‘we sell cool stuff’ or ‘be your own man’ even? Was it because of your individual story and your experience with that accessory?
MIKKEL: Yeah, it definitely came from that. We actually had ‘be your own man’ at some point, but… it just didn't feel right. And so we started boiling it down and talking about it and talking about it, talking about it. And eventually, we came back to that tell your story part, because that is just what we think we do with accessories.
We do that with a lot of things like I said, but accessories are what we choose to conquer and be good at and really help guys there. We also do that through the brands that we have and the fact that we design our own products is. It gives us the ability to offer something unique. We could do that through selling other brands, but it's just not as much your story if you can find the products everywhere.
TRENDHIM: Yeah, and it gives, selfishly, it gives Trendhim sort of the opportunity to be that chapter one, if you will, of someone's story. You know, that what you created gets to go on and have a life and many different lives once it leaves the warehouse. That's pretty incredible.
MIKKEL: That is so true. Like that's what I talked about also with sentimental value, and we got several people in house that, when they think of telling your story, that's what comes to mind. You know, it's not the piece itself. It's what you experienced along with the piece, for example, a ring or necklace or whatever it is, the experiences you have when you wear that.
And it's what the story becomes throughout the time that you use that product.
TRENDHIM: Well. Speaking of becoming. The Trendhim story. It's on our website. People can read it, but I think it's really interesting… Did Trendhim really begin as a bread delivery service? Was that really your option in life?
MIKKEL: So my dad was entrepreneurial, and I guess that sort of rubbed off on me. And so we tried a bunch of things to be honest, like, we also designed websites and we sold a few, and they were terrible, to be honest. And then we came up with this idea that, well, now that I'm talking, actually I remembered that I also, when I was maybe 10, I sold karate classes for what amounts to 25 cents for a lesson. I managed to charge one person, but I never gave the lesson because I forgot about it,
So yeah, I've had that entrepreneurial itch I think for, for my whole life. And then the bread thing came around and we thought it would be genius. Because my parents always went to the baker every morning to pick up bread. So why not start a business delivering that bread for them?
They could order the day before and we would deliver in the morning. We actually got the website designed and we were halfway through making the website when we stumbled upon what seemed to be a better option. At least we didn't have to get up very early in the morning and the weekends. So we decided to go with men's accessories instead and lean into what we were more inclined to do, which was online stuff. Tech stuff.
TRENDHIM: And you and Sebastian, you guys started the company together, right? So you've been friends since your childhood then, and you're still working together now. Is that tough? How is it to keep that friendship for so long and work together?
MIKKEL: I mean, throughout school, you know, you meet different people and life sort of goes different ways sometimes, but we've always, more or less stuck together. I remember the longest period we've had without talking was a period of three to six months, I think, where I got really pissed at Sebastian for pushing me during a soccer match.
At least I thought, in my opinion, he was pushing me. And he disagreed, I guess. And then we both cold-shouldered each other for six months until… until Christmas came around. And I could not resist asking him what he got for Christmas, and then the friendship flourished again from there.
TRENDHIM: As most friendships do, right? You just realize, eh, it's fine. Let's whatever.
MIKKEL: Yeah, I mean, we had that relationship in school where it wasn't a question about whether or not we were hanging out today. It was the question about where – your place or my place. And then we also like throughout building the company, we lived together. Here's a funny story.
Because we invested so much money and the company was quite small and we spent all our time on it… at least as much as we could. We had to live together in an apartment, 63 square meters, and also have the company there. Meaning all the inventory, which was, as you can hear, not a lot at that point, but it was still enough for us to not be able to have our own beds.
So we slept on two mattresses in the living room in front of the TV. Sebastian at that point was, uh, very interested in the opposite sex, let's put it that way. So at some point, he had a girl over and I had to sleep on a beanbag chair in our office room for the whole night while he was with that girl in the living room.
So it was tight! And then when we lived in that apartment, we also had a part-time job. So every day we would pack the orders – and the part-time job was at the post office actually, so from late afternoon to late evening, so it fit perfectly. We would pack the orders and then one of us would have to go to work and we would just bring the orders to work.
And done deal. Once that got too small, the apartment, and we'd also managed to quit our post office jobs, we rented a Villa in a suburban neighborhood. But the neighborhood was obviously just families. So instead of renting an actual office space, we moved into that house and in one end had the company stuff, and in the other end, we had our own rooms. So that was a big deal. Uh, yeah, we lived there for four or five years. I think that's when we got an actual professional office space and got our first employee shortly after, I think.
TRENDHIM: And what was that like? I'm sure it felt great being able to quit your job at the post office, but being able to hire someone else and that responsibility.
MIKKEL: It was scary, dude. It was really scary. Oh man, like you, you just have no idea what you're doing and you're just trying to screen for something that ends up just being likeability. I remember Karina told us that she's never had a job interview that was that thorough. Where the decision took that long to be made, you know, cause we talked to her so many times, we would call her up afterward and ask another question and then hang up. And then a day later we would call her again. But yeah, we ended up hiring her and we got a good one there.
TRENDHIM: And then you've just continued to grow and continue to hire great people, if I may say so myself.
MIKKEL: Indeed. Yes. You are one of them, thankfully.
Like now that we're talking about the whole story of Trendhim and what we've done through the last 13 years, I've become a bit nostalgic and thankful and very grateful of what we're doing now compared to where we were. Because when we started out, you know, we just, there were so many challenges and those things ended up being things that meant we couldn't offer customers what we can now. So we would buy designs that were already made, you know? And sell those, and the quality wasn't what it was supposed to be… and now we design and manufacture our own products like we do, which is just…
I just think it's really, really cool. I'm super proud of what we've done and the team we have and everything that we can now offer customers. And I'm very excited about what the future holds for what we can do. Like we're trying to scale up the number of products that we make. We're trying to convert our whole inventory to being our own products.
And it's just, yeah, it's a bit humbling to think about, to be honest.
TRENDHIM: And especially because you and Sebastian and now the team, but especially you two at the beginning, you worked for it. There's no denying that it wasn't an overnight success story. No matter how easily it writes on paper or how quickly we listen to it here, it's taken how many years?
MIKKEL: 12 or 13 I think we’re at now. I'm telling you, like, okay, we can argue what hard times are right. But, at least I remember there was one point where I couldn't afford to buy soda for a Christmas party with my family where my parents had to buy that for me.
It was it, it was tight. No, I think when you're in it, and I'm grateful that we did this while we were young and naive and halfway stupid, you know, because you just do stuff and you take chances that you would not do otherwise.
Like if I had known how many years it would be before we just got a minimum wage income, I would not have. I don't think I would have done it. Cause you always, you just always think that success is around the corner, but it's just not.
TRENDHIM: It's just a really long corner, I guess.
MIKKEL: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you barely notice when you're around it. It's not like from one day to the other, it's just slow going.
TRENDHIM: Yeah, but being able now to offer your own designs… Again, that all goes back to that desire to really help men tell their story, and the more you can be a part of that from the beginning, the more, yeah, just the more pride, like you said, the prouder you can be of the final stories.
MIKKEL: Like the more products we can ship out that our own, the prouder I am, and we're at 50% now, I guess, or 60%. Well, definitely moving in the right direction. I'm a happy little chipmunk.
TRENDHIM: Well being a happy little chipmunk is not the worst thing to be, because you could still be waking up at 3:00 AM to deliver bread. So for all the bread deliverers out there… thanks. Glad I'm not one of them though, but thank you for letting us hear about this today. It's really fascinating. I know there's a lot of hard work in it, but it's also nice to know that. You're proud of that work and the things that we make are something that we can be proud of. And then the stories they're going to go on to tell.
It does mean a lot. Even to work here. It means a lot to be a part of something bigger than what you see on the page.
MIKKEL: Thank you so much.
TRENDHIM: And thank you for listening here at Trendhim, we believe every man has a story worth telling. What's yours?
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