Saturday, May 30, 2009

Veckans affärer

The Swedish financial magazine Veckans Affärer is looking for a new person to blog on their joint website Veckans Affärer was voted Magazine of the Year 2008.
The site is a joint website with TV4, Sweden's largest non governmental TV channel.

Some of the people who has blogged or are currently blogging on are Jan Sherman (CEO TV4), Johan Öhnell (CEO Telge Energi), Lars Sjögren (CEO Danske Bank) and Lars G Johansson (CEO Vattenfall).

Hopefully I will start working with VA next week, and I must say that I am excited about it.

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

Friday, May 29, 2009

First e-survey, inspiration by Drivhuset and more about ALMI

I've just sent out our first e-survey and I'm really excited about the response we'll get.
I've sent it to 151 persons. If you are not one of them and if you can read Swedish I can send it to you as well.
The e-survey will be a base for the development of The Fair Tailor, I hope it will give me a few pointers about what people are interested in.

I really like Drivhuset!
I have mostly spoken to Andreas there but today I spoke with Maria and it was very inspiring. We and ALMI have different ideas on how to solve things but there are other ways of doing things and Maria was good at pointing them out.

I spoke to Carin at ALMI today and we agreed to disagree.
They have their view on how things should be done and we do not share that view.
And that's to bad.
But it was a good talk with Carin, she managed to explain their view, earlier ALMI has not informed us on why they feel they way they do. They believe that a project like ours should be financed strictly by own capital, i.e. you should not loan money for a project like this.

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Looking for customers

Today I've had an inspiring lunch with a former colleague from my time at Volvo.
She had some good ideas about other products that we could broaden our range with.
On a different note she also told me that Volvo and SAAB thinks that there will be no real customer demand for electrical cars until 2027. My response to that is that it has been nice to have two Swedish automotive companies, but if they don't change their mind there will be none 2027.

We are looking for customers. Do you know of any company that you think might be interested in buying Fair Trade shirts? Please contact me at sebastian(a)

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mingle with Maud

I'm just back from having been at the mingle session with Maud Olofsson, Sweden's Minister of Enterprise.
It was inspiring to hear her speak about the plans they have to make things easier for small businesses. Hopefully they will do something about office turnaround time at ALMI...

There was a panel discussion about how to make it easier for entrepreneurs at the end and it was really interesting to see the difference between a professional speaker, the Minister, and the representatives from the University. She was so much better at getting her opinion expressed in a clear way.

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

I get knocked down, but I get up again, they're never gonna keep me down

The title of this post is a line from a song by the band Chumbawamba and it symbolize pretty well how I feel right now.
So, ALMI turned us down. They believe that for a project like this you should not work with loans, you should only use money you already have.

What to do?
Lay down and die? Give up the project?
Of course not, we just have to change a few things. Be smarter, do things differently.

I am stubborn so I haven't completely given up the idea of ALMI, but we need an alternative. And that's what I'm working on right now.

Today we're meeting with the Minister of Enterprise, Maud Olofsson. Well, we're not the only ones she's meeting with, Drivhuset has organized a mingle with Maud and Lena Ek who is a member of the European parliament.
I hope to be able to talk a little with them.

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

Monday, May 25, 2009

ALMI said no, again.

On the ALMI website FAQ you can read "It's about taking risks when nobody else dares to do. ALMI dares."
We have 1/3 of the money, the bank is positive to provide 1/3 but the government agency that is supposed to give loans when the bank says no is not willing to provide the last 1/3.

If you are an investor and you have the money we need and are looking for a good investment, please contact us.

Sebastian Stjern
The Fair Tailor
-Dress Responsible

A broken record player

After having spent a long weekend almost without working I now feel energized and ready to get back to work.

I know I sound like a broken record player but the main thing this week is the decision from ALMI.
Right now the situation is like this:
We are ready to put in 1/3 of the money we need.
The bank has not made any promises yet, but they like our idea and are positive to put in 1/3 of the money.
We are still waiting to see if ALMI will put in 1/3.

This week I'm also meeting with an agent for the unemployment agency to see if I'm qualified to get money from a fund called "Start your own business". If I'm qualified I will get money from them each month for six months. Not much money, but hopefully enough for me to pay my bills.

The e-survey I wrote about is almost finished. It will be sent to everyone who receives the newsletter or is a member of our Facebook group.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

ALMI and e-survey

I got a call from ALMI yesterday and they have not made a decision yet, we'll have to wait until Monday.
They will have a meeting on Monday where they will discuss our project, but I'm not sure on what they will decide on. They might decide to do an investigation regarding whether or not we will get a loan.
They might decide give us a loan.
They might decide not to even investigate if they should give a loan or not.
I might me biased, but I vote for the second option...

Right now I'm working on an e-survey. If you are a member of our newsletter mailing list or our Facebook group you will receive it. If you're not and you still want to participate in the survey, please send me an email.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Drivhuset focus group

This morning I was part of a focus group for Drivhuset. 
Some students from IHM Business School had put together focus groups to evaluate a new product from Drivhuset. Since both Lina and I have had a lot of help from Drivhuset I hope my input was of some use for them.

The blog statistics service told me that this blog was the number one site in Google if you search for fair trade tailoring, that's kind of cool.

Right now I'm just waiting for ALMI to call and say that they will give us a loan.
I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Our blog is blocked in China

I just heard from a friend in China that you can't access our blog on China.
I guess they don't like Fair Trade to much...

But we are in good company, China has also censored the Swedish minister of foreign affair Carl Bildt's blog.

Our first newsletter is out

Today we sent out our first newsletter. 
Would you like to receive it, please send us an email and we'll forward it to you.

I took most of the weekend off from work, but I did put in some hours on trying to write the spec for our website. And besides that, Lina and I talk about The Fair Tailor most of the time when we're awake =) No, it's not that bad, we have other things to talk about as well, but we both have ideas on what we shall do and how to do it.

ALMI is investigating if they will perform a new investigation regarding our loan application. Tomorrow we'll get information on what they decide. It would be a really tough blow if they would turn us down, so keep your fingers crossed. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

The bank and DEM Collective

Yesterday Lina and I went to meet Marja, our bank contact.
We discussed The Fair Tailor for over an hour an she likes our project.
She will now talk to her colleagues at the bank and with ALMI, things might actually go our way.

Yesterday we had a breakfast meeting with Annika at DEM Collective. I have written about DEM in earlier posts and I'm impressed by their work, we can learn a lot from them. They have their own factory in Sri Lanka and they are hard core about ecological and Fair Trade issues. Annika had for example a plastic bag filled with buttons for the next three months production. She buys the buttons in Borås, Sweden, and then she brings them when she goes to Sri Lanka. Impressive.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A world of change

This project is so different from everything I have done before. New information can result in new decisions in real time. Etteplan was a fair sized company, less than 200 when I started working there and over 2000 when I quit, but it was still a large organization. Decisions took time, now Lina and I can change things instantaneous if we want to.

SAAB (GM) and Volvo (Ford) was so huge that it's almost impossible to imagine. GM and Ford has about 340 000 employees. EACH! To develop a new car from scratch takes years. To change something as trivial as the seat belt reminder symbol takes about 18 months.
If you have the chance, and something you believe in - go for it. Start your own business.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Facebook group

We have launched a The Fair Tailor group on Facebook. If you haven't joined yet, check it out.
There is now four ways of following our progress online: This blog,, the Facebook group and our newsletter.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with Claes at Namaste Nepal (The English website is not really updated, so the link goes to the Swedish version) , an organization that works with helping underprivileged girls. Namaste Nepal train girls from all over Nepal in tailoring and our hope is to be able to employ some of the girls from the organization in our production house.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feedback tab

If you are a frequent visitor of The Fair Tailor blog you might have noticed a green feedback tab to the right.
If you press this tab you will come to our customer support area. I know that we don't have any products yet, but we want to evaluate the system before we decide to use it.
We use a system called Get Satisfaction, were both employees and customers can answer the questions. 
Please check it out and see what you think about it.
You can suggest and idea, ask a question, report a problem and give us praise =)

It feels really good to have handed in the business plan, now I'm really looking forward to hearing from ALMI.

Are you following The Fair Tailor on our Twitter yet? Check it out at

Monday, May 11, 2009

The business plan is sent to ALMI!

I had decided that midnight today was the deadline for us to send an updated business plan to ALMI, and we made it! We actually had 21 minutes left...
It feels really good to be done, now we can move on with the work until we wait for a response from ALMI.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Almost finished!

I've spent a large portion of the weekend working on my old friend, the business plan.
The work has come along nicely and I'm almost finished, I just have to re-work the summary and the risk analysis tomorrow. Then we will be ready to apply for a loan from ALMI.

When I worked at Saab and Volvo I used to get the weekends off AND get payed. Those were the days ;) No, to be honest I like what I'm doing now much more. I'm happy about the change of careers. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Change we can believe in

Today I have spent most of my time so far working on the business plan. The version I'm re-working is from the end of March and was the version we handed in to Venture Cup. It was written about 1.5 months ago and I'm surprised that so much have changed in such a short time.
The trip to Nepal changed a lot, the feedback from Venture Cup gave us a few new ideas, the move to IQube has changed things.

When I'm working it is easier to focus on the things that pile up on my todo list than what we actually do. It feels good to see signs of progress.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fair Trade and business

Today we met Ingemar for lunch to discuss fair trade in general.
He had some interesting tips on what to consider and other companies that we could learn from. DEM collective is a company that everyone can learn from, but Ingemar, and his colleague Caroline, also mentioned some other companies that we hadn't heard about before, as for example White t-shirt.

Later today we had our first meeting with our business coach Christian Zanders from Jetshop. We sat down together for a couple of hours and both Lina and I feel that Christian knows a whole lot of things that can help us. Very promising! I am really exited about this.

The IQube business coach

Today we have two interesting meetings, first we're having lunch with Ingemar Gustafsson who manages a fair trade network, Nätverket för rättvis handel, and later we're meeting with our IQube business coach Christian Zanders.

Both Lina and I are quite new to fair trade so hopefully Ingemar can give us some advice on how to move on.

Christian runs an e-commerce solutions company, Jetshop, and he will be our business coach through our time here at IQube. I've googled him and he seems to have a lot of experience in fields that are important to us. It's great that we got this opportunity through IQube.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moving forward, and backward

Today I have felt some of the advantages of sitting at IQube, I meet people here that might have solutions to some of the problems we face. 

I have also spoken to Viveca Reimers at Västra Götalandsregionen, she is an environmental coordinator at their purchasing department. She was very helpful and took time to give me a few tips, but the conversation also made me realize that we have a long way to go before we can deal with such a large organization as Västra Götalandsregionen...

Today I have made some progress on the business plan, I have set a deadline to finish it this week.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A new era has begun

A new era has begun, we have moved The Fair Tailor from our apartment to IQube, a company incubator.
I think I will come here most days, Lina will also come by from time to time, she is still doing her internship at Universeum.

Today I have done a lot of things, but the business plan progress is slow. I don't know why, but I cant seem to get any flow in that work. And I need to finish it so that I can send it to the bank, to Arbetsförmedlingen, to ALMI, to...
To put it simple, it has to get finished.
But on the other hand there are quite a few things that has to get finished. I suppose the best way to solve it is to do everything at once...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Readers from all over the world

I think it's really neat to be able to see visitor stats from the blog.
The visitor number is growing constantly and I'm glad that so many persons find an interest in what is happening to The Fair Tailor.
Since I started writing in mid March people from 31 different countries have read the blog. I like that people from e.g. Qatar, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Japan are reading the blog.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A new newsletter - Sign up

I plan to spend a big portion of the day together with our business plan.
The plan we have now is good, but it was written over a month ago and it's a living document, it needs to be updated every now and then.
And even though the feedback from Venture Cup was very positive, there are some things we want to change based on their advice.

The Fair Tailor will start a newsletter where we will give a summary on what has happened lately.
If you want to start receiving the newsletter please send an email to sebastian(at)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Live interview with Lina

Now is the live interview with Lina available on the Radio Prime website.
You can listen to Lina here. (In Swedish) Blogg listad på