Well, here we go again.
I've not written this honestly in a long time, partly because Solgave was born through two people in a way I call divine. Our blog site is back open, and we will both began sharing content there (for me Lessons from Abroad, Musings on Recovery and her Animal Therapy) We have built up over 5 years several thousand readers, but it never worked unless each of us energetically supported it. It literally has been our third child.
I can only speak for me, I see large pictures, I see ahead well, Sunniva sees the Power of Now, the present moments, well, in building a company and brand and bold ideas you need both.
If you go to our blog site Solgave.com and type in "The Birth, The Growth, and The Dream" and take time to read it you'll see we manifested by hard work, planning, and an intense amount of market research analysis, and marketing and brand adeptness that led our major competitor to offer to sell her business before we knew what a pet sit meant. To this day, knowing how successful she is, that is a compliment to what I do, build momentum through marketing what is real and authentic to us. The rest of the magic of this first business was all inspired and built around Sunniva's gifts.
So, we left the US unsure how to make the dream get going as fast as it needed to right where we were, it gave our little tribe a chance to explore life and to me, a real true journey into entrepreneur life. We pitched the proposal to investors, only needing costs to both move and cover living expenses while seeding the idea and getting our services and operating processes down. That small loan of 10,000$ was paid off in 3 years and we kept dreaming.
It was a monthly pack walk that Sunniva mentioned on a walk that I knew nobody in the US had done, not every month, not inviting every dog breed. It felt magical, and I knew we could do two things.
Help show why we were different, unite people by gathering in random spots and heading off in one direction with no shared common interest but love of nature and animals and connections. Politics, church, and divisive things were never brought up. Our pack walk faithful attendees were liberals, conservatives, and atheists...just humans and that is how we wanted it.
We thought we would be behavior consultants, my journey was documented via my writing and a podcast picked up by MIPJ.ORG. While not free from anxiety meds yet, I was free from a lot of unhealthy patterns and it was showing in big ways to all paying attention (more to them than me, because when we live in the moment it takes outsiders to see changes sometimes we don't see)
But pet consulting services, even one of my favorites called "Forever Home" just didn't fly. We feared nothing. Met with Fayetteville Animal Services Director after an email to the mayor helped set that up (or somebody nudged her) and we got to then have Sunniva do classes once or twice a month on animal behavior. Her skill set as I saw it was less about animals, but that's a gift, but about energy.
I saw my wife with my son in her belly (until 7 months) and then wearing him on her back in a wrap, take on red zone dog cases that most of the best trainers avoided. Well, they didn't have to for one, with years of slow buildup of clients and likely fearful. Dogs that kill other dogs or hurt humans are usually put down. (only once and trust he was never in danger, nor would be b/c even though a red zone he was small and I was right there filming as we documented all red zone cases for transparency to show what she did was not fabricated)
Her energy abilities are meant to be used to help humans in my opinion understand how to use them. I shared this story in one blog - my lengths of these are more mini nonfiction novels. A few chapters of a book if you will.
On the narrow boat the first week we met (Link on the Chain of Destiny) she told me she could go to that "space" and send out rings of energy that with my eyes closed I could feel 3 feet away. Yeah right!
I had come from Texas, fast food, fast cars, lots of TV and all things we consume and while I was in love in a soul mate kind of way, we had only met in real life during this Europe holiday, so I was doubtful
The first ring, OMFing god.
"Do it again! Can you do that again?"
This part of my wife is very charming and her real essence. Calm, humble, and while sure of her talents, almost confused that the world at large could not do it
We are all energy, we are light waves at the subatomic level and harnessing our own is I think part of her cosmic purpose.
Okay, fast forward.
Around May I was doing side work helping another socially conscious entrepreneur do mowing and landscaping while we prepared for the home birth of our son. Money was running out, I wrote "The Tipping Point" and humbly faced the "get a real job" future and one last push from me and trust from the Universe. Her father read that blog, paid our rent in May and in June it happened.
Neo was born, and 6 months of patience, flyers on cars, visits to shelters, walking our dogs and me never wearing a single t shirt but our animal care company one for what would be 3 years (t shirts I learned long ago are great marketing tools) and we grew 20% per month from that point forward. A competitor joined our team and a 4-month long business accelerator competition called the Startup Cup happened. A local journalist emailed me on the final day and I submitted. That decision changed our fate. We streamlined services, went from the first 25, to top 10, you go in front of judges and do power point presentations, show numbers, projections, and your vision.
We kept growing. While my son was born in a tiny apartment Sunniva said "in 4 months we will have our own home" and by god we did. We moved to Jackson in a home that meant more space, fenced yard for dogs, and things were clicking.
Then our first February, numbers slowed down as they do in the industry and we had not enough time to see or predict it. So, we did workshops where Sunniva and eventually a co-trainer, friend, and mentor to her Tricia Jennings would help do these Mindful based workshops to help people understand their dogs better. These were raw and got better each time, but they paid our rent. And then you get back to Memorial Day, and summer travelers and looking at year to year numbers we made it through the toughest part.
Except, culture gaps, a horse in Sweden that had a foal die, a lease up on that horse, and other variables that led to the last decision we made as a couple and we wrote about it in length. Moving back to Sweden to pursue the bigger dream.
This was a tough summer on me, my family seeing us go, and a lot of work to get us replanted again. But that spring was tough on us as a couple and so much was happening so fast.
So, we moved back and then I entered the toughest season of my life. We saw an addiction relapse after moving back to Europe and not to justify this AT ALL, but I lost every identity I finally found solace in and went dark. Very dark, so that incident saved my life if I look back with a lot of hindsight.
But it led to a period where we took time apart, I made decision I would later regret. We kept Solgave Animal Solutions going with a team of great people in the US and I went back in February 2015 to keep running it while we sorted out life. Leaving my kids turned out to be a horrible decision for me, and them. But again, I only see things and write about them far on the other side so there are no blame nets to cast, just lessons learned that brought strength, awareness, appreciation for what is.
I struggled to connect to SAS without Sunniva, and without my family the first half of that year alone was not pretty. Every crack in my vase was exposed. Nothing I'm afraid to talk about.
So, the business would dissolve or go into the right hands. Read the blog 'Solgave Animal Solutions- One Helluva Ride" if interested, but we found the new owners to be part friends, and a competent team and too much work was put in to see something so special just go away. I gave them the chance to rebrand it, name it their own and keep the client list, but they chose to keep it. An honor to us, because this word, Solgave was as stated brought by the divine, through us, not by us.
It's a philosophy, always has been altruistic, always our motives were not money but to help. Along the way, we faced life man. Global moves, business startups, a baby born at home, culture gaps, and dependency on non-natural things for anxiety and otherwise that took a toll on me.
I found my way out of that dark, moved to Norway alone and probably grew more than I ever have in my life by facing every aspect alone (no family back home and none locally in space to help or connect) I met amazing people, I worked in retail shops in Oslo, I lived with a mentor, a special lady and her son, all these things were done via fate and bartering the exchange of something I could provide for a room and food.
I ended up winning an appeal to stay in Norway by proposing Solgave Consulting (just a way to stay, as my heart wasn't tied to that yet) and then our family began a slow healing process and reconnection starting last summer.
I'll leave the rest of that part private, but that process also has taken time.
How does a couple who has lived apart for so long, had such little contact, reunite? Is it possible? Do you still share that same dream? I never let go of Solgave despite every friend and family member telling me to let go. It was time.
I'm stubborn and trusted my vision, so while in the short term it did hurt me by hanging onto that, (this story is my perspective, if written from two perspectives it would be more complete) it also has led to today. Same for every step Sunniva took, and while she keeps more inside, she never let go either.
During that late summer last year, I had the idea that came to me as something in 2012, an apparel company tied to our ethos. The second cash flow business to help this healing and personal development center get going. A place networked with other Dr’s, and therapists, and open minded people aspiring to make the world a better place through natural means.
Guidance, nature, animal therapy, coaching.
This dream is so real, and so close. I have some unique investment ideas that could get us there, but we enter a tipping point.
I wanted to give Solgave Clothing 6 months, and the next 2 will be its final push. It only needs to bring in enough to cover all our food costs so that we can begin workshops, constructing the larger framework of what Solgave Project (Farm - Gard) has always been.
Solgave Clothing would love to be a stand-alone branch, like Solgave Animal Solutions. This Saturday the site will be closer than it's been in organization and we announce the concept of all new designs. it'll make sense to all that know this 5-year story of hope and courage and heart, and I think has a good chance of making it.
But if not, I am prepared to seek work in Oslo or Gothenburg or anywhere. Cash flow in and cash flow out and a bit of savings needs to happen with kids to move forward. So, this window of time gives me major Deja vu's to the same window we pushed through.
We sold our second car, and hung on, and man did the Universe reward us by seeing how bad we wanted it.
The 5-year-old came in one day with a purse, we always talked about our dreams, and making sure children were not afraid to dream. She overheard us talking and brought in her coin purse and insisted we not give up on Solgave. Special...and we didn't.
Why do I believe in this company? The shirts are sweat shop free guaranteed. No products are used in the home that are tested on animals, so you can be damn sure no child in Bangladesh is making the shirt we get to use as a canvass for a message.
We want to inspire, and encourage you and the ones seeing the shirt. We want to inform and educate on things we learn via the social media channels in similar ways we did with SAS and the Yellow Dog Project and other initiatives we took on.
So, this week will see some late nights, some networking, some sample shirts handed to socially conscious business owners in the US heartbeat, Fayetteville, Arkansas and I trust that by giving everything I have, I'll accept the outcome by around July 1st and try to balance my grit and intensity with smiles and laughter.
I have been lucky, trained by entrepreneurs and mentored to become one since I was 21. Because of that passion and spirit of the entrepreneur life, I have not worked for someone else since 2008, and even that job I had total freedom by managing retail locations in a region and having a mobile office.
So, my hunger to keep this part of life I value, freedom to create our dreams and provide jobs for others and ultimately help and be of service, oh it is there in a big way, but I have two kids and a family who choose to live here, and it's an awesome place to be. A beautiful part of the world indeed, so this is my Tipping Point blog.
This is a glimpse of where we have been, why Solgave was born, some of the struggles, some of the success, and finally a rebirth of our union that now gives this ideology, philosophy, and vision - that many around the world believe in, a chance to take root and begin to really grow in how it has been seen and manifested over 5 years ago in our minds.
https://youtu.be/4AwONgaxNp4 (Homage to SAS)
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet