Råbygård

Blog – From Employed to Entrepreneur

I moved to Sweden twice. The first time was in December 1997, for a Postdoc position at AstraZeneca (AZ) in Lund. I enjoyed the lovely town, small but also big with the university and the still growing industrial area IDEON, giving it a vibrant and international feel. I felt at home and my Postdoc time flew by. I started playing volleyball, which I had played for many years in the Netherlands. This gave me the opportunity to integrate with Swedish people and I made some nice friends. I also went to the local Dutch society, but that was not my cup of tea, so I only went once or twice. At work there was a department with a lot of international people that played sports and did other activities together that I got included in. This is how I met my husband-to-be. We got together one month before I moved to Vermont in the USA for a second Postdoc. I lived there 2 years, but managed to get a job at AZ after those 2 years and moved back to Lund August 2001, this time into the house of my husband-to-be.

All was fine until March 2010 we got the announcement that AZ was closing their site in Lund. All research was moved to Gothenburg and we were welcome to move with them. My husband and I meanwhile had 2 children, so we decided not to move and instead try to find a job here in the Lund area. This was the start of my entrepreneurship. My husband immediately found a job in Copenhagen, which restricted my opportunities, since we felt we could not both commute 2 hours each day. I had a ceramic studio that I used as a hobby and as time went on the idea grew of starting my own company in this line of work. Since we realized that it might be difficult to make ends meet with only a ceramic studio, we thought of building an apartment that we could rent out. However, since an AZ colleague also was thinking of starting her own company (she is a microbiologist and got interested in making organic sourdough bread), it seemed more fun to build a bakery and work on developing the business with her. And so the ceramic studio became Ateljé Råbygård and grew from my hobby studio into a course center and meeting point for other ceramists (we are 15 members in the studio today). In addition to building the bakery we built a small meeting room, one apartment and four corridor rooms for students or other people in need of a room.

Looking back today, it has been a hectic and stressful time, but it has also been lots of fun and I do not regret taking the step to change my career. It is not only that I can decide what I want to do and work for myself or have my company, but I enjoy it. Each time I have had a course, people are happy when they leave. People give me positive energy, I see them relax and tune out from the daily life and stress. That has been the whole purpose with this idea; to create a place for relaxation, creativity and reflection.

All the best, Solange Korn Arvidsson