In Grandpa family, we highlight creative, exciting and ambitious people who are close to us. This time we went out to a suburb north of Stockholm and greeted Cecilia Blankens in her newly refurbished (and very inspirational) mexican tile villa from the 60's.
You have had a lot of different jobs in basically every vocation: junior nurse, mailman, mover, stylist, radio show host, fashion journalist and then you started blogging in 2005. How did you get into blogging in the first place?
I was a journalist, enjoyed writing, and the blog phenomenon was getting momentum. My employer at the time – Swedish day press Expressen – asked me if I could start blogging for them. At that point I already had an anonymous blog with a friend for a year or so, writing about what hotshot dudes within the media world we though actually were hot or not so much.
Today you’re running a popular blog at Femina and have over 28 000 followers on Instagram. We feel that even though the digital world is swarming over with perfect photos that you are easy to single out with your personal, spontaneous, and heartily style. What’s your take on your role as an influencer?
I have a hard time identifying with the word influencer, and maybe that’s the difference? I’m not cunningly planning, strategizing and analyzing my social media presence – I’m just not interested in that. Maybe that’s why you feel that it's got a personal touch. If that’s the case, I’m glad!
Are there any topics that make your heart race just a bit extra?
For sure: sustainability, the thought that everyone can make a big difference, thankfulness toward the everyday miracles that are sprinkled all around our lives, and that things don’t have to be perfect to be perfect – if you catch my drift?
In 2014 you started up your own shoe brand Blankens. Why shoes?
I’ve always been obsessed with shoes, for some unknown reason it just gives me a lot of joy. I come from a direct descending line of entrepreneurs, and to me, it was blatantly obvious that there was something like ZERO options for sustainable mid-range-priced shoes online at that time.
When I told people that I was starting an online business selling just that most people thought that it was a terrible idea. Did I care? In the end, no. Have we been seeing a constant positive development of it ever since? Yes. What’s the lesson here? That you definitely should listen to other people’s opinions, but in the end mostly your own voice.
What’s the founding idea behind Blankens?
Creating sustainable shoes that stand the test of time, at a good price. We’ve never had revenue as a sole driving factor, it’s always been about the shoes themselves. Their quality, design, and durability - and I’d like to think that we deliver on those terms.
What does an ordinary workday look like?
For me, variety is of utmost importance. I’m trying to make a habit of breaking my habits. So sometimes I work form the office, sometimes from home, sometimes I’m running around town for meetings. Whatever the day holds, however, it almost always starts with a long walk with my dogs in the forest near my house. You couldn’t pay for better therapy if you ask me.
What are the best and most challenging parts of driving your own business?
The best parts are obvious: the chance to choose when and where to work, as well as the complete sense of ownership. The challenges are always there. Every day brings new situations that need tending to; payment systems failing, production orders from the factories that are lost in transit, the list is long. I’ve grown accustomed to it now, and in some way, it kind of suits me, kicking each problem out the door one by one.
What are your top three tips for those looking to start up their own business?
How would you describe your personal style?
I like casual pieces in accent colors that fit great, and then sprinkling personal accessories on top. I’m always looking to add at least 20% of a Peggy Bundy / Cher / Tina Turner / Dolly Parton vibe to any outfit. That’s the sweet spot, for me.