Summer is almost here by Nelli Arnth

Last week we have had great sunny weather in Denmark. It felt like summer.

My husband and I have spent many hours outside already. Working in the garden. Cutting grass. Painting the dry woodwork around the house. Planting the vegetable garden with our curious hens in our heels. To walk around barefoot in the soil and nurse the newly planted seeds – all while the sun keeps you warm – that is something I love so much. 

Since we live close to the Wadden Sea and have a lot of trees in the garden, we also have lots of birds. These days they are all busy nesting and singing. This is something I have really learnt to appreciate. Especially the swallow both sound and looks beautiful. Right now we have two swallow couples nesting in the old barn.

Yesterday I went hunting with my husband. Sitting in silence in the hochsitz overlooking the forest. Sipping tea and reading books in the evening sun. My husband smoking his pibe while keeping a keen eye at the fields. The sun went down. 

I look forward to summer and many more small moments like these.

Taking care of yourself while running a business by Nelli Arnth

I talked to a friend of mine last week who is also self-employed. Like me, she has no employees. So everything depends on her. She told me that she had been sick on-off for a month now. But she didn't feel that it was okay to let the customers down and tell them she had some days off. So she kept on working and feeling sick. This is something I hear a bit too much. 

Also I red this book about dangerous management (Livsfarlig Ledelse af Christian Ørsted). It is from 2013, so maybe some things have changed since. Even though I am afraid it have not. It had some crazy facts to be told. The most scary one was that it stated that WHO predicts stress to be the greatest threat to the public health of the western world. Furthermore WHO predicted that in 7 years 50% of all deaths will be "stress related" in some way. I mean wtf!

Also the book informed that Danes are some of the most loyal employees in the world. It makes us go to work even when we are sick. We do that, the book says, according to a great sense of community and the fear of letting our colleagues down. When we swallow pain killers and keep on going to work without listening to our bodies, it obviously makes the risk of infecting your co-workers much higher and in that way we keep on infecting each other. 

I did the same thing when I had a full-time job. I wanted to show everyone that I would go really far for this company. Therefore I went to work when I was sick.

It is stupid of course.

 

It got me thinking about how I take care of myself, while running my business.

For me the key word is balance. I definitely want to go really far for my customers. But I also want to be running my own business in 5 or 10 years.

I see so many newly started entrepreneurs that burn out, simply because they work too hard and totally shut down the connection to their body. In many entrepreneur communities it is idolized to work your ass of. Having no sleep, drinking 40 cups of coffee and working 70 hours a week. I am no judge, people can do whatever the fuck they want. 

But one thing is clear. Everyone can become sick of stress.

Too often I hear people with stress saying "I'm shocked, I thought this could never happen to me". As if they were a stronger species and stess only happens to the "weak" ones...

So in the end, "working your ass off" and ignoring your body can be the reason why you have to let go of your entrepreneurial dream. What a shame.

Twisted fern _ Hönshuset Creative Studio.png

When I feel the first signs of sickness I postphone appointments and make sure that my calendar is not overbooked (I try to never overbook it). I pamper myself a bit. Maybe I work from the cough with a warm blanket. If I get tired I take a nap. I drink a lot of tea. I listen to my body and I only take painkillers if it is absolutely necessary. I try not to think of the sickness as a bad thing. But more like a opportunity to take good care of myself. It's a way of showing myself that I respect myself. 

Of course sometimes there is a deadline that I have to meet. But most of my assignments can be postponed and my clients always understands this. They just tell me to get well soon.

If I should experience clients that dosen't give a fuck about me being sick, but just want their shit to be done, I would ask them kindly to find another graphic designer to work with. I only want to work with clients that are human and in a customer relationship that foster compassion. If that is not possible, I will go back to cleaning houses for a living. 

Nameste <3

Yoga + Hönshuset by Nelli Arnth

I started doing yoga 5 years ago. In the beginning, I found it hard. Especially getting hold on all the thoughts in my head. I couldn't just "be with what is" like my yoga teacher was encouraging me to do. My mind kept going in. Standing in warrior pose thinking about how I should handle a certain task at work or what to eat for dinner. When we did Savasana (the relaxation part in the end of a yoga class) my mind fled and I was all over the place - certainly not on my yoga mat.

But through years of practicing it became better and better. My flexibility, my balance and mind slowly started working together. All of a sudden I felt like I could turn on and off my yoga mode. That when I rolled out my yoga mat on the floor, it became easier to cope with my thoughts and be aware of my body. To be with what is. 

I became very happy with yoga. Not only the fact that you were drinking delicious herbal tea before starting the class - or the fact that you had to bring a soft blanket and comfortable clothes for your practice (which is totally my style ;). No, I was happy about doing yoga because of the way it made me feel. It became my breathing space. It was unlike any kind of exercise I had tried before. 

And it felt good. Really good.

It is hard to explain. If you are a yogi too, I guess you know what I mean.

After I started my company last year I kept playing around with the idea that yoga could somehow be part of Hönshuset. Becoming a yoga teacher and maybe selling yoga related products. 

I was afraid though that it could ruin my own practice to shift the focus. But I was so drawn to this world of yoga. Eager to learn more. To dig in deeper.

So last in September 2016, I started a 60-hour yoga teacher program which I finished last weekend. So I am now a fucking yoga teacher!

Also, I started trying out different yoga forms. From Acro yoga to Jivamukti yoga. And from Arial yoga to Yin yoga. It was exciting. And all of a sudden I had made agreements with a suppliers and started selling yoga hammocks, natural scented candles and cork blocks. Now I communicate with suppliers of yoga mats and yoga clothes. 

I can't wait to see where this journey is taking me. 

My entrepreneurial journey by Nelli Arnth

One year has past since I started my life as a full-time entrepreneur. The word entrepreneur sounds really business-like to me. And for sure I have learned a lot about running a business. The first year everything is new and it takes so many hours of researching trying to understand how to do accounting, bookkeeping, invoicing, tax and VAT and so on. 

But what strikes me the most when I look back, is how much I have learned about myself. Being my own boss comes with great responsibility. Having a job you can always blame your boss, the management or the board if you are not satisfied with your work life. 

I have only myself to blame if I am not living my life exactly how I want to. It always come back to myself and if I fuck this up, I know that I have to go back to the 9-5 job which I really didn't fit into.

So I take my role of being my own boss really seriously. I know that now I have the opportunity to really live my dream. To fill my live with the things that makes me happy and to be surrounded by positive people that I love. 

I have learned how to listen to my body. Using my gut feeling and intuition as a compass for where I am going and who I am going with. It certainly sounds like a cliché, but I dosen't really give a fuck about what it sounds like. I have never felt better and more in sync with my mind and heart and that is really awesome.

I don't glorify being busy anymore. I mean - good for you if you manage to complete 300 tasks a day and if that makes you happy on the long term. But its not for me. I get 8 hours a sleep every night and I don't use an alarm clock. I strive to have at least 2-3 days a week without meetings or appointments and I try not to be so hard on myself. I forgive myself when I have days where I didn't do what I was supposed to and I make sure to cherish myself if I have a bad day. I appreciate when I get lost in reverie - that is a beautiful place to be. 

I guard and protect my happiness and my motivation. Making sure not to deal with people and tasks that drain me. When I work with a client, I make sure that we respect each other and try to build an equal and honest relationship. When in doubt I ask my gut. 

Now some of you might think: Well... That is fine for you - but do you make money? Is it possible for you to live of all that "feeling your body" bullshit?

And the answer is an clear yes. I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted me and wants to work with me. It makes me so ready for 2017 and I am excited to find out where this year takes me!

Living without an alarm clock by Nelli Arnth

Some of you have asked me how my no-alarm-clock-project turned out. I started the "experiment" in October. I stopped setting an alarm in the morning. 

At first, it felt a bit strange, which I expected since I was breaking a 15-year-old habit. But soon after I loved it. After years of counting sleeping hours and forcing myself to get up at a certain time, it is liberating not to. 

I often get asked, how many hours of sleep I get now compared to before. The funny thing is, there is almost no difference! 

So - quite fast I decided to keep living without an alarm clock. 

Hönshuset's Christmas Calender by Nelli Arnth



This December I will share with you my favorite quotes. I hope that they will move and inspire you too.

1st of December: 

Because in the end, you won't remember the time spent working in the office or moving your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. - Jack Kerouac


2nd of December: 

Don't let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big


3rd of December: 

The trouble is, you think you have time - Buddha


4th of December: 

Comparison os the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt


5th of December: 

The "what ifs" and "should haves" will eat your brain — John O Callaghan


6th of December: 

Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't have to, it's not for them.


7th of December: 

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself


8th of December: 

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will 

– Suzy Kassem


9th of December: 

Just make sure you’re happy in this life


10th of December: 

To the ones who still believe in their dreams;
Chase them. Chase them until you’re out of breath. 

Then, keep running.


11th of December: 

Travel is the only thing you can spend money on that will make you richer


12th of December: 

It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. 

There is only now.

– Hugh Laurie


13th of December: 

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it

14th of December: 

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

– Mary Anne Radmacher.


15th of December: 

If it’s both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it.

– Érada Svetlana


16th of December: 

Never dim anyone else’s light so that you can shine. Just shine.


17th of December: 

Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them


18th of December: 

The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing
you had.


19th of December: 

You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.

– Joel Osteen


20th of December: 

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try. 

– Michael Jordan


21th of December: 

Let’s stop the glorification of busy

- Guy Kawasaki


22th of December: 

People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness.


23th of December: 

If your dreams doesn’t scare you, they are not big enough


24th of December: 

You know, all that really matters is that the people around you are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae

- Paul Walker

Enjoy - and Merry Christmas!

Winter time by Nelli Arnth

Winter is really here. It is cold, and I need so much clothes to stay warm when I am outside.

But the raw nature in this area is so damn beautiful no matter what time of the year it is. The forrest stil smells amazing and the ocean is still wild and overwhelming. 

I like winter. I spend more time inside, watch more movies, listen to more audiobooks and need more sleep throughout this months. But that is okay. I feel privileged living in a country with four seasons. They each represent something different. The winter months are silent and introverted. It is a good and necessary (for me) contrast to summer time.

Every time I have been travelling in warm countries for a longer period, I have been longing for that crisp winter air. That smell of coldness. Freezing into my bones. It is part of my dna I guess.

My decision making tool by Nelli Arnth

Last weekend I did a talk at Spinnaker Nordics friday event Spin & Bobler

I was invited to talk about how I build my brand and how I combine business with my hobbies.

Also I told about the decision making tool that I developed half a year ago. I did some research on this topic and found that no existing tool really worked for me. This is obviously due to how I mix the more soft personal values in my company goal - for example I ask myself these kinds of questions before working for a client: Do this project make me happy or excited? Do I help people on a deeper level by doing this task (charity), or is it only about business? 

Of course I could not run a healthy studio (money-wise) if I wasn't concerned with making money. And I sure am (the more money I make, the more I can travel and invest in my company).

Rating all my projects and comparing them now and then gives a visuel heads-up on where I'm going and wether this month was good for my wallet or my heart - or maybe even both.

To me starting my own business is not about making money. Making money is a "sub" goal. To me it is about the proces. I am focusing way more on my proces goal, than on my destination goal. I am concerned with how it felt throughout the journey, rather than focusing on reaching a turnover of xxx.xxx DKK. I want a happy everyday life. Thats it.

All kinds of goals come with great responsibility. And when I started to loose track on my progress in the company, I became aware that I needed a tool to survey the situation.

I have refined the tool gradually, but for the last 4 months it has looked the same. So now I am ready to share it with you.

The tool consists of 6 values/parametres.
When I start a new project or get a new client I go through these questions:

  • Moneyz
    Do I make money here and now? 
  • Professional development
    Do I learn something new? (fx a new program/system, a new tool, new knowledge)
  • Network
    Do I get to meet new exciting people?
  • Branding/storytelling
    Does it help me tell my story? Is it something I can share on social media?
  • Goodwill
    Do I help somebody? Do I give something back to society? (not business - but in a charity-perspective)
  • Happiness/excitement
    Does it makes me happy? Am I excited to start the project?

This tool has helped me a lot. It keeps me balanced both business-wise and mental. 


Watch the full video of my talk here (link to Facebook):

No alarm clock, please... by Nelli Arnth

I am most definetly a b-person.

When the alarm clock goes off early in the morning, I used to snooze until it was absolutely necessary for me to get up, and get ready for another day at the office.

As a result mornings became chaotic and I never ate breakfast. It left me with some quite unhealthy habits.

But worst of all it made me hate mornings, which was such a shame. Because mornings are truly beautiful. I had this quote hanging on my fridge that said: I love the smell of possibility in the morning. 

I envied people who got up early reading the newspaper, slowly enjoying their morning coffee and reflecting on what the day would bring. I wanted to do that as well. 

But it was so hard for me when I had to be at the office at 8 am, and I didn't feel fully awake until noon.

TedxAarhus

This weekend I went to Aarhus once again - this time to to take part of the TEDxAarhus event.

One of the speakers (Camilla Kring, Founder of Super Navigators ApS) talked about how society is build for a-persons. Schools, workplaces, organizations and shops all work from 8-4. For late risers like me, that only gives me 4 hours of fully awakened working hours. 

But more importantly a lot of unhealthy side effects appear when being out of sync with your natural rhythm. Fx smoking and obesity.

Also she said a lot of other interesting b-person stuff - so check out her work here.

Anyway it left me an idea

Since I started my own business my working hours has been much more flexible. But still I set my alarm clock every morning. And still I get upset when I can't seem to concentrate from 08-11 am. 

So..

As an attempt to get back to my natural rhythm I decided to turn off my alarm clock throughout October and set my phone on Flight Mode during night. I will keep track on how many hours I sleep, and if end up around the 8 hours of sleep anyway, there is no reason to use the alarm clock ever again. 

I am quite excited about it. But also I find it hard to let go of such a fixed routine.

I will keep you updated on the project ;)

Autumn is here by Nelli Arnth

Hello September

Summer has past. That went quick. 

Now autumn is here. On a day like today where the sky is grey and constant rain is falling, it actually makes me happy. I am working from the loft listening to Gem Clubs In Roses album, and it has that perfect dark mood to it. It is so quiet and nice, and makes me really happy. Soon I will be wearing a jacket and soon the outdoor colors will transform into a beautiful orange color palette. I will be making pumpkin soup with pumpkins from my vegetable garden. 

I have so many projects in the pipeline for Hönshuset. Autumn, with it's quiet and introverted energy, is a perfect invite for long working days in the studio. I can't wait! 

Happy Autumn everyone <3

Woonder Interview by Nelli Arnth

This month I have been interviewed by the German digital design magazine WoonderZine.
Read the full interview in english here:

What does Hönshuset mean and what does it mean to you?

Oh, that’s a long story.

I’m named after my Grandma who lived in a beautiful old country house at the Danish West Coast. Last year my husband and I decided to move out of the city, and into a small apartment in Grandma’s house. Opposite the apartment was the old hen house. My Grandfather had renovated it himself, installing windows and electricity. It was cosy and a perfect fit for my new little studio. I decided to jump into it – being a full-time entrepreneur living side by side with my beloved grandma.

Therefore, it was quite a shock when she died last May. Leaving us in deep sorrow and confused about the future.

Somehow though, it gave me the strength to buy the house, quit my full-time job, move to the middle of nowhere on a freezing January day and start the studio anyway.

I considered changing the name, since I wouldn’t be working in the old henhouse (yet at least). But also I found that the story was now part of my studio-journey. And I liked it that way. There to remind me to act on my dream, to love a little harder and to not take life for granted. Not tomorrow, but today.

Your life and work is set in and focused on nature. How do you select the motives of your prints?

My head is doing a constant brainstorm. So many ideas are emerging, I try to keep track with them by writing them down – or even better I do a quick visualization of the concept or idea.

So I have this idea-database. When I have time in my calendar, I pick a project and start working on it. Sometimes the ideas work, sometimes they don’t. Either way I like the process.

 

What would you love to create that is not a print?

I have a crush on ceramics and consider to take some ceramic beginner classes someday. I miss that analogue feeling. Every part of my work had been digitalized, and when working with ceramics you literally get your hands dirty.

Which product do you use every day and why? 

My Mac.

It was love at first sight when my parents gave a toy-laptop when I was around 6. It had a small handle and I brought it with me everywhere I went. That’s still the case today – 20 years later.

What’s your favorite design piece in the world and why?

The PH5 lamp by the Danish architect Poul Henningsen.

It fascinates me when design is timeless and the functionality sublime. The lamp hung in my childhood home, and today I am lucky enough to own 3 of them. All inherited when we brought the countryside house. They are really old, but still look and works perfectly. That really says something about the quality.

 

Your business phone is ringing. You would freak out most if … calls and why.

    …it was Stefan Sagmeister inviting me to New York City to work on a project with him and Jessica. He has inspired me a lot through the years, and I got really starstruck when I saw him on stage at We love graphic design in Copenhagen.

Who are your icons? 

There are so many people out there who inspires me. They are very different, but they all have in common that they are hugely passionate about something. Those kind of people who really wears their passion. I love that!

You travel a lot. What's the most inspirational place on earth in your eyes?

New York City. That vibe. That feeling. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

 
A couple of years ago I spent 2,5 month in NYC. The first part I lived on Upper West Side and later in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It was the summer of my life.

A couple of years ago I spent 2,5 month in NYC. The first part I lived on Upper West Side and later in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It was the summer of my life.


I am most proud of … 

That’s a difficult one.

I guess it’s my willpower when I set myself a goal. In periods of my life I have lived on oatmeal and water to safe up money for my future travel adventure. During my studies I even went through the supermarkets garbage containers to collect free food. One summer we found 36 liters of wine. It was awesome.

I'm not a competitive person. I'm more introverted. I expect a lot from myself. It sounds strange, but I work really hard on living a happy life. It is my goal. To create a happy life filled with the things I love.

In the beginning I didn’t dare to say it out loud. If I told people that the long-term goal for my future company was to live a happy, creative and balanced life, they probably would have confused me with being lazy and not having the guts it takes to be self-employed. But nothing could be more wrong. It is the strongest motivation I have ever felt.
 

What keeps you busy at the moment and what are your future plans? 

The last six months I have been focusing on getting started. Building daily routines, working for clients and personal projects, building business strategies, understanding how to do accounting, how to report taxes and so on. I didn’t dare to look up, I was afraid that somebody would poke my shoulder and tell me that the holiday was over. It has taken me a while to understand that running my own studio actually goes pretty well!

So this summer has been all about making long-term plans. Where will Hönshuset be in 1, 2 and 5 years. That is a pretty awesome process! I actually do mental training 3 times a week focusing on my dreams and goals. It is a topic that I take really serious.

Slow morning routine by Nelli Arnth

Today was one of those days where one cup of coffee turned into two at the morning table. I was spellbound by my new book "Nærmere Noget" by Simon Krohn. It gives people like me (without great knowledge about Indian philosophy) an insight into the yoga philosophy. If you want to study that field as well, you should definatly buy the book right away.

Also the sun is shining and it all makes me really happy ☀️ 

Holiday or not? by Nelli Arnth

I have been asked wether or not I allow myself holiday and time off. I find the question important. Being a newly established entrepreneur the "right" question would be no. But in my case it is yes.

Of course I work a lot. Somedays I start around 9 am and finish at 2 am. Espacially the first months. I spent so many days, nights and weekends working hard to get a good start. But all along I knew that I had to find a balance.

For me it helped a lot to implement a simple project management system. It is a simple version of SCRUM which I organize on a small white-board. Organizing and planning excatly how much work I need to do every day, really helped me balancing my worklife. Now my work is more focused and efficient, and I prioritize holiday and time-off without feeling guilty. I even organize my physical and mental training in the model. And it works perfectly.

Because I think that holiday and time-off is extremely important. Espacially when running a company. At least it is for me. Some of the best ideas I've ever had came to me while travelling, exploring nature, relaxing or in other way getting away from my office.

In other words: If you don't make time for these small getaways, you will miss the best and most creative ideas.

So get offline. Get outside. Smell the fresh air and breath in some new ideas. Then get back to your computer and work your ass off.

Møn roadtrip by Nelli Arnth

Today Maria and I drove around the island of Møn. We had no specific plan - but chose the direction spontaneously and based on advice from the local people we met.

We started having newly brewed coffee at a local summer cafe in Hårbølle. We asked the owners where we should go from there. Every time we saw a handmade sign saying "ceramist" or "galley" we went for it. When you don't expect anything, you always get overwhelmed by the beauty and kindness you meet. I love exploring new places this way. 

AirBnB + Yoganamnam by Nelli Arnth

Making breakfast on an sunny morning

Making breakfast on an sunny morning

Our AirBnB host on Møn lives in a lovely old country house. From here she runs a yoga studio (Yoganamnam). The atmosphere and style is quite amazing. I find great adventure and pleasure in staying with locals and exploring their beautiful homes and lifestyles. That is why I always choose a AirBnB host over a hotel stay 🏡

If you ever go to Møn you should consider staying at Vibe place

Business is done best with your bestie by Nelli Arnth

I guess the headline says it all. 

We returned from a great day at the We Do Craft design and art market in Stege. Being on a market like this gives you the opportunity to talk directly with the end consumer. This helps me a lot when designing and choosing new prints.

Also I find great inspiration in talking with all the designers and artists. We all have different takes on how to run our business, and I learn so many valuable new thing by talking and listening to their stories. 

Møn - and some thoughts about how far I've come by Nelli Arnth

We have arrived to Møn and the nature here is stunning. We spent the afternoon exploring Møns Klint, took a yoga class and drank some wine while the sun went down.

Tomorrow I will we joining the We Do Craft art and design market in Stege.

So far - this is a perfect workaway. It really warms my heart and soul to think about how far I have come. When saying this, I don't mean money-wise or hard-core business-wise. Not to say that I don't make money - because I do. But my main purpose about running my own business is to live a free, creative and happy life. To wake up every day (not only Saturday and Sunday) and be satisfied with my life. 

I don't want to live for Fridays and holidays. I want to live everyday

I want to do roadtrips to Møn with my best friend on a sunny monday. That is what I do right now.

- And it makes me so damn happy.

Our second wedding-photoshoot by Nelli Arnth

Camilla Jorvad + Nelli Arnth .jpg

I love meeting and working with talented and inspiring people. 

For a couple of weeks ago my husband and I had the pleasure of helping wedding photographer Camilla Jørvad with a photoshoot. It was quite fantastic to get in my moms wedding dress again pretending to be newlyweds. 

This is one of the final pictures from the shoot, and I can't wait to show you the rest.

Time-off by Nelli Arnth

Books and coffee = Holiday ☕️📚

Yesterday I checked into a beautiful old beach hotel on the Danish west coast. Ahead lies a week of relaxation with my nearest family. I find it important to prioritize days off to relax and reflect especially as an entrepreneur. In that state of contemplation I allow myself time to think a little deeper. To reflect on where I'm going both personally and business-wise. 

‪#‎beachhotel‬ ‪#‎contemplation‬ ‪#‎wabisabi‬ ‪#‎leonardkoren‬ ‪#‎booksandcoffee‬‪ #‎timeoff‬ ‪#‎slowliving‬ ‪#‎simpleliving‬ ‪#‎slowdown‬ ‪#‎livingslow‬ ‪#‎bobnoon ‬‪#‎betinahelles‬

Hönshuset goes to møn by Nelli Arnth

You don’t always have to travel the world to cure your wanderlust. Sometimes a good old-fashioned roadtrip with your best friend (www.mariaernst.dk) is more than enough.

In two weeks time I will cross Denmark to visit the beautiful danish island Møn.

Besides attending the We Do Craft Marked there will be plenty of time to hike, explore, photograph and do yoga.

This is the perfect work-away!