Sanne Brännström – The Dolly Parton of the forest

Some time ago, we found this quite mysterious and wild creature on Instagram, going under the alias "Warginna". Diving into this woman's account, we were spellbound. It was a bit like stepping into a red hot fairytale from the ice-cold north (which didn't really make sense, but somehow still did, you know?). Yep, we were stunned. We couldn't stop scrolling. And we knew right away she was someone we couldn't let go of. 

Sanne is wearing the Camel Minna Wool Fleece  and Camel Astrid Avant-Garde Outdoor Pants.

For those of you who never experienced your colorful feed on Instagram, who are you and how would you describe your vibe?

My name is Sanne Brännström, but my alter-ego and own company is called
Warginna (meaning she-wolf in Swedish). I describe myself as “The Dolly Parton of the forest”, which is a fun way to symbolize my very contrasty life. I am a
photographer, digital designer, vintage lover & influencer. I also run a nature-loving
marketing & communication agency, Re-Wild Creative Studio together with my best friend Therese.

My fiancé is an ice-hockey player so me and him and our two adventure dogs are
living what we call a vagabond life. Half of the year we live wherever his job takes
us, and the rest of the year we live in our countryside home in a small village with
only two habitants, in the woods of Torne Valley. So I kind of get the best of both
worlds right now, always curious where the road takes us next.

How did you come up with the nickname Warginna?

When I started to realize that I wanted to work with both photography & Instagram, I began to benchmark how other photographers branded themselves. Many photographers use their first name + last name + photography as their brand name, and there’s nothing wrong with that! BUT I came to the conclusion that I had a hard time remembering their names. I wanted to stand out, and Sanne Brännström is just… too basic, haha. And as a matter of fact, people always tend to get my first name wrong (Apparently Sann-E is too hard for people to say. I’ve been called Sanna, Sandra, Saane, Saana too many times haha). SO I wanted to come up with a name that represented me as a person and creator. My connection to, and love for nature, the fact that I’m a woman and have to be unapologetic to make my way in this patriarchy.

How did I come up with Warginna? That’s actually a funny story! I bought a vintage fleece sweater with a sled dog print on a Swedish auction site. The seller was an older lady with the nickname “Varginnan”. And that is actually where I got it from. So I started to play with different forms of the word and chose to go with Warginna. It was everything I had been searching for, I knew it right away. I googled the name everywhere to see if somebody else branded themselves with it with no results, so I changed my account name to Warginna and the rest is history…

How did growing up in Tornedalen (an area in Northern Sweden and Finland)
shape you?

Growing up in Tornedalen (Torne Valley) has impacted me in every possible way, I
think. I’m part of a minority, with its own language (meänkieli) and traditions. I went to school in Finland twice a week as a kid. I grew up with the forest literally out my backyard, in a small village with only 150 habitants. With the midnight sun shining all night during summer and the mosquitoes biting hard, with long cold winters and northern lights above my childhood home. With distances that people in the city never have to worry about in the same way. The way of living far up north has its challenges, it truly is a lifestyle. I don’t think I would be the same person if I hadn’t grown up there.

How would you describe your relationship to nature and how has that changed over the years?

Nature has been in my ID since I was a child. Back then, I never questioned it or
thought of it as a hobby to be outdoors, it has been my truth and way of living since then. My family has always been outdoors, no matter the season. I have been out fishing and hunting with my father since I was a kiddo, picking berries, walking the dogs in all weathers and hiking and sporting with my mom. I had the luxury to grow up in a house right in front of a forest, so it naturally became my playground. I drew maps of it and took all my friends there. When we played hide and seek I always won since I knew every little corner of it.

Moving to different cities when I graduated from high school, made me realize how deeply rooted nature is in me. It has led my way through many things in life. It made me want to study nature tourism, it made me love second hand & vintage even more, it has made me want to live a more sustainable life, to learn about edible plants, flowers and mushrooms in the forest and inspire others to learn more about them too. Me and my colleague Therese started Re-Wild to work with companies who share our values and love for nature, and we’re also holding courses in wild food from nature. So, I guess you can say that mother nature has been my guiding star all my life.

We love how you lower the barrier for people to go outdoors, by sharing tons
of great outdoor tips for beginners - do you have any tips on how to continue
going outdoors when the temperature drops?

Yes, and the answer is: never underestimate mama nature. Dress in layers and
choose quality clothes over quantity clothes, especially if you are going out on an
adventure. You don’t want to freeze, it will ruin the experience. Also, wool is always a good idea.

Do you have a life motto and how is that manifested in your daily life?

I really love the Chris McCandless quote “If you want something in this life, reach out and grab it”. One thing I really like about myself is that I’m quite a prestigeless
person. I go for what I want, I search for ways to get it and I’m not afraid to ask. You never know if you never try, and you never know what answer you’ll get if you never ask. I don’t want a life with regrets of things I was too afraid to do, life’s too short for that shit!

How do you like the Minna Wool Fleece Jacket?

I love it! It’s like a warm hug. I often wear mine as a jacket, with layers underneath it. When it’s really cold outside I wear it with a poncho on top of it, but I also wear it at home and in meetings. It’s both comfy and gorgeous!

Last thing, you have such a unique outdoor style. From where do you get inspiration?

I really don’t think that your outdoor style has to be boring. My regular style is
inspired by the ‘70s, western fashion and the music I listen to. I like to bring elements of that into my outdoor style as well. I’m not saying that it’s important to look good when you're outdoors, hell no, quite the opposite, but what I’m saying is that when I’m investing in outdoor clothes, I choose colors I like and garments I feel comfortable in. And I sometimes bring a hat because I like hats and it’s quite practical. Some people get provoked if I wear “stylish” outdoor clothes, though. Like a wool poncho and a hat in the forest. It’s the same old cliché you know, criticizing women for what they look like whatever they do and however they look, ZzZzz. I’ve been outdoors my whole life and I'm pretty sure I can decide for myself what to wear or not to wear regarding the situation. I’m not playing dress up, I’m just being me!

Wow. Thank you Sanne for having this chat with us. Make sure to follow her colorful account for daily wild inspiration, and don't forget to dive into our full Wild Women blog if you enjoyed this post! 

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