Turning your passion into a business - with Tumla founder Josefin Alvtegen
Remember Josefin Alvtegen, the surfer and adventurer living in her van? A lot of exciting things have happened since last time we spoke to her, including starting her own sustainable swim- and surf wear brand Tumla. We decided to have a catch-up with this ambitious lady!
Hi Josefin - last time we spoke you were living your best van life in Northern Norway (read more about it here) and the pandemic was in full swing. Tell us about what happened after Lofoten and Norway. You drove south..?
Yes, exactly. The pandemic had calmed down and Europe opened up, so we could finally set our sights on Europe and our second home, Biarritz. We left Sweden in the middle of August and drove straight down to Galicia where we spent a few weeks with magical surf and beautiful sunsets from the motorhome. Galicia is truly the dream for motorhome living. After a few weeks in Galicia, we drove north to spend the rest of the trip in Biarritz. We surfed, hung out with incredible people, and worked on the last things before the launch of our new brand Tumla. It was a real dream life, but believe it or not, we got restless without routines and must-haves, so at the beginning of November, we started driving home. I had taken leave for a year and was due to start work again in December, which I was looking forward to.
Josefine in our Minna Minimalist Fleece Jacket in navy, she wears size M.
So cool that in addition to surfing and discovering Europe, you also managed to start your own company during your year on the road. How did Tumla come to you? What does Tumla stand for and what do you want to achieve?
Tumla is a dream my boyfriend and I have had for a long time. I have always had difficulty finding good swimwear that is both functional and stylish. It's so frustrating to have to search for women's gear that isn't pink or colorful and floral.
We hope we can inspire other women to spend more time in the sea, with confidence and pride. Therefore, we want to develop products that have meaning. Not only with function and quality, but also a meaning where we can, through our products, help drive the development of sustainable materials and a sustainable industry forward.
Spontaneously, it feels difficult to start a company on the go, but you managed really well, how did you do it?
Both yes and no! In Europe, there is free internet and we used to sit at cafes and restaurants with our computers to get power. We didn't have another job either, so we had an incredible amount of time, which was an advantage when starting a business. So we worked a little from time to time when it was convenient, but at the same time making sure that it didn't take over the trip, because we didn't take time off to work, but rather to be free and explore with our camper
You are surfers and run a surf school in Halmstad and now this, how awesome you are at creating businesses around your passion! Do you have any tips on how to combine your hobby with work?
It's sometimes a difficult combo, it's super fun in the beginning, but suddenly your whole hobby becomes a job, which I think can be difficult because sometimes it takes away the joy of the hobby. So we try to be careful that the work is not allowed to take over. For example, we never hold surfing lessons when the surf is good, because then we want to surf ourselves.
Now we run Tumla and our surf school Namasea alongside our 100% full-time jobs, which is incredibly challenging, especially when you're building a house at the same time. But we constantly remind ourselves not to put too much pressure on ourselves and just try to do everything at a pace that suits us.
Josefine in our Minna Wool Fleece Jacket in Black.
What is it like running a business with your boyfriend?
For us, it works very well. Of course, it's hard sometimes, just like everything in life, but we've learned how to function and support each other in everything. You also have to work hard on accepting that we work in different ways and dividing up areas of responsibility so that both of us can grow and work on what we are passionate about.
What are your best tips for those who want to start a business out of their passion?
Not to overthink. And don't wait too long either, because then you realize that it's too difficult, there's no time, it's not the right time now etc, etc... Try it, and if it doesn't work, it was a good experience with lots of new knowledge. Then one thing that I think is the secret for me is that I never set the bar too high in the beginning because then it's easy to become unmotivated and overwhelmed. Starting and running your own business is really hard at certain times, but that's how it is with everything. The reward is worth it. So just go for it!
What is your dream with Tumla?
The dream with Tumla is for it to grow and take up more space in the market, we really need more companies that focus on women and sustainability. Then we want to develop new products and offer more sizes and colors in all our products, it will be magical! We have big dreams with Tumla and have new products in the works, so stay tuned!
How do you like your Minna Minimalist Jacket?
It’s my favorite garment for all activities, all year round. Astrid Wild's products are just like Tumla's, feminine but stylish products. I love it! It is so easy to match, Minna is both functional and stylish.
Josefine in our Minna Minimalist Fleece Jacket in navy, in size M.
What are you looking forward to in 2023?
On a personal note, I'm looking forward to moving into our new house. It will be incredibly nice to have our base to start from and finally have room for all our stuff.
As for Tumla, there is so much I'm looking forward to, we have many fun events planned and cool photo shoots going on. Above all, I'm looking forward to inventing fun things with Astrid Wild x Tumla, DON'T miss this!
Jeez, such an inspiring lady! Thank you Josefin for the chat. Be sure to check out her sustainable swimwear brand Tumla. Curious about more businesswomen and digital nomads? Be sure to check out this article about another entrepreneur and van lifer.