Tove Westling worked for the likes of Louis Vuitton, DAY Birger et Mikkelsen and Topshop before setting up her own PR agency, Varg PR, championing designers from Sweden and Denmark. Here, we chat to her about being your own boss, the brands she thinks we NEED to know and Bob the dog.
Describe your typical working day.
I walk my dog, Bob, to work in pretty much all weathers, a walk that clears my head and gets me ready for the day. If I have a breakfast meeting I head out as soon as I have dropped Bob off at the office, if not I chain myself to the desk until lunch time – replying to emails as well as going through my religiously highlighted to-do list. I normally have a few meetings with press or clients spread out across the day. I normally leave the office between 7pm and 9pm, when I either go home to chill (code for working a bit more) or stay out and meet friends for dinner. As many of our clients are Swedish, I normally work from my hometown, Stockholm, a few days a month.
What do you love most about your job?
I love building brands, setting strategies and seeing them falling into place. On a day-to-day basis, I love working with people who share our vision and people who give me energy.
What advice would you give someone setting up their own business?
Be sure to have a clear business plan, this will keep you on the right track if you ever feel a bit lost or unclear on what path to follow. Also, make sure to have fun and make space for your own life.
Have you had any setbacks along the way?
Yes, I don’t think you can go through life or business without them. My biggest and most obvious set back was when my business partner, at an early stage of the business, wasn’t able to keep working full time and I was left running the business on my own rather than as a team. That was very tough, however it was all for the best in the end as I learned a lot and couldn’t be happier with the way my business is looking now that we are just about to turn five.
Who’s your role model?
My dad, who is a brilliant businessman, has helped me a lot – especially since setting up Varg. We don’t always agree, but I admire him and trust him enough to ask for his advice before taking any major decisions.
What are your workwear wardrobe staples?
My wardrobe pretty much consists of all the brands I look after. I love Swedish Hasbeens shoes, 2nd DAY skinny jeans, BACK sweaters for a fun twist, Filippa K staple knits and Maria Nilsdotter’s gothic but pretty jewellery layered on all fingers. And, I never leave the house without my Sophie Hulme cross-body bag.
How do you unwind after a tough day at work?
I go home for a cuddle with Bob the dog on the sofa, bag of Percy Pigs in hand and an episode of New Girl or Downton Abbey on the laptop – always works.
We’re always obsessing over our work/life balance – how do you manage it?
I’m working on it. During times in my life when I have been working non-stop, I sometimes lost the fun and pleasure in the little things. Then it’s all a bit pointless in the end, if you lose what makes you happy. I now work an average of 10-12 hours per day, which is a healthy level for me at this point in life – and I no longer fill my entire weekends with work unless we have an event on.
Tell us your five-year goal.
I want to keep exploring new areas and am not scared of straying a bit from the beaten path, so we have some exciting collaborations coming up. I want Varg to be a frontrunner, so we will keep expanding our list of services as we go.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mum always tells me that nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes a little bit longer to achieve.
Looking for more career inspo? It’s not too late to book tickets for Marie Claire’s @ Work Live,
in association with Cointreau and Next. A one-day event on 23 April
2016, featuring advice, tips and inspiration from incredible speakers.