Spotlight on Patinatur
I first came across Trine Mandal Mortensen, on Instagram and fell immediately in love with her stunning photography. You all know that I just can't resist a good piece of art and her pictures are simply beautiful, based on nature around her. Moreover, she uses her art to make cushions, which you can see pictures of both in my home below.
My name is Trine Mandal Mortensen. I’m 42 and have a M.A. in English and Film studies and am also trained as a screenwriter. I have been photographing, designing and sewing since I was 14, but never pursued my creative passions professionally until last year. Now I’ll never be able to go back…
I live just outside Silkeborg in Denmark, surrounded by the most beautiful nature, which is my main source of inspiration. That and all my thrift treasures.
Besides Patinatur, I also sell licenses to my photographs.
You can find out about Patinatur and buy products through the button below.
In my workshop in our old garage, which overlooks the woods outside Silkeborg, Denmark, I design and make handmade pillows and accessories. I'm inspired by patina and nature (hence the name) and my products have a rustic and natural feel. All materials have been carefully selected, and only materials that are both eco-friendly, sustainable and of high quality make the cut. That also goes for my photographs.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur, because I wanted to create my own job. I’ve found it really difficult to fit into any boxes on the job market, so I created a job that fits me perfectly.
Patinatur is actually my second attempt at starting my own business. At first Patinatur was meant to be a side project. I have photographed since I was 14 and had recently started to experiment with creative lenses and macro lenses. I had also recently developed a garden obsession. So, I thought I would combine the two. I wanted to take photos for garden owners of their own gardens and make bespoke products for them based on the photos. I took a bunch of photos as examples. I showed them to a friend and she convinced me that I should sell them as art. In addition to selling prints, I also wanted to make products with the photos and decided to make photo printed cushions. As a consumer, I’ve often been frustrated that most manufacturers base their choices on profit, rather than quality and eco-consciousness. Now I was in a position where I was calling all the shots. I decided to choose the best and greenest option at all times.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
We had rebuilt the old garage when I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It’s small and functions as workshop/office/showroom/storage, but I can see the forest from my workspace, the commute is zero minutes, I can work in my pyjamas if I want and the music is always my favourite. I love it!
3. How did you fund your business?
I inherited some money, not a lot, but it bought me time to focus on starting up full time. That was a game changer for me. My first attempt at starting a business on top of a job/searching for a job and having two small children, without having any business experience meant I had previously kept hitting ground. But this time I could focus and dive into it. And then it took off. I’m still waiting for the millions to start rolling, but until then my husband is my investor.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Having to do everything myself. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to take care of the things I didn’t know how to do. I had to learn (still have many things to learn) everything myself. That takes a lot of time and stops me from moving forward as fast as I would like.
5. What help was missing for you?
Somewhere where start-ups could trade favours, so that you could get help with the things you don’t know how to do in return for helping others with the things you’re good at. That way you could outsource to experts without having to pay for it.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I’m still very new in the game; only had the first vague idea last summer. But I have wasted an awful lot of time building my own website. After more hours, days and weeks than I can bear to think about, I discovered that it was impossible to make it work properly on mobile. There were also other issues with it, so now I’m starting from scratch on another platform. So much wasted time, where I could have done other things that would have brought me forward. Had I had money to hire someone to make a website for me, I could have avoided that. But that was not an option for me.
7. What have you learnt?
I have learned to dare to put myself on the line and believe that others will be interested. I have photographed and designed for more than 25 years, always dreamt of doing it for a living, but never believed that it was possible and never shown my work to anyone besides family and close friends. Presenting my work for judgement has been nerve-racking for me, but the response has been positive and this past year has been a wonderful journey. Now I believe that I have something to offer and grab every business opportunity I meet.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Your business has to be centred around something that really matters to you. It’s so all-consuming and there will be many things that will be both difficult and not very interesting, that for the total experience to be worth it, you have to really love it.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I love that finally my inner life and my outer life correspond. I no longer have to fake that I find my job interesting. I find it so interesting that I often forget to go to sleep.
I also love that I can spend time with my children in the afternoon, and that when they’re sick, we simply drag a mattress into the workshop and the problem is solved.
As a photographer I also love that now I’m able to photograph every time the light is great.
Nicola says "It’s a theme that keeps on running throughout this blog, but having a passion for what you are doing is clearly very important to starting up your own business as Trine mentions here. It allows the business to be all consuming but also okay because you believe in what you are doing. Flexibility around childcare is what drives a lot of people to start out for themselves but also having time, the right time, to get started properly. Here Trine mentions having a go at a start-up before but having too many balls in the air to juggle, until she inherited some money to give her breathing space to get going again."
I love the mix of art and the outdoors here, thanks so much for sharing your journey with me, Trine.
The Girl with The Green Sofa