Solgave -The Birth, the Growth, and the Future of the Dream…
It was probably the first two weeks of our time in Norway when it became clear I was likely not going to leave. Saying that I was a man with a bag of clothes and a pocket full of dreams has almost become cliché, but it’s the truth…
If I stayed in Norway after this two-week holiday, it meant risking a lot. I had a potential job lined up, a car back home that I would ultimately have to sell, things still in storage in two states, and savings that would run out after a couple of months.
So as we talked for hours and hours without an awkward moment during that first week together on the canal, we began to slowly talk about what might define our future, our dreams, and us.
One morning we, likely driven by a brief bit of panic, said “If I’m going to stay, let’s create something man, let’s start this dream now.”
The majestic landscape of Norway and Sweden during the beautiful snowy months provided sunrise hikes to the lookout point, lengthy walks with the pack of dogs in the dark (in the winter you only have 6 hours of daylight), which was transforming my soul day by day.
With only a month of being together outside of Skype and Facebook (real world), but souls with years, if not decades (or lifetimes) of time together, we wrote out on the kitchen table words that would define this business we started to envision. How can we create something, and create something fast, and what does it look, feel, and taste like?
Start with words I said. A French Press of coffee and tablets of paper, we brainstormed on that kitchen table downstairs during a morning that we will never forget.
SYNERGY, TRANSFORMATION, ANIMALS, HEALING, GROWTH, FACING FEARS, CHANGE, NATURE were some of the standout words.
As a brand guy, a team builder, a retail operations specialist, the art guy in the business world whose understanding of people helped really connect “vision and culture” to sales within a few unique companies and as one, who if I can use an NFL quarterback metaphor, is finally at the place in my life where I am finally about to peak, about to give everything I have with my heart and soul to the next project I am taking on.
The first half of my life this dreamer, dreamed a lot, leaving most of those ideas on notebooks without action to see them through. Or I used all my energy with other companies whose vision tied so close to my soul I could see it as my own. Not being mature enough to see into the future, along with my purpose for living not aligning yet with my abilities, led me to never finding the level of success I would one day be ready for.
Today I am.
I knew I was approaching my peak, or my full potentiality, as 2011 was ending. I realized at that time, that whatever company I worked for, partnered with, or could create on my own, would get everything I had.
Back to the kitchen table that morning. I could see in Sunniva’s eyes that she had dabbled with trying to figure out how to make her dream of working with animals come true. A few attempts here and there that failed to push her into it being a full time job for a variety of reasons. That’s her story to tell, but I think she’s safely said it was never the right time, never “her” idea fully, never in her gut felt it was the right thing. Now with the union of our soul connection and a blending of our talents it became clear at that table that something special was brewing.
“What does Sunniva mean?” I asked. “ The root of it?”
“Solgave, gift from the sun,” she answered.
“SOLGAVE!” I remember pausing at the sink with a deep look and a smile. I remember the moment it was said, and seeing the logo in my head instantly appears. “THAT’S IT! Solgave is it Sunniva!” I screamed with excitement.
What was important to me is not to box ourselves in, but to have a name that felt like it symbolized what we wanted to do, but most importantly because we could have full control over the culture that it would define.
Not many around the world would know what Solgave meant, but it’s a name with power, with curiosity, with an open road in regards to patent and branding, with it being so unique. It would allow us to think global, to think slowly and meticulously on what the name should and would symbolize. It took a bit of twisting her arm because Solgave stems from her name, and she didn’t want this to be about her. With a little dialogue between us I persuaded her to go along with it.
What it can mean to people when they hear the word is both important and powerful. We want it to symbolize those things we wrote down on paper that morning. Healing, nature, animals, love, connection, synergy. “Solgave” I said with a smile. “This dream now has a name.”
Without much thought, we took off like race horses out of the starting gates…”What if we could put two cabins in the woods? I could rent those out to Americans for sure!” I said.
I had done a lot of research on farm vacations and tried to think of how to use this farm to create Solgave. Initially the domain I bought was solgavefarm.com and our first Facebook page was Solgave Farm. We made dozens of phone calls to local Kommunes, got our first visit home girl as a couple, and with things like nature deficit order, animal assisted therapy, outdoor classrooms, and with a working model of a farm in Sarpsborg doing these very things, I thought this thing might fly.
If we could get a contract with Stromstad to provide some alternative learning and outdoor classroom experiences, use our horses, hope to build two cabins in 2013 maybe, just maybe this could work.
I bought my first WordPress Theme and began like a madman working on PDF posters to send as links to emails for prospective Kommunes, and the website work began. We hit a major roadblock just as we were getting fired up and had to readdress EVERYTHING. The sails on our ship just needed retooling.
The beauty of how Sunniva and I work, is that this ended up not being a barrier, but rather a chance to take a deep breath, and a pull back on the solgavefarm.com site I was about to launch that would market cabins to come, riding lessons she could do now, and ideas about outdoor education and shift the ship a bit.
Nature, animals, healing, synergy…all defined, right? Something wasn’t right. Something was missing. So we said “Stop and breathe,” so that we did.
Two weeks later we realized we were not 100% sure where we would be in a year and the business farm model needed to be broadened. Like a magician waving his wand, we took a subtle shift and changed the Facebook page to Solgave (removed farm) and wanted to let it become a personal brand/company that would plant seeds early in the game with a very organic fashion to see how it SHOULD take hold without us forcing things. We had to go back to the lessons we learned on that narrow boat. Trust, flow like water, let Source guide us. And so we did….
Through some writing I had done via a process I started in a cabin on the lake back in the Midwest before leaving and continued up until recently, we had a collection of writings called “Lessons from Abroad.” Sunniva herself had written some profound pieces over the last several months so the idea of sharing our writings became more than just an idea.
Okay, let’s so let’s wipe our slate clean, keep the key words – the same that defined who we are – we had talked tirelessly about it for weeks, what could be next. www.solgave.com would be a home for our photos, stories, and a potential place to expand into ideas we had brewing on a larger scale.
After looking at hundreds of themes and visualizing how our site should look and feel to the world, during a dark couple of weeks for my wife where she needed to withdraw from the world, she worked like a computer programmer on Red Bull designing our site, and in 7 days we came away with a very polished, exciting brand to give birth too very soon.
We quickly created categories that blended us both. Animal Perspective, a place where she could write about, and hopefully soon, interact with customers with her animal “seeing” abilities. Soulmate Experience would be a place for us to share what it’s like to live with a true soul mate who mirrors all aspects of you, those that most run from, or never have to face in this life because the dark nooks and crannies stay nooks and crannies by most out of fear for what you might find, until you see them from an outside perspective. An easy path it’s not, but the rewards and growth is equally intense. We’ve been told by some friends we lost along the way they don’t understand our “work” our “struggling” through issues, but soul mates and many others I believe get this and we knew beyond Facebook many couples out there could connect (letters helped inspire us) with how hard it can be when you are in a place of your life where healing, growing, and change is immense. Like body building, training for an Ironman race, you have to break things down to build them back stronger. We were ready for this and the experiences so powerful, sometimes too much so, but again, we must have been ready or this divine providence union would not have happened. And finally, “Everyday” would be a category for just our everyday writing and photos on any range of topics.
So with four categories and a collection of a few thousand photos, we launched our site just one month ago. While it’s still so young, and will continue to evolve, we feel it has become the early stages of what we want it to be.
We spent a week creating our logo, and while a simple one, we believe it also represents the quality and ideas that drive Solgave. Initial questions you ask yourself when creating a logo are; how does it look? What font? What colors? What kind of intent do we want to come across?
Simple, clean, and a global appeal were things we needed our logo to represent. Never underestimate the power of your logo, especially with a national and global vision. Yes, it’s the first one and will change I suspect over time, but we are proud of Solgave’s first logo – we see it on t shirts, we see our business cards, signage, and that’s just a cool feeling.
Now, how and what do we create as the first brick and mortar business. You can’t wait for that editor or travel magazine writer to call you and say “We’d love to see your family travel around the world and to have you share your experiences for us” (Yes, one idea on our vision board is to email or write every travel magazine/website with this idea we hold true to throwing 100 darts without fear and believing something cool will stick) but with that said, we are honed in like a Jedi training on our first real business.
“Sunniva, I can build a business around you”, I said. What my dream is …it’s really to create. It’s to build a culture. It’s to develop the people. To see something organically take shape that has meaning. It’s to be part of something big. And I understand today at this point in my career, and life it’s about steps, one at a time, with commitment, that anything is possible.
“Horses, dogs? You tell me,” I asked her.
While changing lives one experience at a time, can and is the broader vision, our dream will come to fruition in phases but WE MUST START with what we have today and are really good at.
Sunniva has a hard time relating to humans, but animals, my god, she is a pack leader. She hears their thoughts. While I am one hear the thoughts and consciousness of humans as a psychology guy. Just about a month ago is when it clicked for us just how powerful the blending of these two could be for us.
Solgave Animal Solutions. Yep, I see it on our car; I see the first ribbon cutting at a chamber meeting with the newspaper photo in the local paper next year, I see and believe it to be something powerful, something with great potential. Her skills are not seen as marketable in this part of the world as they are in America. Through a variety of reasons the decision of relocating was made (after months of thought and work and trial and error) to take something we know in our hearts we can succeed at and grow from there.
Dog psychology is a growing field, and sort of new term. What most good dog psychologists/dog whisperers/dog behaviorists lack is the other half. They are so tuned into animals they miss they tend to miss the human side, and this is where our belief is so strong, that this blend can be so “right.”
While I’ll have a BS in Psychology and 14 years work experience in business operations, credentials is less important to us than a deep rooted desire to finally take a company of our own, a brand we have given birth to, and start laying bricks.
I’ve done market research on the few people like her in that pocket of the country we’ll reside in (Ozark Mountains/Northwest Arkansas/four state area) and there aren’t many. We will start by walking dogs and doing pet sitting as our core business as we get the name out there as the “Go To” place for all your Animal Solutions! (theoretically)
We’ll be hitting every Chamber in cities we can serve as well as being active in charity organizations tied to our heart. Sunniva would love to volunteer a lot at dog shelters, where we hope in just a few hours a week of donated time she can both change lives and potentially save some dog’s lives because of her love of working with what Cesar Millan calls the “red zone” dogs that others are afraid of, or have difficulty working with/reaching.
We’ll be knocking on doors, we’ll be attending every farmer’s market in the area to meet and greet people, visiting other business owners to exchange business cards, shake hands and most importantly, make connections. We’ll be developing another website soon mirrored off our main brand Solgave (soon to be Solgave LLC to house more ideas for future) and through it all we are going to stay humble, driven, and as Steve Jobs suggested “hungry and foolish.”
Solgave Animal Solutions is a branch on the tree of Solgave, and an exciting one, because as a market research guy and one who understands consumer consciousness and what it takes to build a small business in the US, we have a lot on our side. You’ll see us active at Gabi’s school, organize dog walks, visible at dog parks, anywhere and everywhere we can show up and help get the word out…. we’ll be there year one.
I told her in the car yesterday that the first phase of fun ends when we get so busy we need our first employee or two, and then struggle becomes how do we handle being this busy….
I love to use the metaphor of Jim Carrey writing himself a 5 million dollar check, as a young and struggling comedian, because he “believed” and “saw” something in himself that would eventually be noticed by others through his hard work, passion, and natural gifts. We haven’t written a check per se like Jim did, because it’s not about a money figure that means we’ve made it big, but we have some scribbled down dreams on paper and dated so that IF, ONE DAY, they come true we can share just how long we have been thinking about it.
Yep, Solgave is still a brand in motion but for the first time in both of our lives we are building a company of our own, that embodies the things we cherish most about life and begin with Solgave Animal Solutions, which will launch officially in about a year (or less) as we use these months to plan, finish my bachelor’s online, work out logistics here, and keep taking steps.
Do I see Solgave Animal Solutions as something everyone in that four state area knows? You better believe it. Do I think we are going to have to work hard, be passionate, driven, and willing to make some mistakes? Yep.
When I realized this blend of my human psychology and business background with her “gift” with animals (dogs in this case) could create something that would not just work, but succeed potentially on a big level, I needed to see in the depths of her eyes if she was ready.
“Yes Jared I am,” she said. “Then prepare to give this all we’ve got,” I said with passion, “and know that with a dream like this, our late nights, our phone calls to prospective clients, our drive to push ourselves and this vision isn’t going to ever feel like work, and that’s just how dreams like this come to be. “
Solgave is a philosophy of life. A brand in early stages of development that is based on those few words we wrote down in the kitchen after my second week here. Synergy, Animals, Healing, Nature, Growth, Change, Relationships.
We may have a website that leads to cool projects between now and then that create more dreams or maybe we don’t, but we still keep trying. I’d love to write about peoples lives, things that matter to me. I’d love to consult. I have dreams of an apparel company downt he road with Solgave.
She’d love to have a huge chunk of land where we rescue dogs and horses and use those animals to help people in direct ways. In due time, in due time I remind her.
We can’t and won’t lose sight of our first two years, but we see a 5-year vision as well, and already spend a little time thinking about how we are going to get there.
2013 is about continuing the evolution of our life, and our website as we launch a real business, with tremendous potential to not just walk dogs, work on dog behavior issues, dog training, but usually these cases are about changing the owners, realizing it’s them as the mirror effecting these animals.
Yep, as Sunniva said most animal communicator types are so tuned to animals they lack human skills, so here we meet, here we blend, and here we go…
Several meetings with people and brainstorming sessions have already happened, tons of my market research the last three months is now organized and compiled, and more than that, most importantly, you have a young married couple with a hunger and heart beat so deep for this dream, souls filled with both passion and a deep balance of realistic ideas of how our first two years will look, what it requires, and the discipline of actually seeing this thing through. We don’t just hope it’ll be an arm of Solgave that finds success, we believe it will be.
From there, it’s a chapter we just have not written yet in the story book that is our life…Solgave.