It’s been almost four years now since I got what I had long been working for. At the time I was in Brazil getting ready to export furniture and art made of recycled tropical hardwoods and other recycled material to build a business built on the principle of a “triple bottom line”, in other words, a business taking into consideration the social, environmental, and financial results of an enterprise. As a consultant talking to business about the importance of a more holistic view in business and personal development I wanted to “walk the talk”.
The container arrived in Sweden some six months later, and together with a business partner we opened an art gallery and showroom in Stockholm. It started out well enough, but for various reasons we didn’t make the sales we expected and the business eventually became a burden. We closed the gallery (sales continued to pay the rent thanks to a telephone number on the window). A year later a choice had to be made; what to do? The best pieces had been sold, and many of the tables that remained had Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through. Firewood or fire sale?
Kathrin and I had in the meantime moved to an island north of the city and we needed a base closer to town, clients had often commented on the nice atmosphere in the gallery, and the rent for the gallery in the suburb was reasonable. We bought the stock and opened a café.
Now four years after that trip to Brazil, I sit at my desk, with Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through. We run the Open World Café & Gallery, a Business Lounge where I sometimes facilitate workshops on sustainability and leadership, where Kathrin has her Aromatherapy workshops and where we serve a wicked organic sandwich on home baked spelt wheat bread, homemade soups with locally grown produce, and recently pies with the chantarelle mushrooms we pick in the forest on the weekends on the island.
I can’t say that we’ve got the perfect mix yet that meets the triple bottom line criteria; there’s a high quotient on the social and environmental results; a lower carbon footprint and very happy customers, but the financials are illusive. Without the diversity of products and services however, we would not have had a chance.
We still sell some art and a table or two now and again, the old weathered (and now cracked) wood tables are especially popular, but I don’t think I’ll sell my desk with Cracks On The Surface, some wide enough to stick a finger through.