Escaping Burnout — From Stockholm to the Mountains | Red Hat Factory

Escaping Burnout — From Stockholm to the Mountains

Emeli Nilsson
Category: People:Passion People:Passion
| May 3, 2021

Telling the story of Fjelltopp is, at the heart, a story about our journey. For us the two stories are the same. Fjelltopp is us, and our homage to everything nature and the mountains has given us and continue to give. They have given us our health back, and a life we only could dream about. 

Asphalt jungle

Back in 2016 we were living a totally different life. Life was all about working — a lot. The more the better. It was about what you could get for your apartment per square meter, how you could move as fast and efficiently throughout your everyday life as possible.

I had just left my career in finance in the real estate business, to reeducate myself in PR and marketing. The other half of Fjelltopp, Mathias, was at that time working as chief designer at a design agency, in which he also had a partnership. He usually worked long days, into evenings, and sometimes through the night to meet deadlines.

I on the other hand found myself having left a very stressful industry, only to find myself in the same rut again. Different tasks, but with the same old and familiar stress.

“It was as if we never ever felt satisfied with what we had, we were always on the run looking for the next thing.”

Photographing the Swedish mountains with the company Fjelltopp
My camera goes with me everywhere nowadays. The light and colors changes every minute, it’s such a dynamic and magical place. Photo: Sixten Nilsson

It was as if we never ever felt satisfied with what we had, we were always on the run looking for the next thing. And on top of everything, Mathias was training for an actual marathon — a mountain marathon. So, it might not come as a shock that he hit that famous wall. His body had been telling him to slow him down for years, and now decided to take matters into its own hands and shut down completely. 

Right then and there our life changed. 

Exit the rat race — enter the mountains

The following two years was all about recovery. Mathias’ body had physically and mentally broken down, and he had to rebuild it.

For you to understand how long of a journey recovering from something like this can be, let’s give you some numbers. In a big survey from the Swedish department of health, only 16% felt completely recovered after 7 years. Some will never recover. The damage done on your body from all that stress might never go away. 

“This time we weren’t going on a vacation, we were going to our new home to start our new life.”

Fjelltopp, the Swedish design company bringing nature to you.
Our biggest challenge today is finding that work/life balance. The road to recovery is a long and tricky one. Falling back into old patterns is easy. Creating new better ones are harder.
Photo: Emeli Nilsson

In 2018 the big day finally arrived. We packed all of our belongings — well, the ones we could fit in our car — and drove 600 km northward. It was a journey we had done many times before, but this time we weren’t going on a vacation, we were going to our new home to start our new life.

Once we settled into our new life, we started to work on the idea of creating contemporary motifs for people who love nature and the mountains as much as we do. The idea had actually been born a few years earlier, but now it started coming to life.

Fjelltopp was finally born.

Of course, the birth of Fjelltopp was not without complications, and there were setbacks along the way. One of which I had to pull the emergency break. The accumulated stress I tried to run from had unfortunately caught up with me. To summarize, stress is never good unless you’re literally running for your life.

Emeli Nilsson & Mathias. Fjelltopp.
Taking a break now and then is ever so important.
Photo: Emeli Nilsson

The things we love to make

All of Fjelltopp’s products are created by us. The prints are drawn by Mathias and the photos are all photographed by me. We put a lot of work behind everything, trying to come up with new ideas on how to capture the feeling, colors and the atmosphere of the mountains. We always try to visit the places we create motifs of.

Beyond the day to day hiking around our home and the longer hiking trips we do a few times a year, we at least once a year pack our car and drive to the places we want to see and capture.

Fjelltopp packaging design in the making.
Mathias creating our packaging labels.
Fjelltopp packaging design.
The finished result.

So far, we’ve been to Jotunheimen, Lofoten, Riksgränsen, Sarek, Abisko and many more places around the northern parts of Scandinavia. And we’re constantly trying to get even better at what we do, making our motifs evolve and grow with us. A lot of attention is given to the details — the paper we print on, our packaging and how it looks and feel when you as a customer receive it.

Fjelltopp motifs printed.
It’s all in the details.
Photos: Emeli Nilsson

Our dream is for Fjelltopp to continue to grow, but at a pace we feel comfortable with. Except learning how to build a business, gaining that work/life balance is our biggest challenge. 

The Fjelltopp founders Emeli and Mathias.
On our latest road trip last fall. This time we went north to Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet among other places. We live in the car or a tent, taking daily hikes doing research for new motifs and looking for new inspiration.

“To be brave is not to be fearless. To be brave is to be scared shitless, but do it anyway.”

We sometimes get the question on what made us dare to take the step, quit everything, move to the mountains and start our own company. And what I think many of us need to understand is, that to be brave is not to be fearless. To be brave is to be scared shitless, but do it anyway.

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Written by Emeli Nilsson
Published on May 3, 2021 in People:Passion
Photographer and co-founder of Fjelltopp living in the Swedish mountains. Fjelltopp creates unique posters for mountain lovers.