Elisabeth at home, photographed by her 14-year-old son, Otto

Elisabeth Dunker is the creative genius behind Fine Little Day, a much-loved and super-successful online homewares store and blog, which she started nearly 10 years ago. Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, she talks about working round-the-clock while raising two kids, and how her role as a mother has changed now that they’re in their teens…

Tell us about running your own business…
I started Fine Little Day in 2007: just me, on my own. That proved to be rather challenging for me and my family at times, there never seemed to be enough time to do everything. Today however, I have a little gang of people working with me so I can concentrate on just three or four things at a time, instead of 25.

Of course the spread of the mobile internet has made a big difference to how we work, for instance today Instagram rules over blogging, and smartphones play a central role in buying behaviour.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
I’ve found some aspects of running a business challenging, for instance I have limited knowledge (or interest) in the financial side of things, which is key to getting a business to survive in the long-run. But then one of the best aspects of my work has been that I’ve been able to be flexible and work from home, which was especially important when the kids were small. This means that I have been (more or less) really present as a mum.

Do you ever switch off?
I consider myself hugely fortunate that I really enjoy my work. On the downside, that means I still occasionally work round-the-clock, and I guess I never really ‘leave’ work as it were, but lately I’ve been trying to re-calibrate my circadian rhythm and stop working so late into the night. I am making some progress , but it’s slow.

There have been a lot of compromises over the years and I don’t think I’ve ever really achieved the elusive work/life balance, but I’m grateful each day to work alongside some really great people. Finding good people to work with me at Fine Little Day has not only helped the business to grow, but has also enabled me to be the best that I can.

The Fine Little Day store, in a factory building in Lindome, just outside Gothenburg

What was your childhood like?
I grew in a small town called Sandviken in Sweden. I was the oldest of four girls. My mother was a house-wife and my father worked in the steel industry. I didn’t grow up in a creative family, rather I came from a lower working-class family where the main focus was to make sure that there was food on the table, and after that there wasn’t much energy left for anything else. I did have dreams of being a photographer or an artist, but I never would have imagined that they would be fulfilled.

And you have two grown up children now?
Yes, today I live in Gothenburg with my husband and our two children. Both are in their teens so they don’t need my attention quite as much as they used to. These days they like to have their own life with their friends so my main role as a mum seems to be to nag about trivial things, like cleaning up after themselves, telling them to turn off computers and smartphones at night and to sleep instead. But of course I am also there to support them, especially when they get lost in the sea of emotions and start to struggle.

How do you spend time together as a family?
I love to hang out with my kids, we have many happy times together as a family. We try to eat dinner together each night, I see this an essential part of our every day life. My husband or our daughter Tovalisa cooks, Otto, our son, (sometimes) sets the table, and I take care of the dishes. Every Friday we get take-away pizza, or sushi, and on the weekends we watch movies late into the night and sleep long into the mornings.

What life lessons do you hope to teach your kids?
For me the most important thing is that my children live their lives as they want to. I don’t try to push them in any direction. I just want them to have fun and be kind.

For more about Elisabeth and to check out her beautiful homewares go to finelittleday.com

More in Shop