In this edition of 10 Questions, we speak with Seraina Silja Hürlimann about her journey as an entrepreneur.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and where you’re from?
Sure, I’m Seraina Silja Hürlimann — originally Swiss, but have been living abroad (Hamburg, Stuttgart, Stockholm, Copenhagen and a bunch of other inspiring cities) during the past eight years.
Now being in Copenhagen, I recently co-founded a new venture WAY — a strategy firm driven by curiosity and digital by default. WAY helps businesses tap their full potential by continually moving from strategy to impact so they can be relevant tomorrow and create a future we want to live in.
Prior to WAY, I worked as an independent Brand & Marketing Strategist for brands like Tokyo-based tokyobike, German start-up TYPE HYPE, and Swiss furniture house Interio.
2. What motivated you to work as an entrepreneur?
I didn’t plan it; it happened. I had no idea when I started, learned everything on the fly, but it starts to make sense now: Running a business has a lot to do with being okay, not knowing. As a person who never takes things for granted, questions the norm and is eager to find new ways to stay relevant, I would say that I am comfortable with ‘the unknown’— an asset that comes in handy in times where most things speed up and seem to change continually. One of the greatest rewards in return (and hence a motivator) is being in charge of my time; 100% of the time.
3. Could you tell us a bit more about what inspired you to start ‘fourweeksgood’?
Back in 2016, I was working independently for a few years — mostly building and growing brands in consumer goods online. Most of the work happened remotely already, but I was curious to explore remote work from several places. It started with a foolish ‘what if‘ and turned into a year-long business trip living in 12 cities in 12 months to combine work and play in Auckland, Melbourne, Tokyo, Vancouver, Berlin, Budapest, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Stockholm, Vienna and Helsinki — four weeks each.
4. How would you say your work has evolved over the last 5 years?
The biggest transition is happening right now; from freelancer to co-founder — an exciting and challenging evolution with a steep learning curve. Like in every transition phase, framing the change is not always apparent at the time. It’s much easier to say what stays the same in every transformation: a dose of ‘intelligent naivety’ — the essential ingredient to start something new, believe in it and push towards the next five years.
5. Where do you get most of your inspiration from?
Lately, I feel inspired when being outside walking, running or cycling, listening to podcasts, talking to friends and meeting new faces over excellent coffee.
6. What is minimal design to you?
Everything you need, nothing you don’t.
To be able to follow this principle and select everything with a ‘less but better’ mentality, products and services have to be aesthetic, simple, functional, made for everyday use, and get better over time.
7. How do you balance your work life and your personal creative projects?
For me, it’s more about digital wellbeing; balancing online and offline time. I love the connectivity in the world and take advantage of it to build up my company. Having access to the online side of life is a powerful tool. But the more time I spend offline, the happier, present and at ease, I feel. So it’s about leaving the online world regularly and dedicating off time to workouts (every morning), cooking (daily) and close friends (at least once a week).
8. What are you reading at the moment?
I love shorter articles and read every monthly issue of brand eins, a German business magazine. Other than that, I newly discovered the printed version of London-based Courier and like the series of Magazine B — an ad-less monthly publication highlighting one brand only in each issue.
9. Favorite artist/designer?
It depends on the context where object, message and space blend together. One stunning example was the Dan Flavin exhibition in the Espace Louis Vuitton Gallery in Tokyo, back in 2017. The artist was a leading figure in the Minimalist movement and dedicated his life to exploring the medium of light. Espace’s glass-box-character highlighted the artwork amazingly.
Another one is the Open Sky installation by Phillip K Smith III for COS during Milan’s Salone del Mobile in 2018. The art installation, placed in Palazzo Isimbardi, was designed to respond to its surroundings and frame the Milanese sky within mirrors. A simple but powerful fusion of the aesthetics of COS and the Italian metropole.
10. If you were to pick a city to live in right now, where would it be and why?
I newly chose Copenhagen as a home base — no city I’d rather be right now. Copenhagen is small enough to make me feel at home and big enough always to reinvent itself. But I wouldn’t mind a Vipp shelter somewhere remote in the Swiss Alps as a secondary nature retreat.