Inspiring women - Freja Troelsen
My interview with the sweet and talented Freja is the third instalment in my series of interviews with inspiring women (check out my interview with Ashley Jensen from Mouse in the House shop here and my interview with Sanne Hop here, if you missed it)
One thing that has been both lovely but also surprising about starting this business is all the lovely women I've connected with. If I'm going to be honest, I was never much of a customer service person, and I was a bit leery about getting into what is essentially a customer service business. But wow was I ever wrong. Connecting with other women, our customers, and making new friends has actually been the most rewarding thing about starting Devon's Drawer.
I wanted to do this interview series to share a bit about the amazing women I've met. These women have been so gracious, answered my (probably silly) questions, given me advice, and supported our little business, and I am eternally grateful.
I met Freja through Instagram. I can't remember exactly when I stumbled across her page, but I instantly fell in love with the moody chiaroscuro look of her photographs. We've since become friends, and she very kindly agreed to let me interview her for this series. I love her Women and Their Children project, so make sure to check that out.
For those who may not know you, can you tell us who you are?
Hello. First of all, thank you so much for letting me take part in this. I’m Freja, and I’m 26 years old, living in the city of Copenhagen with my two kids, Frigg (3 years old) and Fridtjof (1 year old), and my boyfriend and father of the children, Jonas, or Fjonas as I call him because he is the only one in our family without a name that begins with the letter F. My days go by with studies, writing, and photographing, but first of all I’m a mother. And, of course, occasionally I spend some time with a friend or two.
What or who inspires you?
I get inspired by my kids. I actually didn’t really photograph before becoming a mother, but it’s like they change my way of seeing things. I see beauty in the little things now – in those little moments of our ordinary daily life, and that is truly my inspiration for my writing, for my photographs, and for the way I live my life.
The light is a big inspiration to me too, and it’s actually like I don’t even function on grey days without light, and you might think I live in the wrong country then, cause here in Denmark it rains 150 days a year, but then again, I don’t think the light would inspire me the way it does, if it was just here all the time.
Instagram is a source of inspiration too. It’s just amazing with a platform like that, with so many talented and kind-hearted people – across all countries and different lifestyles. And it was on Instagram I met you!
What are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to have some time off. My maternity leave ended three months ago, and our days have just been crazily busy ever since, and I miss those slow days – taking long naps and playing on the floor. I have a final exam in a few weeks, and then I actually have two months off to finally give my neglected projects some much needed attention, and just be with my family without those stressful thoughts about to-dos running circles in my head. I really am looking forward to that, and that is what keeps me going right now. I’m not the coolest person under pressure, I must say, but I somehow always end up being so busy. But I really do enhoy to do absolutely nothing sometimes, to just be, because when I’m relaxed the creativity flows – and then suddenly I’m super busy again.
Could you talk about your “Women and their Children” project? What inspired this project?
Women and their children is one of those neglected projects I really look forward to working on again. I actually just scheduled my first shoot for this project after taking a very long break. I started this project shortly after giving birth to my youngest. When I was about seven months pregnant with him, I got a hormon-based depression, and it was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever went through. I felt the depression was out of my hands, like it just suddenly took over, and I was so scared to welcome him to this world, and so scared that I wouldn’t get better. When I gave birth to my little boy something the doctors have since described as a radical hormon change happened, and I could feel that change the very second I held him in my arms for the first time – I came back to my normal self, but I felt so ashamed not having this happy pregnancy, and the ”right” feelings waiting for him, butone day I decided that I didn’t want shame to be such a big part of my motherhood, and I got this idea that, in meeting with other mothers, I would learn to accept this imperfect motherhood of mine. So I started this project, and I’m so happy that I did, cause I really needed to learn that being a mother isn’t about being perfect – it’s about always trying to do your best, about being yourself, about growing with your child. Until my depression, I hadn’t ever raised my voice or ever(!) said no. I never did anything for myself and I never took a break – I never actually allowed myself to think that I needed a break. I thought I needed to be this perfect mother who didn’t need anything other in life than being a mother. With this project, and by talking to these women and taking their pictures, I started to feel a connection with motherhood, in a new kind of way, a feeling that we are all one big community of mothers,and we all have our different fears and strengths, and we all just try to do our very best every single day. Ireally found some strength in that.
I love the chiaroscuro look of your photos. Any tips for aspiring photographers?
Thank you so much! I’m no expert really, and I don’t know much about technical camera stuff. Everything I know is entirely self-taught. But I believe the most important thing is that you find your style, and then the technical can come later. Everybody can learn how a camera works. Find your style, stay true and it will shine through.
What do you do to relax or unwind?
I give myself permission to do so. I mean, to relax is easier said than done for me. I can go for a walk, take a yoga class or go to a coffeeshop and just do nothing but look out the window and drink my coffee – these areall things I do to relax or unwind, but they only workfor me if I let myself take a break from my head too. Then I write all the stuff I need to do and all the things I’m worrying about down on a note, and then I put the note away. Then I’m able to let go of these things for a while, and just relax.
I love your photos of Copenhagen, it’s one of my favourite cities. Can you tell me about some of your favourite spots in the city?
I love Copenhagen too, and I grew up here so I have actually lived my whole life here so far. We use two parks a lot, especially one called Fælledparken. It’s close to our apartment and there are so many great playgrounds for the kids. We use our local area a lot, and in that way it’s actually like we aren’t living in this big city, but in a small urban community. We use our local coffee shop a lot, and we shop in the local stores, and it’s actually kind of rare that we leave our neighbourhood. We have all we need around here, and we like to support the locals. Besides, when you have two kids the age of mine, you don’t always have the energy to really go about the city – even though Copenhagen isn’t that big a city.
Can you talk about raising kids in a city, some advantages and disadvantages?
That is such a tricky subject, and it’s a subject that we’ve discussing a lot around here – especially lately. It’s expensive to live in the city, and we don’t have a lot of space, and we don’t have our own garden, and I can see how the kids are affected by living four people in such a small apartment. Some days I dream about having more space, and to have this big garden where the children will be able to play all day – without me worrying about the danger of traffic, cars and stuff. But there is also something wonderful about living in this small apartment, close to your neighbours, and everybody knows each other, and we meet every day in the yard, and the kids know everybody – from the other kids and babies to the wise old man with his paper, and everybody knows them. That feels quite special.
Any parenting inspirations you want to share?
Oh, I don’t know. That is a difficult question to answer. We are doing what works for us, until it doesn’t work anymore, and then we try to do something new. We learned that our kids, and maybe ourselves as the adults, need structure, so we are always sit down Friday night to plan our weekend to come. I wish I could say that we were spontaneous and just took it one day at the time, but we don’t.
And in general – just listen to your gut. That is my advice to almost anything in life, I guess. But I guess my advice would be that structuring your days, at least to some extent, does seem to do a lot of good for most children. What seems obvious and natural to us grown-ups, isn’t always as obvious for children. We might even address meals, visits to the toilet et cetera hours in advance. This seems to be good for our 3-year-old. But, then again, every child is unique.
Can you talk about what sparked your interest in sustainability and slow fashion, and how you are incorporating this into your lifestyle?
I have never been a materialistic person, but I didn’t use to give much thought to my own consumer habits.But when we got our first child Frigg, we got so many gifts, and so much stuff we didn’t need, and everything was just lying around, not being used and I just had enough. So I took a stand, and I started to read and I discovered the world of sustainability, and now it’s just the way we live, we actually don’t give it so much thought anymore, but we get a lot of pleasure, and much less stress, from living like this – eating local and organic, buying stuff because we need it or really, really want it, and not just because we can. We like to supportlocal and small companies, and they often tend to have a personal story behind them, a reason for getting into their field, a mission. That makes a lot more sense to me.