Living in another country can be struggling, but also it gives a lot of interesting meetings and surprises.
Several weeks ago at meeting at a museum I met Joanna. We talked and it appeared that she has her own company.
I met her and her business partner for an interview and I am looking forward to share their story.
Joanna came to Denmark from Poland 4 years ago, she is married to a Dane. In Poland Joanna was an English teacher.
Her partner, Jandira, is from Guatemala. She has been married with a Dane for 23 years. Before they lived in Mexico, Venezuela, where she worked in an export industry. In total she has been living in Denmark for 7 years.
As most of the internationals, the women had the same problems: integration into the Danish society, learning the language, inability to use their educations in potentional jobs.
Since both of them had international backgrounds and were working with English, they decided to go to tour guide courses. On courses, organised by the oldest guiding association in the city, they met weekly and this how their friendship began.
As it appeared, tour guide business in Aarhus is seasonal and depends on international ships that come to the Aarhus port.
Last year in May, when they finished courses and started working, they were offered only 7 guided tours for the ship passengers in the whole season.
Joanna started to see another opportunity in being a guide in Aarhus. She organised weekly walk tours (in the beginning based on tips) in English, Polish and German, and after Jandira joined, they added tours in Spanish.
The tours are aimed at internationals, who work and study in Aarhus. The idea is not only to show the main attractions, but to help new comers to feel the rhythm of the city and to provide them with interesting facts about their new home.
During tours for Aarhus Guides and Aarhus Explorers, their customers always asked about specific Aarhus souvenirs, that were difficult to find.
Joanna and Jandira decided to open another business with souvenir production.
In the beginning they had a lot of meetings with lawyers and business consultants at star-up consulting center.
But eventually they were proud to present beautiful and modern design of souvenirs with Aarhus name.
The slogan is ‘Aarhus Smilets By’ (City of Smiles) and it is a direct reference to the slogan from the 1930s.
Joanna told me an interesting story about it. Once she wrote a letter to a local newspaper about tourism in Aarhus, and the son of creator of this slogan wrote her back. As he wrote, his father was a dentist and originally he used ‘City of smiles’ for his business, at the same time he was a member of a local tourist association, so they used his idea for some projects in 1930s.
When Joanna and Jandira presented him their products, he was happy his father’s work is still remembered.
Now, Joanna and Jandira are working on promotion ‘Urban Code‘ and their products, mainly attending meetings and talking to business people of the city.
And what is amazing for me, they enjoy all the challenges of having business in foreign country, they are proud of their work, they love helping internationals to have good memories from trips to Aarhus,and they hope in future they will be able to present more souvenirs in association with local artists.
As for me, I hope you will be able to come to tours with Aarhus Explorers and to bring home you own happy memories from Aarhus, city of smiles.