GRÜNDER: Glenda Anfinsen is the founder of Distinct Interiør AS.
– To start a business is actually easier than many people think, especially here in Norway where a number of affordable and helpful resources are easily accessible, Glenda Anfinsen, the founder of Distinct Interiør, says.
Tekst og foto: Irene R. Mjelde
– NORWAY has many useful resources for start-up entrepreneurs, such as financial support, free mentorship and business courses, like the courses being offered by Etablerersenteret, Glenda Anfinsen informs.
– When starting a business, what you need are proper planning and implementation, and to be surrounded with the right people. I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive husband who believes in my ideas and gives me constructive criticism so I can improve and avoid possible mistakes.
Anfinsen recently started her first firm in Norway, Distinct Interiør AS, but she is not totally new in the game. In her country of birth, the Philippines, she already has two businesses wich currently all together runs about 30 employees.
– I started the mother company Distinct Creative Corporation in 2007, a design and manufacturing company. In 2010 I and my husband started Manila Condominiums, a real estate company, and in June 2017, Distinct Interiør AS was established here in Norway
FUN: Glenda Anfinsen loves running her own firm.
THE BUSINESS idea Anfinsen came up with was to develop a worldwide, user-friendly online platform for interior designers, event planners, suppliers and customers, also offering interior products such as decors, lightings, textile, furniture and more.
– By using an integrated 5D space planner, you can choose and add products from the website and visualise your space before you place an order. If you need help you will also be able to contact an interior designer or event planner with just a few clicks, she explains.
– The platform also offers customisation by using the integrated design app where everyone can design their own products and place an order with fast turnaround.
ANFINSEN moved to Norway eight years ago and is now the mother of two.
– I started my own company mainly because I want to do the things that I love and take care of my family at the same time, especially now that my children are still small.
The only challenge she can think of during the start-up phase was the feeling of lack of time. The Distinct Interiors founder does everything herself, from administration, sales and marketing, customer support, and procurement, just to mention a few.
– Luckily I am a big fan of automation and I have managed to automate some areas so I have more time to spend on the most important aspects of the business – wich is sales. I still need to work a lot, often during nighttime when the kids are sleeping.
Anfinsen hopes it will be lesser work later when the business if fully established and when she has found the right solutions to run the business more efficiently.
– I used to plan that I would retire when I turned 35 and just dedicate my time to my family. Now I’m 40 and still I think I need to extend ten years more. But that is no problem. I love what I do and in this job I can take care of both my work and my family.
THE INTERIOR FOUNDER is proud of what she have achieved. During the Bergen Christmas market in 2018 she had the opportunity to test the market for personalized products and the response from the people was way above her expectation.
– The idea of offering personalized products with express delivery is the first and only of its kind here in Norway. It was such a wonderful feeling to see our customers with big smiles on their faces when we handed them their finished product. They could not believe that we were able to personalize a product in just 10 minutes using images from their mobile phones.
With a big smile herself Anfinsen tells that they were also approached by several business owners for potential corporate orders.
– It was such fun and a really rewarding experience.
Anfinsen is also very proud of her talented and loyal team who work remotely and manages to finish their tasks really fast, even with the big time difference between Norway and Asia.
– My artists are working from the Philippines, and my website developer/programmer is working from India. I am also as fortunate to have established a partnership with reliable suppliers from different parts of the world who deliver high quality products to my customers.
She reveals that it in the beginning was a challenge to achieve trust but now that has improved a lot.
– Most of my business partners are from China, others are from USA, UK and Canada.
FOR NOW Anfinsen is the only employee for Distinct Interiør. In addition she has two freelance artists and the website developer/programmer mentioned above, and she hire seasonal workers when needed.
– I also hire economic help from an accountant. However, I am using an accounting system that is integrated between my online store and my bank. All the sales and expenses are automatically synced to the bank and to the accounting system.
Then the only job for her accountant is to check if everything is in order, and submission of reports and necessary documents to the TAX authority.
– The good thing about this business is that I can work wherever and whenever I want. I have a small home-office where I have a few machines to fulfill some of the orders, but most of them are fulfilled by my suppliers. If needed I use coworking space in BTO (Bergen Teknologioverføring). There I can freely use office facilities, meet people with incredible business ideas and get access to important competence and resources.
Distinct Interiørs customers are both private individuals and corporations, mostly from the USA and Europe.
– I also have some customers from different parts of Norway and working on to penetrate a bigger Norwegian market. I can confidently say that the business is now taking care of itself and the number of customers is increasing regularly. I projected this business to be 100% implemented in 2020. Now it’s about 10% established. I take one step at a time.
TRICK: Distinct Interiørs magic mermaid pillow is a hit. You can change the decoration by stroking your hand.
ETABLERERSENTERET, which is a consulting office for fresh entrepreneurs, has been very supportive for Anfinsen during her companys start-up phase. Her favourite courses are A-B-C Etablering, wich she attended twice, and Økonomi Illustrator.
– Most of the business decisions that I am taking are based on the knowledge and advices that I got from the courses and events that I attended from Etablerersenteret. This consulting office is the right place for those who are starting or want to start a business. There they will get the necessary knowledge, inspiration and network to jumpstart and to succeed, Anfinsen states.
She tells that the advisers at Etablerersenteret gave her the self-confidence she needed to start her own business. And by attending their events and meetings during the start-up phase she got to meet likeminded people and build a network.
– Etablesenteret also inspired me to start the Filipino-Norwegian Business Association (Fil-Nor), a non-profit organisation, with aim to help Filipinos in Norway to start their own business. I meet many Filipinos here in Norway who have great potential to be an entrepreneur.
ANFINSENS BEST advices for starting a business is:
– If you have a business idea you really believe in but don’t know how to start, learn the basics and work with your idea as soon as possible. The rest you will learn along the way. Don’t wait too long! If others get the same idea and start before you you are too late.
– Be surrounded with likeminded people who can inspire and motivate you. Distinguish between constructive criticisms from trusted people and the opposite.
– Love what you do and have fun!