A woman sits outside an old wooden cottage

Agnes Boeske – A story about starting fresh

Sven Burman
Sven Burman
- There are three Swedish words that makes me extra happy when I hear them. "Bastu", "Fika" and... "Panta". Yes, "Panta"! We both laugh, me and Agnes that this story is about. Agnes moved to Skellefteå 1,5 years ago to start fresh.

We sit together outside one of the chambers of Bonnstan. So far we've always talked english when we run into eachother on different occasions, but now she's challenging herself to speak swedish for a video portrait I'm producing. A language she'd never even heard of before she moved here. She's written down a few key words, but the paper slips through the cracks of the porch we're sitting on as soon as we start filming.

- Typical, now it will be even harder. Agnes sighs but her smile is soon back on her lips.

Agnes is born in Chodziez, Poland, and decided to move to Sweden with her husband when he was accepted as one of four students at the Wood Science and Engineering program at campus. One of the world's most respected educations regarding wood enginering. 

- You know, everything is different when you move. Agnes explains. A new language, a new job, you have no friends. You need to learn how to live from one day to another and do the small steps. It's not easy, but it's exciting to start fresh. For me, a part of that passion is connected to learning about the arctic lifestyle and getting to know the place.

- I've studied Albanian and Macedonian. Not that sought after in Skellefteå though, Agnes laughs. But Agnes is a woman with thick skin and has already had several jobs, and even started a company. We'll circle back to that later.

Agnes and Konrad sits on a rock and eats food cooked outdoors

Why Skellefteå?

I want to know more about her relation to this place, Skellefteå, and I ask an open question. 

- I always get that question. Why this city in the north of Sweden where there's snow on the ground for six months. Why a city in a part of the world where the sun never shines. It's not an easy question to answer, but I think Skellefteå challenged me. Made me question things in my life. To find myself and take away all the white noice. I've never experienced this much in such short time and I truly love the northern way of life. 

- I've lived in Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Poland but the fact is that I've never felt this at home as I do in Skellefteå. Everything that makes me happy is right here. People who care, amazing nature and the entire Swedish Lapland within reach. 

- In addition, I think I appreciate the warmth and the summers even more after a cold and snowy winter. If I ever write a book about my own life I wouldn't be suprised if the word Skellefteå occurs a million times. 

You can see the fire and drive in Agnes eyes. It makes me happy that people like her is drawn to the place that me myself take for granted. 

- I swear, and I always will, that it's important to have a passion for new things in life, Agnes says. 

- That passion makes me fight harder. Makes me wake up earlier in the mornings. For me, that passion is now connected to my will to learn about the arctic lifestyle and getting to know this place. 

Agnes brushes away sanding dust from a piece of wood.

Interior design with a touch of Swedish Lapland

Agnes applied in the last second to the Skellefteå based competition Vinn ett AB together with her husband Konrad. They had small expectations to win, but that's exactly what they did. They have now started the business Feels Like North. 

- I never had any pland to start my own business, Agnes tells me. 

- I've never had the right idea, but I felt creative and inspired after 1,5 years in Sweden, so when we got the chance we had to try it. We want to create interior design products. Everything from espresso mugs made with wood to lamps in the shape of reindeer antlers, but also made with wood. 

Agnes gestures wildly with her hands to illustrate her idea. 

- Our products is inspired by Swedish Lapland. But, I think that since we've not grown up here we look at this place and your traditional crafts differently. Our plan is to travel through the entire Swedish Lapland to get inspiration to our products. 

- Everything we produce has so far come from Skellefteå. We can trace it back to exactly who is the owner and producer of the raw materials we work with. It truly feels like this small town can give us everything we need for our business. 

Agnes and I have talked about 45 minutes about her restart and I can't help but get moved by ger story. I think about moving to Poland this late in life, but I'm not as brave as Agnes. And, actually, I too feel very at home here in Skellefteå.

Agnes sits on a pile of logs and drinks from a cup.