Stockholm illustration by Paul Thurlby

How deep is your fjord?

I’m moving to Sweden.

2 months ago — I made the decision to move to Stockholm, Sweden. Past summer, H&M asked my partner to join forces as a fashion designer in their global Head Office, the leading fashion retailer of the world. #proud

Stockholm, and Sweden in general, naturally drew a lot of curiosity for me since it is well known for creating beautiful design aesthetics throughout history. It’s also probably the only country in the world to balance its rational DNA with liberal thinking so perfectly. This interesting situation has set my mind in motion these past couple of months, and I decided to treat it as an opportunity to challenge myself both professionally and personally.

This means I’m saying goodbye to These Days, Wunderman and Y&R, leaving my job as the Head of Design in their offices in Antwerp, Brussels and Amsterdam. I had an amazing time these past couple of years, meeting loads of talented people (+250), building cross-disciplinary teams across cities & working for ambitious clients, both local and global — making it possible to create, build and ship extraordinary (30+ award-winning) work. It has been a never-ending learning experience that shaped me to be the best version of myself to this date. I can say humbly that I was privileged to work at this amazing company.

Today — One week in Stockholm already, taking it all in… especially the cold! Being new in a country means meeting a lot of new people. Past 5 days I’ve met a variety of people, gaining new perspectives already. I joined the Belgian Chamber of Commerce (VOKA) and their delegation of entrepreneurs on their inspiration trip, visiting tech unicorns Spotify and Klarna, had beers with Emmy-winning game studio Goodbye Kansas (AMC’s The Walking Dead), and had an eye opening experience on startup-culture with the Head of Startups at Invest Stockholm (a part of the city’s government). Fun fact: Stockholm is Europe’s equivalent of Palo Alto’s Silicon Valley, fostering together the biggest creative and tech scene in the world.(!) Besides this, a couple of good talks with open-minded people at other amazing companies confirmed that I’ve made the right decision to move here.

Tomorrow — I believe the best way to build relationships (with people, companies or customers) is to be yourself. Being true to yourself is good for your business. That’s why I am dedicated in finding a company that shares that belief, where I can focus on building a brand(s) or product(s) that people love. A sustainable environment where I can build complementary teams of happy people, continuing to challenge the status quo by creating meaningful and stunning work. Because I truly believe you don’t build a company, you build a movement — right from day one.

Cheers from Sweden,
Skål från Stockholm,

Max Heirbaut
office@maxheirbaut.co