Jon and Giovanna Lindberg are the founding restaurateurs behind Jord & Bord (Earth & Table), the award winning vegetarian restaurant in the South of Sweden, where the couple grow their own produce in the fields that surround their farm-to-fork restaurant.
As we continue our exploration of the work-life blend to understand how business owners and senior leaders develop their personal and professional ambitions in tandem, our conversation with the Lindberg’s was filled with inspiring insights and practical advice for budding entrepreneurs considering how to take their first leap.
From London to Rural Sweden
The Lindbergs are a rare example of a married couple who are also equal business partners. Their vision for what is now Jord & Bord started with a shared passion for food, creating dishes and to one day owning a restaurant. In 2015, after almost 10 years working as a Lobbyist for Tech Stars and Politicians, Jon started to feel a lack of purpose in the work he was doing, “I was working 40+ hours a week but all I was doing was looking forward to my free time. I started to realise this wasn’t right. I was turning 30 and I didn’t want to be only looking forward to my evenings and weekends for the rest of my life. I started baking as a creative and joyful outlet and this led to running a delivery service in London and I realised how much I enjoyed making people happy and I wanted to do that with my everyday.”
Giovanna equally looked forward to hosting supper clubs outside of her 9-5 and it was with this shared need for purpose and enjoyment in their whole life, a “one life” that embraces the commercial and the personal, that the couple left London to create a new pace together in rural Sweden. Whilst this move sounds both bold and idyllic, the Lindbergs were quick to add that Jon’s family own the farmland and ahead of the move they took time to consider what their contingency plan would be if their idea of self-sufficiency didn’t work out. “You have to keep in mind that whilst you have a new freedom to explore the projects you want to spend your time on and growing, you also have the new pressure that comes without a stable monthly salary”.
The Two Different Meanings of ‘Lagom’
You may have heard the Swedish word ‘lagom’ peppered into the marketing of Scandi-inspired products, and seemingly overtaking it’s Danish and Norwegian counterpart, hygge! When used to represent the positive meaning of the word, lagom is the idea of “all being in it’s right place” or “balanced”. However, unknown by many people outside of Sweden, the negative second meaning is actually not one that Jon and Giovanna aspire to: “lagom also represents this idea of ‘not being better than others’ and ‘not excelling in what you do’. It also errs on the negative side so that when a person is looking to do something new, they are quickly reminded of what could go wrong before they start. To us this is very limiting and the opposite of how we aim to continuously learn and grow.”
The curiosity and positive attitude towards trying new things and being the best you can be, which Jon and Giovanna share, was crucial for finding their feet in the first 2 years of their start-up. Reflecting on this time, Jon said: “the first years were full-time work, we didn’t create enough time for our personal ambitions.” This was an important stage of learning because it enabled Giovanna to put her organisational skills to good use, “my time management was essential for ensuring we weren’t being too led by our passions. Instead we needed to identify our strengths and weaknesses and see where we could each lift the load and lead our passions with our head.” During this time they developed their own daily planner, because there wasn’t an ‘off the shelf’ option that included the mix of daily goals, milestones, self-development time and taking the time to be thankful, which they sought to measure both their personal and professional growth.
Community, Values & Sustainability
The reputation that Jon and Giovanna have built in the local area of Örnahusen and wider Skåne County, is a testament to the values they put at the centre of all they achieve together. It started with wanting to find joy in the everyday and to ultimately bring joy to others with their delicious food, which takes inspiration from all the places they’ve visited in the world. From this simple root, an abundance of business ideas have grown alongside their restaurant: garden tours, holding workshops to teach children and other age groups how to cultivate crops, digital courses to enable people to learn from home, wellbeing classes including yoga and dance on site followed by an energising brunch and hosting world famous musicians from the area at intimate evenings at the restaurant.
The Lindbergs have a real sense of what community, values and sustainability mean in practice, now more than ever. At a time when they cannot host people at the restaurant they are feeding their regulars with their collection service and have been so humbled by the number of orders they are receiving. When asked what fellow business owners can learn from times in flux, the couple’s positive and practical attitude shines through: “things are unknown until you explore them, and even then, you only have more to gain with the knowledge you will get out of the experience”. Circling back to a shared desire to grow and keep learning, Jon gives an example about harvesting crops, “when growings ‘fail’ the next step is to remember that the next crop will be different because you continue to build on what you learn and eliminate the wrong ways until you get it right”. The couple have doubled their crops over the years, which is now providing an additional revenue stream as they sell their produce and bake bread to continue supporting themselves and the community that surrounds them.
During this time when physical events are postponed, the Lindbergs are using the additional time to plan the release of their next ventures, bringing forward the release of their digital courses and the arrival of their soon to be self-published Daily Planner to this year. So until it’s possible to plan a trip to Sweden, be sure to follow the Jord & Bord instagram to see what the Lindbergs are creating together next!