‘If you’ve got a unique idea – just go for it’

A 25-year-old dog lover from Texas unleashed an unusual business idea when she moved to Gothenburg three years ago, charting an unexpected path in building up her Swedish career.

'If you've got a unique idea - just go for it'

Carolynn Piittisjärvi came to Sweden after meeting her now-husband through the online game Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a multiplayer online game.

Three years, a pet pooch, and one brainwave later – the Texas-native runs a doggy daycare in central Gothenburg, the Hundstjärnan (“The Dog Star”).

But running a canine daycare was never the plan when she first arrived in Sweden, according to Piittisjärvi.

“After I learned Swedish at SFI, I took an internship (praktik) at a café with the intention of eventually opening my own American-style coffee shop. It turned into a valuable lesson – I realized it wasn’t for me at all,” she tells The Local.

Instead, Piittisjärvi had her moment of clarity while walking a friend’s dog.

SEE ALSO: More interviews from our My Swedish Career series

“I realized that there was an opportunity to make some good extra money by walking more people’s pets. Soon, I was making contacts in the pet world and had a load of loyal customers,” she explains.

Having studied business management back in Texas, it didn’t take long for the 25-year-old to take the idea by the leash and move things up a notch.

“I started reading up on dogs and came to the conclusion that people really wanted more than just a walker. They wanted extra care,” she says.

IN PICTURES: Meet some of the guests at the Gothenburg doggy daycare

Piittisjärvi pooled her savings and bought a place in December that could serve as a full-day home-away-from-home for her canine companions – just like a daycare for children but for dogs, she explains.

Four months on, the business is thriving.

“We have 25 dogs here now, there’s always something to do,” she says, as a dog starts barking in the background.

“Dog daycares are becoming more and more popular in Sweden and worldwide, and people are starting to pay attention to the laws. A lot of people don’t know that it’s actually illegal to leave a dog at home alone for more than six hours in Sweden for example.”

But does a day of care actually involve at the centre?

“Well, we take them for a walk in the morning and again in the afternoon. I’ve taken as many as twelve at once, but it’s usually around eight.”

While some people have called her a “dog whisperer”, Piittisjärvi is quick to brush off the label and admits that she simply enjoys a job that involves so much play.

“I couldn’t be happier. The work is so therapeutic, but it’s also a wonderful challenge trying to find a way to mesh all these animals’ different personalities,” she says.

SEE ALSO: Click here for the latest listings for jobs in Sweden

But it’s been a long road for the Texan, and she’s learnt a lesson or two over the past three years.

“If you think you have an idea that provides something unique for many people, then you should go for it. If it means you have to live minimally so you can save money then you’ve got to just put up with it.

“A lot of people jump into things too fast here, you can’t feel bad about rejection, you have to simply take it in stride. I was rejected about fifteen times when I was looking for a place for this daycare – but I kept pushing for it because I truly believed in the idea.”

As for the future, Piittisjärvi sees big possibilities for her business.

“Ideally, I’d love to open another place in Gothenburg and then see what happens from there,” she tells The Local.

“There is a big future in dog care.”

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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Obama reveals he wants to work for… Spotify?

Barack Obama may be leaving the White House, but it looks like he's got his future all planned out.

Obama reveals he wants to work for... Spotify?
Barack Obama on a visit to Sweden in 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

One of Obama's favourite trips abroad was his 2013 visit to Sweden, US tech entrepreneur, podcast editor and former The Local blogger Natalia Brzezinski has revealed the president told her.

She and her husband Mark Brzezinski, who was the US ambassador to Sweden 2011-2015, were invited to the White House on Wednesday evening along with other diplomats appointed by Obama.

“I finally got the chance to thank him for the life-changing appointment to Sweden,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.

“He said word for word: 'I loved visiting you in Stockholm, it was my favourite trip. I plan to go back there really soon'.”

Obama went to Stockholm on an official state visit in 2013. And Brzezinski, the CEO of creative tech festival Symposium Stockholm, revealed she tried to tempt him back to attend its Brilliant Minds conference in June.

He did not promise anything, but did at least urge Brzezinski to “send him the details”.

Obama leaves his post on January 20th, handing over the reins to Republican president-elect Donald Trump. As for the outgoing president's future, it looks like he's got his heart set on a certain Swedish music streaming giant.

“I'm still waiting for my job at Spotify… 'cause I know y'all loved my playlist,” Brzezinski quoted him as saying.

We are pretty sure he was joking, but it is not the first time Obama has praised Sweden.

Former prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt revealed in an interview last year that the US president had told him on his visit to Stockholm that he would love to return again with his family.

“Shortly thereafter I met Michelle and Barack Obama again in New York and Michelle confirmed that Barack talked to her about it after his visit to Stockholm. I said I hoped they would find time to return after his presidency,” Reinfeldt told the Aftonbladet tabloid in September.