A new chapter in Spain

Published June 28 2018 by MiMove

What is it like to create a whole new life in Spain? The MiMove-blog has met with Gunnel who moved to Marbella when her son was only a baby. Now she starts another chapter in Spain.

My family has a long-standing love affair with Spain. My granny holidayed in Mallorca already in the 50’s which was quite unusual back then. Before the whole charter tourism started with flying on an airplane people caught a coach to their destination. It took four days to get to Mallorca. My first trip to Spain was to Fuengirola together with my mum in 1977.

Loving Spain

I liked Spain a lot from the start and I went back many times. 23 years ago, I went with my then husband on a golfing trip to Marbella in Spain. At the same time, we started to look a bit more actively for a permanent home in the sun for us. Both of us travelled a fair bit for work and we wanted to build a base in Spain instead of Sweden. We found our large finca up in the mountains above Marbella. We instantly knew that this was home. Then our son was only three-month old. And the first chapter in Spain had started.

While I stayed at home with our son and my husband travelled a lot I had the finca refurbished. I learnt Spanish quickly talking to the builders. As I hadn’t yet built a network of friends, talking with the Spanish builders was a good start. I believe it is important to put yourself out there and not be shy when it comes to socializing in a new environment. Once I whipped up the courage to start talking to a lady at a golfing dinner. We hit it off straight away and became the best of friends. Our children still meet up sometimes.

When the finca was ready I needed something else to do. I started selling golf collections, both garments and equipment from our guesthouse. I would invite my guests and customers to try some specialties like cinnamon rolls and Swedish hotdogs to make a memorable impression.

Swedish style clogs in Spain

In 2004 I started a new chapter in Spain.  I started the company that I run today. I started out by selling Swedish style clogs. We, who grew up with clogs know what perfect shoes they are. They are so easy to put on, comfy even in hot weather and at the same time, they are really good at protecting your feet.

I started with 300 pairs and they sold out immediately. Then I had to stock up again. I started small and sold to friends and friend’s friends but then it really took off. At one point 400 shops in Spain and Portugal sold my clogs.

But then the global financial crisis hit and sales plummeted. In addition, e-shopping had started gaining momentum and that also influenced sales negatively. At about that time, I made the decision to open my own fashion boutique, Gunnel’s Fashion, in Marbella.

During the years, I have had the shop in several different places but since five years it is located here in Centro Plaza in Marbella. I believe in high quality, hand-picked international brands and some interesting material, such as machine washable silk. I also design clogs and sell in my own shop.

International clientele

Before going into business for myself I worked in sales and that has been helpful. I am also very social and love meeting people, both in the boutique and on fairs. Marbella is very international, so I get to meet interesting people from all corners of the world. I just love it when three generation from the same family enters the shop and they are all holding a bag when they leave. Seeing that, it is worth all my hard work.

It is a somewhat difficult with marketing sometimes, as the customers speak so many different languages. I mainly work with social media and that has worked well so far.

To run a business in Spain is not always plain sailing. The bureaucracy is ludicrous, and everything takes forever, and you need a license for pretty much everything. You always have to depend on yourself to get anything done. The business climate is different but when you have got used to it, it is manageable.

My new chapter in Spain

A absolutely love my life in Marbella and Spain but life does go up and down also in paradise. Just because the sun is out, doesn’t mean life doesn’t happen like in other places. A few years back my husband and I decided to go our separate ways. That was a really heavy period, and I had so start to rebuild myself again.

To get away from it all, I decided to go to Sweden for a holiday. On the plane back to Marbella I ended up sitting next to a man, Michael and he had to listen to all my sad stories. He told me he had recently moved to Marbella and that he is a golfer. I love to connect people and gave him the number of a friend of mine I thought he would get along with.

They got in touch with each other and decided to go and watch a game of rugby together and asked if I would come along also. When we met that time, Michael and I just clicked. Who would have thought? Love was waiting just around the corner when I was at my lowest point. Recently, we completed on a property here in Marbella and we are in the process of moving in. On my 50’s birthday party he proposed to me!

Soon, Michael and I are going on an exciting trip to the US where he is playing the PGA Tour Champions. . In 2005 he won US Open, he even beat Tiger Woods! A whole new world has opened up since I met Michael.

Now, I am off to train Ballet Workout and then I have to continue unpacking some of those boxes. I’ll probably take the dogs for a walk also. My next chapter in Spain has just begun.