Today, Sara Laine at En Sueco – a magazine on Costa del Sol, Spain writes about our story, published in the November issue pages 36-37.
Since the story is in Swedish, we wanted to translate the story here for you. Photos are taken by Sara Laine and Joakim/Victoria Ahlén.

Vilostrada article by Sara Laine in En Sueco November 2015
Vilostrada
– a lifestyle brand and a social entrepreneurial company

Social entrepreneurship, sustainability and helping others, three trendy words. And many also live by these words more or less: for example giving money to charity organization for children’s right to and education around the world, using less plastic or eat ecological food. But in Frigiliana, there is a family that dedicated their lives to it, and founded Vilostrada.

By Sara Laine

Live to Love the Road

Vilostrada is the story about Family Ahlén, who loves life and children, and who dedicated all their time to it, hence the name: VIva, LOve, STRADA – Live to Love the Road – in other words live to love the road you are on! Vilostrada was founded by Victoria and Joakim, mother and father in the family, to combine their lifestyle with teaching their children, Maj and Lucas, and others to help, build and keep a sustainable lifestyle and to grow the entrepreneurial spirit in them

Two different backgrounds

Victoria is a true social entrepreneur and from age 7, she knew she would make the world a better place. With a grandfather who worked at the gigantic Finnish company Nokia and another grandfather who raw an sawmill, her blood is thick with the entrepreneurial spirit. She is an educated journalist from the US and loves telling stories.

Joakim on the other hand is a computer nerd who loves adventures and challenges. His years at school was spent at Chalmers in Göteborg and even though studying theory, he loves creating and bettering everyone else’s possibilities.
In Sweden, Joakim worked like most people do; Monday to Friday 8 – 5 pm. Victoria on the other side, never wanted to work for anyone else and always ran her own business. Their dream to move grew with the number of trips they made. First , they thought Sri Lanka, but after a visit to the Spanish south coast and time spent in Morocco, the new location was settled. The love for the country on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, and as Victoria has explained it as a feeling of finally coming home. In Morocco, she found a society where the Berber philosophy was consistent with hers – “we all come from the same tree”. Choosing Costa del Sol has two simple explanations – moving within EU and of course the vicinity to Morocco. And when they moved, Vilostrada was born, the lifestyle brand, a social entrepreneurial company that in its webshop and selected stores in Sweden and markets, sell fair traded Moroccan crafts. A company that can follow the family wherever they go in life.

 

Crafts from the blue city

The first Morocco trip in fall of 2013, went to Chefchaouen, a blue city in northern Morocco where they today trade with many artisans. The first thing Victoria and Joakim did when they got there was to ask their guide, who they met at the Nerja Sunday Market, if they could meet a social entrepreneur. They met Jaber El Hababi, a hotel owner with a huge passion for life and a big heart for children, ecology and sustainability. He showed them the city and many artisans. For a fair price, Victoria and Joakim bought as much crafts that could fit in the car and they decided to sell the goods in a webshop and share the stories (storytelling is Victoria’s speciality) about the artisans.

This is how Vilostrada started and the business grew more and more, and of course some of the profits, 10% go to the family run project Common Ground – a community project for entrepreneurship, innovation and knowledge about culture, sustainability and running a company in Morocco. Many of the proceeds go to support the family’s work to  help other’s on site in Morocco och of course to support the own family.

The fact is, the family with the move to Spain to the fullest invested in their lifestyle and they sold 75% of their belongings. A lifestyle and entrepreneurship that is about sustainability and of course includes the private consumption.

 

Children play a vital role in Vilostrada

But why does Victoria and Joakim all time speak about the family and the children when they meet En Sueco’s reporter at the eco market close to Viñuela? The answer is simple: the whole family is involved and they strive to teach the children sustainable lifestyle with entrepreneurship as a natural part of every day life. And when it comes to Maj and Lucas, today 7 and 10, they have reached far. This goes to show when the children first met the school children in Akerate School almost two years ago – it was Christmas Day, and the family was in the village when Maj and Lucas asked where all the kids where and they went to visit a school. It was raining and Maj’s first reaction was to to take her rain boots off and give them to a child with none, and Lucas he would involve his friends in Sweden to raise 500 SEK to buy light bulbs and fix electricity for the school.

 

Storytelling

At the eco market in Viñuela, Victoria and Joakim work each Saturday with their children and sell a selected number of goods bought during trips to Morocco. Among these are gorgeous pottery made by Aicha, colorful textiles and heart-shaped hooks by Abdellah Zrouidi. All the artisans behind the goods share a story that Vilostrada wants to share, both to make them more interesting but also to keep a part of the culture in the areas from where the crafts originate, hoping that the youth there will continue the craftsmanship and make a living at it, so that they do not disappear.  All to acknowledge the trade and the lives they help to grow.

 

Vilostrada is the family’s life

And Family Ahlén, what does their life look like apart from Vilostrada? The answer is that Vilostrada is their life, each and every day, apart from other photography and IT-jobs. They live life to the fullest and live in the moment. What happens tomorrow, they will find out. The children attend school of course but otherwise, they go with their parents. The line between spare time and worked does not exist, because Vilostrada is not a job, it is their lifestyle.

Read more about the Ahlén Family and their lifestyle project Vilostrada, what is is like running a company to help others, partners, the people behind the crafts and their stories, Common Ground, visit the webshop and lots more on their web: www.vilostrada.com

Read the original version here:
by Sara Laine at En Sueco – a magazine on Costa del Sol, Spain writes about our story, published in the November issue pages 36-37.