Welum's founder, Brit Kongstad, is an inspiring entrepreneur who possesses tireless, engaging energy, and she embodies the global spirit she has incorporated into the company. Kongstad was born in Korea, but was adopted at age three by a Danish family and raised in Randers, Denmark. On paper, she is the most educated woman in Denmark, holding diplomas in marketing, sales, administration and organisation, bachelor's degrees in art, philosophy, fashion design and exports and a master's degree in business administration. She has also studied hypnotherapy. Kongstad has worked as a purchase manager and as a production manager for several international fashion and information technology companies. She is also a full-time assistant professor of Marketing studying a PhD.
I sat down with Brit Kongstad to find out why she started Welum and what her vision is for the company's future.
1. Why did you start Welum?
Welum started two and a half years ago at New York fashion week 2014. I was traveling in U.S. branding ZUKHA, my jewel brand in the making. I worked at that time as Editor-in-chief for a male magazine, but was so surprised that nobody actually cooperated across borders when we all were there for the same reason. We had a common language--creativity--and a human need to get inspired with something different. Also there was a lot of creativity which was not displayed because of the lack of promotion. “Hidden gold,” is what I called it, which was exciting and was innovative, but without the ability to shine in a very commercial industry.
When I returned from my trip, I ended my job as editor-in-chief. I collected the people I knew who had the necessary abilities and who wanted to get started with this project together with me. We started very primitively, with a website only for publication of articles as an online magazine and we needed a name for the magazine. It was Christmas and I was sitting and playing with the words. I felt inspired by the purpose of the magazine and Welum popped up. “We” for community and cooperation and “Lum” for luminize and inspiration . Hence, WELUM was born. I checked on the Internet and found that Welum was a Polish word for cheering, and so the name made good sense as this was a cheer to get all creativity and innovation in the world displayed.
2. Why do you think Welum is important?
Before I went to the U.S ., I made Ironman Melbourne in the spring of 2014. I quit my job and prepared to travel in Australia, China, Tibet and Nepal. It was a spiritual trip for me in many ways. I have done the Ironman six times, and was, at that time, on the Danish AG championship team, but something changed on my trip. Fighting physically as a triathlete and being determined was something I knew also from my work, but to actually focus on others, aside from me and to see the beauty in respect and inspiration and make others grow, created happiness in all aspects. Seeing how differences in every individual and the results of tempting all the senses by creativity, and how this created a kind of mindfulness, this was powerful. To me, the sum of differences, the ability of transforming thinking into creations and the search for change that would be sustainable and create happiness and transparency for the future were driving forces. My biggest learning was that no matter where I was, it had nothing to do with nationality or gender. We all spoke a common language, which made people meet in an inspiring spot without interference of interpretations. We all had a common interest to create something together and evolve and change in a good way.
3. Why is Welum a global company?
It cannot be anything else than global. When looking at me, one sees I’m Asian, but I was raised in Denmark. As I normally say: You look through your eyes not at you, so your surroundings sometimes try to define you from how you look, but you do not see it. Through work and holidays I have travelled around the world, either as backpacker or as business woman and everywhere I meet the same people. We have the same set of thoughts when you strip off the filter of convictions. This is how mindfulness, innovation and creativity exist. We sometimes forget that.
4. What do you hope or foresee for the company's future?
Welum is the playground for all who want to expand their knowledge and get inspired to also share their talents and thoughts. Welum is the future in many ways – the ability to share, get inspired and create something new together. This is the whole foundation of Welum. We need to assure that we can apply different windows. By integrating text, pictures, films, forums and in all ways to make a meeting spot for everyone in order to connect everyone. This is a running development and there is no ending in the future. We need to ensure that we cannot only give the tools to expand creativity but also to connect creators all around the world. As more, we can connect as better.
5. Who can get involved with Welum and how?
Everybody can get involved in Welum as viewer or creator and display creativity. But we also have the responsibility to ensure that what we display has a certain quality. Quality as a word is hard to explain, but we have the obligation to ensure that it has a high level of inspirational value. This is also the reason why we created the community, so everybody has free options to show the world what is on their minds in regards to creativity. Different spots at Welum can show different kinds of work. Everybody is a creator. It is just a question about getting inspiration and having the right set of tools. That is what Welum can provide. Our goal is to make the world more connected and happier, more creative and inspiring and we can only do and become these things by working together.
denmark / entrepreneur / Fashion designer / ironman / professor