A B R O A D ~ Where we chat to New Zealanders living and creating overseas...
Today, we get to meet New Zealander Aimee Magne of Hope & Organic. Aimee (35) is lucky enough to divide her time between NZ and Sweden (more about that below). Aimee gave up a decade-long corporate career to follow her creative passions, re-training at an organic raw culinary school in the US. As well as being an exceptional food stylist, Aimee is a food and design photographer, shooting locally for the likes of Mavis & Osborne, Remix Magazine, Good Magazine, Ceres Organics, Storm & India Tea Sisters, Little Bird Organics, and Amber Armitage. Her work - under the brand Hope & Organic - is beautiful and we think she's definitely one to watch...
Tell us about what you do Aimee?
I capture beauty through photography with minimalist, organic styling. I also create raw food recipes. I'm a lover of modernism, the sea, handmade wares, organics, friends like family and clean design. My husband and I also have a business importing vintage Swedish bicycles to New Zealand.
Where do live and who do you live with?
Vasastan in Stockholm was our homebase between 2008 and 2013. We had a beautiful turn of the century apartment with 4 metre high ceilings, plain fir and oak herringbone wooden floors and a kitchen from the 70's (with turquoise cupboards), that was my haven. We moved back to New Zealand, but now we spend our NZ winters in Sweden - between Stockholm (where Fredrik’s brother has an apartment on Södermalm), the family farm on the island of Gotland and the west coast namely, Gothenburg and Stillingsön.
Stockholm, you so pretty
It is where my husband Fredrik is from. We met when he was studying in Auckland.
I love the distinct seasons, the sense of tradition, design, style and deep friendships I have made.
Tell us about your lifestyle in Sweden - how do you spend your weekends/downtime?
A typical weekend in Stockholm for me begins with a long run (around the island Djurgården or Kungsholmen) or with a vinyasa class at either Urban Om or Inbalance on Södermalm. When we lived in Vasastan, our local hangout was either Mellqvist kaffebar or a bohemian cafe Vurma.
Weekends are for all the breads
...and the coffee. This is the very cool What's The Deli, in Gothenburg
I stock up at my favourite organic shops (the new one being Paradiset), and walk around with my camera to my favourite parts of town (e.g. Nytorget), and shops (e.g. Hope, Sandqvist, Weekday or Grandpa).
There's no need for a car in Stockholm so we spend a lot of time on our feet or our bikes.
Preferred mode of transport = bike. Outside one of Aimee's fave design stores, Grandpa
Hope is one of the brands that inspired Aimee to leave corporate life and begin a creative career
More of Aimee's favourite brands and stores
During summer when we are more adventurous, we take a picnic and cycle far on our bikes, or we head out to the archipelago and enjoy nature.
I'm in your city/region: where should I go that maybe isn't on the typical tourist trail?
The archipelago outside Stockholm is magical. I would rent a cottage and just enjoy being isolated and in the moment. The most accessible island is Grinda and later in summer you can pick wild bilberries or chanterelle mushrooms.
Picking wild bilberries at Grinda island
Picnic on Grinda - wild chanterelle mushrooms on toast
Summer weekends spent swimming, sunning, and hanging with Family
(this is Aimee's bro in law Johan and nephew Willie)
(this is Aimee's bro in law Johan and nephew Willie)
Tell us about SteelHorse?
We import Stålhästen bicycles - vintage inspired Swedish bicycles that are designed by our friends Martin and Erik. The inspiration in the design is trusty old bikes that our grandparents rode. When we decided to make New Zealand our home base, we wanted to bring a piece of Sweden back with us - and Stålhästen seemed like the right fit.
We currently have 5 models which we sell online - classic 3 geared bicycles (in black and red), a 7 speed (cream), and a sport version that can be transformed into a fixie. On our latest trip we were inspired by the new styles in mint green and turmeric, so hopefully these will soon be a part of our range, as well as electric bikes which would make sense in hilly Auckland!
Tell us about your journey to starting and developing Hope & Organic?
The name Hope & Organic was inspired by a favourite fashion brand Hope Stockholm, as well as organic plant based foods, and the large part they play in my life. Hope & Organic symbolizes for me the time when I decided to make my hopes and dreams my everyday.
I was inspired to work with food, especially after attending Matthew Kenney Culinary, a plant-based cooking school with an emphasis on visual design. I had countless ideas, such as raw plant-based ice creams, kombucha, organic cold-pressed juices, and lunchbox subscriptions however a physical business didn't seem to be the right fit with our long-term goal of living in both New Zealand and Sweden.
Aimee styling dishes at a New Zealand Kinfolk event
A teeny sample of Aimee's food styling and photography
As the visual aesthetic of food was so important to me, I bought a camera and started a food styling and recipe blog. A friend saw my photos and asked me to be the food stylist for a local Kinfolk gathering, and from there I began working with other organic food and design brands.
Life seemed to be directing me behind the camera, and while my subjects have expanded beyond strictly photographing food, I like to think that my styling and approach remain close to my organic roots.
How do you make your businesses and routines of daily life work when splitting your time between Sweden and New Zealand?
For me, time in Sweden is about living in the moment and being inspired from a work perspective, so I am carefree and take each day with an open mind. This last trip has been a lot about photography and meeting brands that inspire us in the hope of establishing contacts to work with later down the track.
Tell us about the Summer House?
The summerhouse is located in Stillingsön (Orust), about 1.5 hours from Gothenburg. Fredrik's grandparents bought the original house there in the 50's, and since then a number of our cousins have acquired their own places in this little community. It is a very unique and special place - the houses have to be painted the same colour and many of them aren't usable during the winter.
Klevebacken summer house, styled by Aimee and Karolina
Snaps from Aimee's friend's home
On this recent trip (we just arrived back in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago) we stayed with Markus and Karolina, and Karolina and I had a project to style and photograph the house which they recently renovated.
Being in the countryside, the interior styling is comprised of inherited vintage pieces, classic Swedish textiles, hand woven rag rugs (trasmattor), brass candlesticks and indoor plants, mixed with modern. The blonde wooden floors are distinctly Scandinavian and Karolina's passion for the 50's shines through. There is even an outdoor wood fired stone oven, which we use to make bread and pizza (including cardamom flavoured dessert pizzas which we topped with wild raspberries!).
I like the feeling when I am travelling that I can just be. I'm just myself and my suitcase, and I become incredibly curious and openminded. I feel it's much easier to get in touch with my true creative vision without comparing myself to others or being influenced by trends and social media.
Aimee lives out of bags and in her summer sandals while in Sweden.
All photography by Aimee Magne, Hope & Organic
Hope & Organic website and portfolio / Instagram / Facebook
See our other
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Bridie Picot, homeware designer for Thing, living in New York
Emily L'Ami, LA-based owner of Bodha, design-lead wellness brand
Melbourne's Sara & Matt Johnston - founder of The Club of Odd Volumes