Business plan

How Matilda Djerf built a fashion empire without a business plan

  • Matilda Djerf, 25, is a business owner and influencer with over 2.7 million followers on Instagram.
  • In 2019, she and her boyfriend decided to launch Djerf Avenue without a business plan.
  • Since then, the couple have turned what was once their stampede into a business worth millions.

Matilda Djerf realized she was destined to become an entrepreneur while scraping salmon scales.

Djerf told Insider that when she was younger she struggled to get a job at a fish shop.

She prepared extensively for her first day on the job and spent hours the night before studying YouTube videos on how to slice fish so that when her boss asks if she can fillet one, she can say, “Yes, I can.”

But over time at work, Djerf said she grew frustrated with what she saw as a lack of innovation from those above her.

“They would still like to do everything in such a traditional way,” she said. “Whenever I came up with new ideas, it was always like, ‘No, that’s what we usually do.’ So I just realized it’s not for me.”

She pointed to her early career experience as proof that she had long had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to be her own boss.

Meet Matilda Djerf, the influencer

Such a good memory of his youth spent in a fishmonger might surprise some, given who Djerf has become.

Speaking to Insider by phone from her immaculate office in Stockholm, the 25-year-old influencer comes across as glamorous, stylish and incredibly well-groomed.

Additionally, Djerf is one of the most recognizable faces on social media, with over 2.7 million Instagram followers and over 1.2 million TikTok followers.

Over the years, Djerf has inspired countless TikTok tutorials on how to effortlessly recreate his bouncy hair, à la Farrah Fawcett – at the time of writing, 13.8 billion videos appear on the platform under the search “Matilda Djerf hair”.

Djerf and his dog Rufus.

Djerf and his dog Rufus.

Courtesy of Avenue Djerf

His social media presence and ability to predict trends has gradually gained wider media attention over the years.

In September, The Cut credited Djerf with the reason ballet flats are back in fashion. And in August, Elle Magazine described her as synonymous with the effortlessly cool Scandi-core aesthetic.

Obviously, Djerf, who was born and raised in Borås, a small town in western Sweden, is no ordinary influencer.

A fashion brand is born

A post shared by MATILDA DJERF (@matildadjerf)

As Djerf’s social media grew and she received more opportunities to collaborate with brands in Sweden, she had a moment of enlightenment in 2019.

“That’s when I told Rasmus that I would like to create something on my own and have full control,” Djerf told Insider.

She is now the creative director of her eponymous fashion brand, Djerf Avenue, which she launched with her boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Rasmus Johansson.

“It was a shot in the dark. We kind of felt like it could either be a success or a complete failure.”

There’s something to be said for Djerf’s initial doubts about launching his own brand; she and Johansson had no goals, expectations or even a business plan.

The couple initially wanted to earn money so they could travel.

“We said to ourselves, ‘OK, if we get to this level in five years, it will be a secondary thing,'” she said. “‘We can, you know, live and travel. It’ll be fun.'”

Djerf said she could never have predicted how far she would go; it was a bet. But quickly, she says, Djerf Avenue began to exceed their expectations. And three years later, she and Johansson, who is now the label’s CEO, can safely say that their bets have paid off.

Although she hasn’t confirmed her earnings to Insider, Djerf Avenue’s success is well documented. In 2021, Vogue reported the brand made $8 million in sales, and The Tab estimates its earnings to be between £1 million and £5 million, or around $1.15 million to $5.76 million.

Accomplishing what she has takes hustle and bustle, she told Insider. Djerf said his working days could last up to 2 p.m. She said one of her top priorities was managing a team of 20 employees in Sweden and a team of six in New York.

“Nobody tells you how long it takes just to talk to everyone in the office or how to be a good boss,” she said. “Managing people is such a time-consuming task.”

Know its value

As her reputation as one of TikTok’s most recognizable beauty and fashion influencers grows, Djerf said her ethical approach to the fashion industry hasn’t changed.

Djerf said she trusts her moral compass, which guides her business decisions.

Djerf at work packing clothes for customers.

Djerf at work packing clothes for customers.

Courtesy of Avenue Djerf

She has always maintained that Djerf Avenue is a “safe space” for her customers, whom she calls Djerf Angels, regardless of their appearance.

She said the people who model the clothes featured on the website are genuine customers and none of the photographs have been retouched.

And she told Insider that fans would never catch her at fashion week because fashion shows tend not to represent size diversity.

“I know what I’m doing is so good,” she told Insider. “I know I sit on so much knowledge and so much passion, and Djerf Avenue is what it is today because I do so much of it.”

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