With titles such as ‘Vélochef’, ‘Sky runner’ and ‘Eat, Run, Enjoy’ the newly-started Gawell Publishing is beginning to make imprints on the outdoor world. WIMA interviewed CEO Charlotte Gawell after the company’s second book release this autumn.
One of the world’s most famous foot races is the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, UTMB, with 171 kilometres and more than 10 000 metres of elevation around the Mont Blanc massif. The small French mountain village Chamonix is the epicentre of this running event. This is the place where publisher Charlotte Gawell and Patrik Engström once met, working as ski bums in the 80’s. And this is the place where their common business, Gawell Publishing, had its book release of the new book “Eat, Run, Enjoy” during the UTMB-week.
The release was held in a local bookshop. Charlotte Gawell is proud when she talks about the people who were there. The author himself, chef and ultra-runner Billy White, together with the top ultra-running athletes Zach Miller, Courtney Dauwalter and Ida Nilsson who all are interviewed in the book. Miller, Dauwalter and Nilsson were also running in the UTMB races.
However this article will not be about the authors or the athletes. It will be about one of the two people behind the publishing company. It’s about Charlotte Gawell. When she was a child she had pictures of mountains on the walls.
She is at home in her flat in the central part of Stockholm when we talk on telephone. There are no mountains on the wallpaper but her passion for mountains is still burning. The city apartment is the home of Charlotte and Patrik. This is also the home of their business. Their children moved out a couple of years ago.
“Maybe the business is our new baby, Charlotte says with a thoughtful voice. At least it demands a lot of time and love.”
This autumn Gawell Publishing has released two new books on the outdoor theme.
“To give birth to a book is a long process but eventually the book is born. We have a release ceremony and then it is time to go to the next phase. This is actually when the thrill begins. The book needs to get out in the world.”
Charlotte loves all the challenges that she and the company are facing. She talks about the importance of networking and the work with selling the rights to the books to partners in different countries. The complexity of the task is what really drives her. Actually she was longing for something new in her career after 25 years as a photographer. The idea of starting a publishing company had been dwelling as a seed for a long time. Was it time to let it grow? Could it strike roots?
“I’ve been working with taking pictures for books for many years. As a photographer you work in media projects as a small piece in a larger puzzle. Being a freelancer is tough and sometimes lonely. Even if it might be a crazy idea to start a new publishing company in today’s changeable media landscape I have gotten the opportunity to work on a larger platform as a publisher. I can be part of different processes in a new way. It is very fulfilling.”
Ever since they first met, Charlotte and Patrik have shared the passion for mountains and of outdoor life. After Chamonix they hiked together in Nepal.
“Throughout the years we have both been working as professional photographers with different focus. And together with our children we are an eco-friendly family with an outdoor lifestyle” says Charlotte who is a hiker, skier and runner herself.
Five years ago Patrik did an editorial work together with Henrik Orre, the chef of the cyclist team Sky’s.
“Patrik was so excited. He told me that this was the thing to start with. Let’s produce a book! So we talked to Henrik. He liked the idea and he had faith in us. In 2015 it was time for ‘Vélochef – food for training and competition’ to leave the printing house, and a new book and a new publishing company was born.”
The publishing company has increased in size since then. Gradually.
“When you have a small company you learn by trial and error. It has been nice to let the business evolve in its own pace, says Charlotte who nowadays works full time in the company.”
“This year we have produced four new titles, last year we released two. Each title is a part of a wholeness. The outdoor concept is our niche. We want to add value and act in an international environment. The book Sky runner, from 2018, is now published in more than ten languages.”
Charlotte and Patrik are always looking for themes, titles and authors who can work in a bigger context and attract communities all over the world.
“We want to support an active outdoor lifestyle. From the beginning we didn’t think about a niche but we have found that this is important. And it’s amazing to find out that you can be even more creative when you have frames to work within.”
Is it also about adventures?
“Well, it is always fun with adventures. And a story about an adventure is often a good story. But I think that the outdoor theme is the key for us, not necessary the adventure. We also want to add value. It’s not only about selling books. It can be holding lectures or arrange meetings. We like to do nice things with nice people who shares the passion with us.”
How is it to run a business with your spouse?
“We are different as persons but are creative team together. I think that I am the one who is pushing on, I am brave and I start things. Patrik is a doer and the one who closes projects, he is also thoughtful and pushes the brake if necessary. We take the best decisions together and get the best ideas while we are outdoors. We do a lot of hiking and this way of living is very important for us. Patrik is also a dedicated cyclist. I run for fun but most of all I’m a hiker.”
It was on running feet that Charlotte met Emelie Forsberg, the author of ‘Sky runner’.
“This was also in Chamonix, this time during the Marathon du Mont Blanc-event. I saw her at the prize ceremony. She seemed to be so inspiring. Later I contacted her to ask if she wanted to collaborate, and so we did.”
As a follow-on, the latest book at Gawell Publishing is Moonvalley Diaries by Emelie Forsberg together with two other Swedish elite ultra-running athletes. Ida Nilsson and Mimi Kotka. The three women are founders of a new brand: Moonvalley. Their company produce and sell sports nutrition products. Emelie Forsberg and Ida Nilsson also train and live in Moonvalley on the west coast of Norway .
The release party was held in Rosendals Garden in Stockholm. Rosendals Garden is a driver of the farm-to-fork concept and focuses on for example sustainability. This is where Billy White, the author of the book first mentioned in this article, works as a chef.
“It was a delicate place for the celebration of the book ‘ Moonvalley Diarys’, side by side with ‘Eat, Run, Enjoy’. Patrik and I are firmly established when it comes to sustainability and we loved to be at Rosendals Garden. ”
What is Gawell’s next project?
“We will reveal our plans for 2020 later. Except for planning next year, we are also working with a serie of guidebooks that hopefully can be launched in 2021.