Fika /fēka/ in Swedish custom, a break from activity during which people drink coffee, eat cakes, and relax with others1
Fika is a mindset. It’s a way of living slowly and enjoying the simple things life has to offer. Swedes take one or two breaks during their day. They drink coffee and eat pastries with whoever is around them. Fika is an opportunity, a reason if you will, to slow down and enjoy the moment with anyone and everyone. It’s not as much of a coffee break as it is connecting with someone and cultivating a relationship. Fika truly is the art of connection and relationship. This past year, everyone is less connected and separated. Now more than ever is when we as humans need to build connections and relationships with others. Fika is an excuse to connect with people, a reason to open your house to friends and family. It’s a custom in our society to be constantly busy, rarely sitting back to enjoy life happening right before your eyes. Fika encourages one to slow down, take a deep breath, and just be.
Robert and Krista Schnell, owners of FikaTime, both spent their childhoods exploring the great state of Alaska. The accessibility of the wilderness in Alaska is indescribable. Every weekend the couple is outside, hiking, skiing, backpacking, you name it. The outdoors is a place to recharge, a place to breathe in fresh air and be present in the moment with minimal distractions.
What is your favorite thing about living in Alaska?
[Krista] We love the accessibility of the outdoors. We can drive five minutes and be in the Chugach mountains, and trust us, we don’t take that for granted. In Alaska we have access to true wilderness. Both of us recharge in the outdoors and so Alaska is a good match for us.
The two of them took a vacation in January of 2020, just before COVID-19 hit. At that time Krista was working nights and Robert days. They were on opposite schedules and felt like they were running on overdrive. They were looking at their schedules and the next six months of their lives were already booked. Overwhelmed, Krista began to research what rest really looked like. She was passionate about slowing down and needed to find a way to incorporate Fika. Then ironically coronavirus hit and just like that all of their plans vanished.
What inspired you to start FikaTime?
[Robert] Each year we choose a word to symbolize our goals for that particular year. For the year 2020 our word was margin. In the Fall of 2020 we began to incorporate margin into our lifestyle. We knew something needed to change in our busy lives. On a date one afternoon while paddle boarding on Fire Lake we began talking about how fun it would be to own a bakery or a brick & mortar coffee shop. Then we started talking cardamom buns… and FikaTime was born.
What are cardamom buns?
[Krista] Cardamom buns are my most favorite pastry that my mom bakes. She made them quite frequently while I was growing up. Cardamom is an iconic flavor in Sweden. A cardamom bun is similar to a cinnamon roll, but not as sweet and tastes more like chai. It’s a very flavorful pastry; light enough to enjoy with your morning coffee. Unfortunately, they’re not gluten free or vegan, but they are free range buns! *Robert jokingly chimed in*
[Robert] Our friends ask us to make cardamom buns all of the time. Our neighbors are starting to talk about them… people don’t even know who we are and they’re talking about FikaTime!
Fika was a part of Krista’s childhood but as an adult she hadn’t incorporated into her life. “My parents were always really good about enjoying the simple things in life. My mom was very hospitable throughout my childhood. We always had Family Fika, but as a kid I never thought much of it.” During the beginning of the pandemic Krista’s parents invited her over to their house for coffee and cardamom buns. “I went to visit my parents and found the afternoon to be so restful. I was happy to just be. I felt physically restless with my job and in that moment I realized I needed to incorporate Fika into my life.”
How do you incorporate Fika into your lives?
[Krista] We have started to learn more about how to incorporate Fika into our lives. We have a strong community of friends that are cheering for us through the good and bad. It is hard to find a strong group of individuals that truly know you. We take our cardamom buns and coffee with us on our adventures, which allows us to take the time while we are outside to enjoy the moment. We have realized that Fika is not a destination, but rather a continuous journey.
What are your long-term business goals?
[Krista] We hope to one day open a brick and mortar coffee shop, selling other Swedish pastries. We want to create a place for people to gather and connect; creating more than just a coffee shop. We want to create a place to fika.
[Robert] In a world full of negativity, we want to spread positivity. We want to be encouraging and a positive voice to those surrounding us. You will notice our theme if you find us on Instagram: @fikatimeak or on Facebook: Fikatimeak. Our goal is to be real and authentic and we try to never take ourselves too seriously.
What have you learned from starting a small business?
[Krista] When we first had this idea and took the steps to get the business license, I was fearful of failing. As a result of my fear we almost didn’t go through with this business venture. Throughout this journey, I am giving myself permission to try and realizing that failure is okay. Failure can be an opportunity and I accept that I do not have to be perfect. Once I was able to loosen my hold on perfectionism, I was able to open so many more opportunities for myself and Robert and our business. We had never started a business and it has been an adventure so far. There is so much work on the front end that you never really think about, such as branding, marketing, and referrals. We are just so grateful for the people that are joining us and supporting us through this process and journey. We have received so much support from other small business owners, especially women. They’ve all had an abundance of encouragement and I love that we can support of there business owners and our community. I would say this experience has been pleasantly surprising.
- Oxford Dictionary, https://www.oed.com