How Matilda Djerf Built a Fashion Empire With No Business Plan



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

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

Djerf told Insider that when she was younger, she had fought hard to secure a job in a fish shop.

She prepared extensively for her first day of work and spent hours the night before studying YouTube videos on how to slice fish so that when her boss asked if she could filet one, she could say: “Hell yeah, I can.”

But as time on the job went on, Djerf said she became frustrated with what she saw as a lack of innovation from the people above her.

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

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

Meet Matilda Djerf, the influencer

Such a fond memory of her youth spent in a fish shop might surprise some, given who Djerf has become.

Speaking to Insider over the phone from her pristine office in Stockholm, the 25-year-old influencer comes across as glamorous, stylish, and incredibly put together.

Not only that, 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 recreate her effortlessly bouncy, Farrah Fawcett-esque hair — at the time of writing, 13.8 billion videos come up on the platform under the search “Matilda Djerf hair.”

Djerf and her dog Rufus.

Djerf and her dog Rufus.

Courtesy of Djerf Avenue



Her social-media presence and ability to forecast trends gradually caught the attention of wider media over the years.

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

Clearly, Djerf, who was born and raised in Borås, a small town in western Sweden, is no run-of-the-mill influencer.

A fashion brand is born

A post shared by MATILDA DJERF (@matildadjerf)

 

As Djerf’s social-media following increased and she received more opportunities to collaborate with brands in Sweden, she had a light-bulb moment in 2019.

“That’s when I told Rasmus I would love to create something on my own and have full control,” Djerf told Insider, speaking of her boyfriend and high-school sweetheart, Rasmus Johansson.

She’s now the creative director of her eponymous fashion brand, Djerf Avenue, which she started with Johansson.

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

There’s something to be said about Djerf’s initial doubts about launching her own brand; she and Johansson didn’t have goals, expectations, or even a business plan. 

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

“We were like, ‘OK, if we get up to this level in five years, it’ll be a side thing,’” she said. “‘We’ll be able to, you know, live and travel. It’ll be fun.’” 

Djerf said she could’ve never predicted how far she’d go; it was a gamble. But quickly, she said, Djerf Avenue began exceeding their expectations. And three years on, she and Johansson, who is now the label’s CEO, can safely say their bets paid off.

Though she declined to confirm her income to Insider, the success of Djerf Avenue is well-documented. In 2021, Vogue reported the brand was making $8 million in sales, and her sales revenue in 2022 is expected to be around $22 million, the New York Times reports.

Accomplishing what she has takes hustle, she told Insider. Djerf said her workdays could last up to 14 hours. She said that one of her main priorities is managing a staff of 20 employees in Sweden and a staff of six in New York.

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

Knowing her worth

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 finds confidence in her moral compass, which guides her through business decisions.

Djerf at work packaging clothing for customers.

Djerf at work packaging clothing for customers.

Courtesy of Djerf Avenue



She’s always maintained that Djerf Avenue is a “safe space” for her customers, who she refers to as Djerf Angels, no matter their appearance.

She said that the people who model the clothes shown on the website are actual customers, and that none of the photographs have been retouched.

And she told Insider that fans won’t ever catch her at fashion week because fashion shows tend not to represent a diversity of sizes.

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





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