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EU Alumna, Sigurbjörg Daníelsdóttir, on Founding a Sustainable Business

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Sigurbjörg is originally from Siglufjörður, a small town in the north of Iceland. She now resides in Stjørdal near Trondheim in Norway, with her husband Halldor Sigurdsson, who also studied at EU.

After graduating, Sigurbjörg gained experience in teaching and the hotel industry but finally found a passion for the health benefits linked with seaweed and decided to create her own supplement business, SjøBjørg AS. She has since gone on to find success, including winning an exciting sustainability award and finding an international project partner.

There is no question that Sigurbjörg strives to embrace an all-around healthy lifestyle, enjoying yoga and meditation along with celebrating Norway’s natural landscapes and making the most of her tranquil surroundings.

It was a pleasure to meet with Sigurbjörg and learn about her path to becoming an entrepreneur.

Could you tell us about your journey to starting your own business?

My husband and I studied in the US and then we went to EU in Switzerland together. After we graduated, we made an agreement that we would move to wherever the first one got a job. His work led us to the countryside in Iceland, where he served as a GM in a seaweed factory. It was a very rural area lacking hotels and accommodations, so everyone visiting the factory stayed with us. There, I learned a lot about the different aspects of seaweed, and when Dr. Med. Janka Zalesakova invited me to a medical spa in Slovakia to learn about benefits of natural products including seaweed, I became captivated by it.

Fascinated with seaweed, I started taking seaweed powder and shared it with my friends and family who experienced positive effects. The idea struck me that encapsulating the seaweed would be a great solution, since swallowing powder can be unpleasant. I didn’t do anything about it at the time, but later we moved to the Norwegian coastal islands which are abundant with seaweed, and I felt an undeniable calling to pursue my vision!

Starting the business, my husband and our children helped me out with the website and other technical things. In 2019 we went to the Eco Life exhibition in Sweden and our product won the award for Best New Sustainable Product! We made connections with distributors in other counties, and after the pandemic we started working with an international partner and have been cooperating with some of the biggest research centers in Norway. It’s very exciting!

I’ve always been interested in helping people improve their wellbeing. I think it is fascinating how you can use something from nature to improve your health or make you feel better.

What health benefits are associated with seaweed?

Seaweed is loaded with bioactive components, vitamins and minerals. Customer reviews cite

improved gut health and better digestion, hormone balance, hair and nails, better sleep, fewer sugar cravings. Furthermore, seaweed’s natural iodine boosts their overall energy, even their libido.

Why do you think supplements are so popular these days?

I think people are just doing all they can to improve their health and immunity. It seems to be a trend that people are going back to nature and being mindful of what they are consuming. We know that we need to change and improve our lifestyles by slowing down and reconnecting with our environment.

How are you able to keep your product sustainable?

Our capsules are vegan and come without any fillers, which was very hard to come by when I started out. Also, we wanted our packaging to be environmentally friendly and therefore our packaging is all made from paper. We are always looking for new ways to improve our sustainability, it is an ongoing process.

What are the main skills and concepts that you learned at EU that have helped you in your career?

EU’s diverse international business curriculum and marketing courses provided valuable insights. Also, it was really useful to hear the professors’ stories and experiences from the business world.

I especially remember Professor Charnaud and his marketing classes, he told us many great stories.

The program covered a little bit of everything related to international business, so I’ve definitely taken that with me and used those skills to establish my own company.

Do you have any advice for current students who want to start their own business?

Yes. Follow your heart. Do what you love and love what you do!

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