My Hometown: Chrystelle Eriksberger’s Stockholm
How would you measure a ‘happy’ city? “It’s very freeing here; it’s an open-minded place for people to explore their styles, personality and to find their own identity,” says Chrystelle Eriksberger of Stockholm, the city she has lived in all her life – and which consistently ranks among the world’s happiest to live in. As the content creator and founder of inclusive modelling agency Meltdown Management explains, “Swedish people have this big curiosity for everything modern and new; they’re very adaptable. You’re encouraged to push the boundaries, whether it’s fashion, sexual orientation… everything. Stockholm might seem small but we have everything we need. There’s this special feeling of living in a ‘small-big’ city that has this unique closeness to nature.”
Such attributes are luminous for a city where daylight is sparse for most of the year. “For nine months it’s dark and cold,” says Eriksberger, who grew up with her parents and four siblings on Lidingö, an island in the inner Stockholm archipelago, and now lives with her husband and two children in the city’s northern suburb, Sollentuna. “But then we get sun from early morning to late nights for three months and everything comes alive. As people, we can reflect that tug of warmth and cold in our identities: the warm side is very open, but I like the cold days because it makes us more alert and hungry to learn new things. Those long winters push you to be creative. You can’t just wait for the sun to come back, you have to be inventive.”
Eriksberger, who started out in the fashion industry as a model, credits the city for influencing her career. “I’ve always been interested in fashion thanks to my parents – they’re originally from Congo, which has a big ‘getting dressed’ culture. Stockholm has encouraged this too; it’s a super well-dressed place. Stores such as Cos, Arket and H&M reflect the minimalistic style, and Stockholm Fashion Week has led to more styles and attracts influencers from all over.”
“It feels like a global city, even though we’re way up in the north,” Eriksberger adds. “That shapes us in a different way. There’s a lot of beauty in being a diverse place.” Indeed, it’s what led to her spotting a gap in the market. “In 2017, I noticed more influencers and models from different cultures and backgrounds here and thought there should be a hub where clients could reach these amazing talents. Then, in 2020 when everything happened with George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, I felt I had to do something now.” The result was FYE Management: a modelling agency with 150 diverse Sweden-based models, which took off during the pandemic when the country remained relatively open in terms of restrictions. “The agency was a huge success, but it grew too big for me. I missed the personal contact with clients so I left to start a smaller one [Meltdown Management]. It feels more familiar; more me.”
Ultimately, Eriksberger credits Stockholm for shaping her. “Everybody is welcome to be who they are [here],” she says. “You know that feeling of never getting lost, because you can’t in a city that you know by heart? When travelling, we chase that sense of something new and exciting, but I love the freedom and security this city gives me.”
Chrystelle Eriksberger’s Top 5 Things To Do In Stockholm…
- Mäster Anders – Opened in 1692, it’s one of Sweden’s oldest restaurants and has that classic bistro look with tiles and Thonet chairs. I always book it for my birthday.
- Lilla Baren at Riche – It’s my favourite bar, I’ve been going since I was 18. It’s fun and lively with whimsical interiors.
- Ellery Beach House – I love a great spa and this is my favourite: a hotel, spa and (Stockholm’s first) beach club just outside the city on the island where I grew up. It’s very dear to me.
- Island boat trips – If you come to Stockholm, you have to soak up the archipelago by boat, especially during the summer when everything is blooming. My favourite islands to visit are Möja, Utö and Vaxholm.
- People-watching in the trendy corners of Södermalm – specifically Smålandsgatan. During summer, they close it off from cars, hang big flower arrangements and everything comes alive, with restaurants and bars opening onto the streets.
Lisa Harvey is an editor and writer based in London, who has written for titles including Stylist, BBC, The Guardian, Time Out and Glamour