Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A SUMMER OF A SPY (getting inspired in England, Estonia and Finland)

My double life as a Finnish woman living in the States, traveling home every summer, gives me great opportunities to learn about indie design in different parts of the world. Where ever I go, the goal is to see if the city has their "young indie designer stores" ready to be explored. This summer I have found some definitive niceness and cool surprises in a small town called Evesham in England and in Tallinn which is the capital of Estonia. And the adventure goes on here in Helsinki as we speak! I google "indie design", "young designers", "local indie crafts/fashion", "sustainable fashion", "slow fashion" or "indie fashion store" and just try to find as many leeds as possible. Sometimes the internet doesn't help, and the best way turns out to be the sweetest: just walking around the town and asking people. Often finding one store or a studio helps in finding more, since indie designers seem to be generous about telling about their co-designers!
The pink and yellow is a shirt that wanted to move in with me from Evesham, England. The store where it used to live was a sweet little co-op of many (8 if I remember right) different style indie crafters or vintage lovers. This particular shirt was made by a beautiful lady who happened to be in the store as we visited. I love the bright colors and the fact that she makes it all out of scrap pieces, left overs or second hand fabrics, and uses tricot, like me! Also, the simple arches just make it somehow very pretty.

The black and grey is a super stylish shirt from Reet Aus, an Estonian designer who's work is just perfectly interesting and beautiful. She has a clear style to her designs, she uses industrial waste in her production, and is basically making fashion in a way that makes sense for the earth. She did her doctoral research about "the possibilities of implementing upcycling within the fashion industry and mass production" and so, is a total rock star. Now she's using what she learner in her own company and design work, and spreading the word to other designers and companies. This is what we need in the world instead of all the scary, cheap, poisonous fast fashion brands! Be sure to check out reetaus.com for some style and inspirational reading. Hurray!!



Monday, May 29, 2017

PANTS WITH BIG STORIES

During the ten or so years of making these funny pants out of used tees, there's been a couple of really memorable moments that make me feel extra lucky, happy and proud of my work. Used tees aren't a thing of great financial value, or usually considered as a fine arts/crafts material. For some people it might even seem too weird to have pants made of tees that somebody else has already used. Unless that somebody is a person you love, or in this case, somebody you really loved and who no longer is with us. Then, the value actually is incredibly big, and the material turns into something irreplaceable and beautiful. 

A couple of years ago a dear friend was cleaning up her late husband's closet and getting rid of some of the clothes that used to belong to him. Some clothes could be passed on to friends, some given to the thrift stores, but what to do with a bunch of t-shirts left from a number of marathons that he participated in? You know what happened, right? Yes, she asked me to make pants out of them. Two pairs for her and one pair for their daughter. I remember clearly how my friend was saying that "these shirts don't have any value - except for me". Pretty. Sweet.

This spring another wonderful lady came to me asking if I would be able to make a pair of pants for her, and that she might have something I could use as a material. We met at my studio, and with her she had a black t-shirt full of random, different color paint stains. That t-shirt used to belong to her adult son, who passed away more that 10 years ago. He was an artist and he would use this shirt while painting. You can clearly see some places where he has swiped and cleaned his fingers, and it makes that material crazy unique and super special. 
I know I'm not healing anybody's cancer or preventing wars from happening, but I definitely feel like what I'm doing is positive and important. And that feeling keeps me going during those moments of doubt and insecurity! This is about love, respect and being real.

Monday, March 20, 2017

SPRING BUSINESS

New retail shops, new shows and new products, and of course the kickstarted pants will make sure I'll be busy the whole spring! And I'm so glad it's happening! 
Here's a pile of baby and kid size pants in progress. Colorful, circusy, spring-happy. And way faster to make than the big adult ones. :) These little pants are made of the scraps that I make while cutting pieces for the adult pants. That way I can be faster with both - constructing adult pants of tiny pieces like this would take forever and create too many seams, but for kid size they give me the chance to combine the colors nicely. 

Then, one might ask, what happens to the scrap pieces left behind from making the baby pants.. Well, they get put inside the mediation pillows!! And hurray, we're making close to zero waste! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

MAKERS SUMMIT in Greenville, SC.


Sometimes it happens that a girlfriend decides to celebrate her birthday in a conference for makers and small business owners. And what can you do? The price was pretty high and the way there some hours of driving, but something told me this is what I need to do! And yep, it was awesome. So inspiring, so interesting and so well organized. The speakers were great - super open and clear about their experiences and advice. The place was impressive and the schedule was well-thought. And the treats for breakfast and break times were incredible. All in alignment with the event theme, using local small businesses and cooperation. Very cool. 
I wrote down pages and pages of notes and thoughts and ideas that now, a couple of days after, feel like little treasures that I can enjoy and take advantage of. Thoughts about how it feels to be a creative business owner, and how it sometimes can be overwhelming. How surrounding yourself with people who believe in you makes all the difference. How talking, sharing experiences and getting to know more small business owners will help everybody. And how healthy and fun it is to do it in real life instead of only online. How so many of us struggle with similar challenges, and how that's ok and normal. And how having the vocabulary to talk about business and social media and brand stuff helps a bunch. And how inspired, determent and happy I feel after a full weekend like that!! Thank you Makers Summit Greenville!




We did it!!! Kickstarted super successfully :D

It's a small step for he human kind, but a fairly big one for me!! Thank you everybody involved in the project. The ones sharing the links, telling a friend, helping with the making of the video and the site, and backing the project, you're super.


Friday, February 24, 2017

WHO MADE MY CLOTHES?!

I just got some awesome mail today! The fashion revolution actives have made a beautiful, smart and interesting fanzine (magazine) with lots of cool art and important information. I'm so happy there are people who truly want to make a difference and do it with such style!! Thank you! 

Having a small business that's all about sustainability, second hand, upcyckling and making a positive impact on the surrounding people and the world can sometimes feel kind of.. lonely. And getting this kind of material to read and enjoy just makes me feel so inspired! It makes me feel like I'm on the right track and that I really want to put my energy into giving more info about the ways of making stuff happen sustainably. Because that's what it is. I can't make somebody change their mind about what to buy or how to choose, but I can tell about how I make clothing and how it's pretty different from the mainstream clothing production.

The thing that the fashion revolution movement is doing (like asking Who made my clothes?), is trying to get people curious about their own clothes. When you wear a pair of jeans every day, or have a favorite hoodie or a dress that you really love, you might be interested in learning more about it too. Where did the material come from? Who printed or dyed the fabric? Who designed it, who did the sewing? Do the people involved get paid ok and is their working environment safe? How about the effects on the nature? 

That's already a lot of info, and that can be super difficult to know or find out. It's usually a pretty complicated system of big companies and long world wide supply chains, that even the company in charge is not totally aware of. So by asking Who made my clothes from the companies, we make clear that we care and want to make sure there's no funny business going on while making our favorite clothes! It doesn't take that long to find out the brand name, find the "contact us" link on their site, and type in a simple question like "Is there info about your companies supply chains and the manufacturers working conditions somewhere on your site? I am interested in buying a product, but want to make sure it is made in a way that respects all the people involved."


"Transparency means that companies know who make their clothes, where they are made and under what conditions, and they share this information with the public." -Fanzine #001 - Money fashion, power. Fashion revolution. 2017.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A WORKING MOM!

Today, coming to the studio and unpacking my things to start the day, I found a little toy piggy in my laptop bag. It made me smile and inspired me to write down thoughts about starting and running a  business while also being a mom of an almost 5-year-old and a 9-month-old. Of course mostly it's a battle against time and energy, but today it made me smile. And  I want to be better in taking it easier, or at least trying to be a more relaxed lady. Even with never having enough time to do my thing!

The mornings are the craziest for me with packing up and getting ready to go, in time. Remembering to take everything everybody needs, often is a bit too much, and something like my own breakfast or lunch gets left behind. I'm getting better in making sure there is a little snack stash at the studio!
Lunch for the school, dance class stuff (even the little hair ties), baby food, diapers and such, change of clothing, baby carrier, phone, keys, wallet, computer (and the cord), note book, calendar - check. Today I even got a mason jar of coffee to go from home, thanks to the dear husband :D
The most challenging thing is not having enough time. That might be the case for all the small business owners though. Managing the hours of the day, making sense into deciding between actual crafting, getting the materials, doing the paper work, doing the online marketing, keeping up the social media presence. Right now the baby is sleeping, so I can write this. But I can't use the sewing machine, especially not the serger, that would wake him up which would make working pretty slow.

This spring will be interesting in many ways. The baby is getting older and I feel like and can leave him with his dad or grand parents or a baby sitter for the morning or afternoon, or sometimes even for the whole day. Which will totally make things clearer for my studio time. I'll be so fast and efficient!! Until then, I'll be happy, and yes so not stressed, to take breaks for changing, feeding, bouncing, walking to nap, and making sure no pin needles are eaten from the floor ;)
The spring is also very exciting with the Kickstarter project starting out so well, and with planning some new shows around the area. If you haven't already seen the Kickstarter project, check it out from here!