A couple of years ago, textile industry entrepreneur Niina Nuorala from Pyhäjoki had an idea. She decided to harness her creativity and love for handicraft to design products that would replace the disposable plastic items we use in our everyday lives.
The final result was NIEKO, a company that manufactures and sells ecological and sustainable consumer goods. The ethical products are manufactured in Finland, whenever possible.
“The work doesn’t even feel like work, because I enjoy it so much. I don’t monitor my working hours,” Nuorala says.
Nuorala, who grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, had a similar company for a couple of years before NIEKO. The first company came and went, and then Nuorala started to sew a variety of products as a subcontractor for other businesses, such as Letkiä Cloth from Pyhäjoki.
Nowadays Nuorala makes most of her products herself and sells them online and at KELO shop in downtown Pyhäjoki. She runs the shop together with entrepreneur Milja Salmela.
Ecological thinking turned into a world view
Nuorala has not always been an ethical consumer; she says that she used to be an excessive one.
“I consumed like people in my generation tend to do. I bought things without even thinking whether I actually needed them,” Nuorala says.
Little by little, she became interested in more ethical choices and decided to become a different type of consumer. She soon noticed that changing her consumption habits was not that difficult.
“Now it feels great that my whole family – my husband and also my sons, who are 8 and 10 – have adopted the ecological world view. Perhaps because I set a good example,” she ponders.
Fighting climate change with Fennovoima
Nuorala’s goal is to offer alternatives for disposable plastic products. That is why all her products are made from natural materials: reusable washing cloths made from bamboo terry fabric, metal straws and straws made from bamboo, as well as reusable coffee filters.
“It’s my way of opposing the current throwaway culture."
Nuorala wants to teach people a new way of thinking: you can actually reuse something you have thought as disposable. Reusable products can actually make your everyday life easier, because you don’t have to constantly get more from the store.
“It’s my way of opposing the current throwaway culture. My ethics would not allow me to make disposable products.”
Fennovoima has purchased ecological business gifts made by NIEKO from the KELO shop in Pyhäjoki.
“As business gifts, the products from Pyhäjoki can end up anywhere in Finland, which means that they get new users who value the prevention of climate change,” says Nuorala.
Learning recycling skills from a game
The flagship product of Nuorala’s company is a set of three recycling games for children. They have become so popular that the municipality of Pyhäjoki has purchased them for its kindergartens, for example. Teaching the recycling of waste, the games have been awarded the right to use the Key Flag and Design from Finland symbols.
“The leading idea with the games is to make recycling as natural for children as washing your teeth. Something you learn when you are young will stay with you throughout your life,” Nuorala believes.
Nuorala developed the first game for a year. She made demo versions from cardboard and played the game with her children multiple times. Preparing instructions for the game was a challenge in itself, as something that was extremely clear to Nuorala herself had to be turned into a written form that was easy to understand.
Like in the case of all of Nuorala’s products, all of the parts of the recycling game have been made in Finland. When a game reaches the end of its lifecycle, it can be fully recycled – even composted, as the games are made from Finnish birch plywood, recycled cardboard, and paperboard.
“There is nothing similar in Finland or anywhere else in the world.” Nuorala says.
- A textile industry entrepreneur; an interior decorator, spatial planner, and artisan by education.
- Lives in Pyhäjoki.
- Family: husband and two sons in elementary school.
- Hobbies: ice hockey and handicraft.
- Established in 2019, a company that manufactures reusable consumer goods from natural materials.
- The products are manufactured at the company’s own production facilities following strict ecological and ethical principles.
- The products are available online and at the KELO shop in downtown Pyhäjoki.