Many a company has started from a long-term friendship or working relationship, but the cooperation between Jaana Hämäläinen and Eila Kultala from Pyhäjoki started because of their love towards their hometown.
Kultala had come into the possession of the archives of her uncle, Erkki Tuuttila, who was a photographer from the 1920s to the 1960s. The archive consisted of thousands of negatives. Meanwhile, Hämäläinen had been doing graphic design and layout jobs on the side. When they met through a mutual acquaintance, the final result was a coffee table book on the municipality of Pyhäjoki.
“We wanted to capture our beloved village in a book,” Hämäläinen says.
After the successful book project, the women decided to establish a company that would offer graphic design services and photo/interior decoration products. They also created another book on folk tradition, a book on the dialect spoken in Pyhäjoki.
Map of Hanhikivi peninsula on a pot coaster
In addition to books, Kuvanaiset makes and sells Finnish handicraft and interior decoration products ranging from trays to posters and tote bags. Together with KELO shop entrepreneurs Niina Nuorala and Milja Salmela from Pyhäjoki, Hämäläinen and Kultala have designed customized business gifts for Fennovoima. A package completed in early 2020 included pot coasters made by Kuvanaiset with the map of the Hanhikivi peninsula printed on them.
Items based on maps are the most popular products of Kuvanaiset. At first, they made map posters, but they have expanded from posters to pillowcases and wooden pot coasters. Their map posters have been awarded the right to use the Design from Finland and Key Flag labels.
“The project’s impact on employment is significant in such a small town, and we have also received new customers due to it.”
“Together with friends and family, we thought about what would be a good local product. We got an idea of making Finnish map posters and started to create them from old topographic bases of the National Land Survey of Finland,” Hämäläinen explains.
According to the entrepreneurs, people of all ages are interested in the familiar maps, as most people have a special relationship with their hometown.
“We have been especially pleased with the feedback we have received from older people. They have received a map poster of their hometown that they had to leave when they were little. We have sent products to and received thanks all the way from Australia.”
Cooperation with Fennovoima made the COVID-19 spring easier
The fondness of the home region can also been seen in the cooperation partners Kuvanaiset has chosen.
“It’s important for us to sell products made in Finland. We also buy paintings from local artists to print them. In addition, most of our products are printed in Raahe,” Hämäläinen says.
Due to the pandemic, Kuvanaiset was not able to sell their products in the usual way at marketplaces and trade fair events or directly to resellers this spring. The setback did not feel overwhelming, however, because for the time being, the company has been a sideline for Hämäläinen and Kultala, the latter of whom is already retired.
Hämäläinen would like to become a full-time entrepreneur, though. She has already resigned from her day job at an optician. She plans to study product development and continue running Kuvanaiset while studying.
Hämäläinen says that the cooperation with Fennovoima has been precious. In addition to the customized business gifts, Fennovoima has purchased copies of the Pyhäjoki coffee table books and dialect books from the entrepreneurs.
“Especially this spring, it was nice that Fennovoima placed a significant business gift order with us and other local entrepreneurs.”
According to Hämäläinen, the Hanhikivi 1 project also has other positive effects on the everyday life of local entrepreneurs.
“The project’s impact on employment is significant in such a small town, and we have also received new customers due to it,” Hämäläinen says.
- An entrepreneur who is currently in specialized vocational training on product development.
- Family: husband and three children.
- Hobbies: spending time with her family in the wild, hiking and fishing.
- The second partner of Kuvanaiset, a general partnership. A retired farmer.
- Family: two adult children.
- Hobbies: travelling, singing, dancing.
- A photography and interior decoration company. Established in 2017.
- Manufactures and sells Finnish handicraft, interior decoration products, and gifts. Also offers graphic design and photography services.