Pyhäjoki & Neighbourhood

Milja Salmela from Pyhäjoki has turned her passion into a business. Photos by Teija Soini

Letkiä Cloth was born from the love of street dance

The eighties-style products are manufactured in Pyhäjoki, following strict ecological and ethical principles. Milja Salmela, the founder of the company, has also designed stakeholder gifts for Fennovoima.

Textile industry entrepreneur Milja Salmela from Pyhäjoki was originally a hairdresser, but her street dance hobby and her interest in accessories from the 1980s drove her to the clothing industry.

“As I couldn’t find the eighties-style clothes I liked anywhere, I decided to make some myself. I obtained an artisan’s degree first, though,” says Salmela, who comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

For the first year, she designed and made the clothes at her home. This is how Letkiä Cloth was born. She found a store and workshop in a basement in downtown Pyhäjoki, opposite the Fennovoima office. When more space became available in 2019, Salmela established a store called KELO shop at street level together with Niina Nuorala, another entrepreneur from Pyhäjoki.

Local and ecological brand

All of the clothes, accessories, and other products, such as jewelry and bags, by Letkiä Cloth are made using strict ecological and ethical principles. Most of the products are made at the company’s own production facilities.

Some of the products are made from recycled/surplus materials and cuttings. The goal with the production is creating as little wastage as possible.

Being a local, ecological, and ethical brand has been the key from the very beginning.

Salmela has danced street dances since her childhood.

“I choose high-quality materials that are as sustainable as possible,” Salmela says.

She understands well why consumers want transparency. They want to know where, from what kind of raw materials, and how the products were made.

Salmela’s own values have evolved with her company. She has cut her own consumption, and nowadays she is familiar with recycling and the sorting of waste. 

Original fabrics from textile factories

Salmela has been a street dancer since she was knee-high – first in Pyhäjoki and then in Raahe. Her special favorite is the old school 1980s hip hop, which is also her dearest dance genre.

“Back then, the sounds were more rugged: lots of bass and a strong beat. It’s nice to dance to that kind of music.”

The bold music is combined with genuine, free-form clothing, strong colors and patterns, and the courage to be yourself. That is the attitude Salmela wants her products to mirror. Hip hop, the fashion of the 80s, and other forms of street art are her sources of inspiration when designing clothes.

“It’s great that Fennovoima, and the people who are using my products all around Finland, share my ecological values.”

Salmela get excited when she manages to find original fabrics from a textile factory, for example. She accepts any pieces, even small ones, with gratitude. Some of her accessories made from such fabric cuttings from the 1960s to the 1980s are completely unique.

Collaboration with Fennovoima

In Salmela’s opinion, the best part of entrepreneurship is freedom.

“I’m a night owl. My circadian rhythm is excellently suited for my business model. I often sit up late at night at home in front of the TV, making jewelry. Luckily, my husband understands my creative side.”

The young entrepreneur gets assistance and valuable advice from her parents, who are also entrepreneurs, and from her stepmother.

“A support network is important for an entrepreneur,” she says.

Fennovoima has purchased ecological business gifts designed and made to order by Salmela and Nuorala from the KELO shop.

“It’s great that Fennovoima, and the people who are using my products all around Finland thanks to the business gifts, share my ecological values,” Salmela says.

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