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Setting the course on making local textile design sustainable

This past year has been about finding out what SusiVilla is... and what it could be about in the future. It has been very interesting putting out the first feelers for whether there is a market for hand woven scandinavian products and weaving courses like mine.

During my last year of business studies I have come closer to understanding crafts entrepreneurship and also the commercial design process through actively testing it on the go. Lots is still left to be learnt.

But doing is a big part of learning about entrepreneurship. Had I one year ago just said to someone what I would be doing for the next few months I wouldn't be nearly this far.

The most important thing about entrepreneurships is doing, not just talking about doing. Making mistakes and doing things results in understanding them. And making things is at the very core of every craftsperson. Our hands are always busy.

(In fact the Finnish the word "käsittää" - " to comprehend or understand" incorporates the word "hand" - "käsi". I think its brilliant that a word in itself can be so comprehensive as to in one simple word explain what it is "to get a handle on things". Pretty cool huh!

However complex our finnish language is thought to be, and IS, it sometimes delights me with its complexity for meaning in one single word. To understand. Käsittää.)

Sustainable and local design

I have a previous degree in fine arts and art education and apart from industrial designers my formal education included very little about the business side of art. The hard way I've come to realize how important it is to learn not only techniques, but learn to understand the whole design process and pricing! Oh my god, who knew pricing could be so hard! I not only want to make cool products but I want the pricing to make sense too. Both for the buyer and of course for me as a maker.

Mixing and matching different colors are one thing, but understanding the design process as a whole is sometimes more challenging, and where many local craft designers still need a bit of a boost. Making craft commercial. But not so commercial it isn't craft anymore. It's a thin red line I tell you.

I am working on making craft become design, but without my beloved customers I would be none the wiser. For it is often the customers who are interested and like what I do and then ask for something specific. Often times they ask for products I hadn't even thought of making myself, which is great! And often times one project or product leads to the birth of the next and so it flows. So far my job is to make sure that I am able to make products that have a reasonable production time and so that the costs make sense.

It is challenging. And I love every minute of it.

Future plans

This coming winter I will team up with very gifted textile design student Pirkko Hakkarainen from Univerity of Lapland and put together a product collection of elegant yet cozy home textiles designed in Lapland. The project will be both of our thesis work (I am doing mine for Lapland University of Applied Sciences and she will be doing hers for University of Lapland.)

We want to define the design management process which we believe has the potential to lift local craft design to a whole new level. Sustainability and local design will be at the core of the project.

It will be an interesting cross-disciplinary collaboration between our schools, and I hope a good precedent for other similar projects to come in the future.

I am positive the end product will be nothing short of warm and cosy craft couture and full of Suomi-ethnic designs both for local homes and abroad.

Stay tuned!!

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