faShioN · FoCus FInlAnd 2012 Antti Asplund: "The creative mind is all over the place. That's why people think creative people are bonkers." Minna Parikka: "I truly believe dreams are meant to come true. But you have to make them come true." because there are so few of us here. That's empowering because there's less competition. If you live in the fashion capitals of Paris, London, or New York, you feel like you have to run after others. Here you can create your own universe and truly believe in your vision. HäGGKvISt: I start by selecting materials people aren't used to seeing together. Things like reindeer antlers and sterling silver in a necklace or wood and crystals in an evening bag. I like to take the materials out of the context in which we're used to seeing them. every day. My business wouldn't be where it is today if I hadn't literally gone door-to-door selling my collection when I first started out. HäGGKvISt: I graduated from Italy's Istituto Marangoni in 2009 and won first prize in the Swarovski Crystallized competition that same year. By 2010 I had designed my first collection of clothing, accessories, and evening bags under my own Helsinki-based brand, Irene Mikaela. parIKKa: Shoes are absolutely the most difficult product to produce. There are so many elements that have to be perfect: heels, soles, buckles, and bows. My shoes are made in Spain, which has posed challenges. In Finland, sticking to timetables and keeping promises are almost sacred concepts. In Spain things are more "relaxed". You have to learn how your partners work and work with them. HäGGKvISt: Working with materials like wood poses unique challenges. When I approach a carpenter about helping me create an evening bag they usually look at me like I'm insane. They're used to building things like furniture, so part of my job is to teach them a bit about fashion and help them to help me bring my vision to life. WHAt HAs been your bIggest AcHIeveMent? aSplund: It's an amazing feeling to learn to run a business, especially when that's something that doesn't come naturally at all. If I had to design all the time, I'd never get anything done. parIKKa: The fact that I still have my business after five years, and that it's growing WHAt cHAllenges HAve you fAced, And HoW HAs overcoMIng tHeM HelPed turn your vIsIon Into A ProfItAble busIness? aSplund: My biggest challenge is definitely money. But that's a reality many of us in the fashion business must face. It's frustrating to know how much I could do with more money, but it hasn't stopped me from doing what I love. I've learned to work with the resources I have to grow my business. WHAt's your secret to success? aSplund: I've got a very strong, fearless, and dramatic personality, and that comes 16
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