June 26, 2014

Arctic Power Berries make Finland’s natural treats travel

Young Finnish entrepreneurs Anna Ojutkangas and Eve Suoyrjö have started to import Finnish superfoods to the UK.
Young Finnish entrepreneurs Anna Ojutkangas and Eve Suoyrjö have started to import Finnish superfoods to the UK.
Jaakko Romu

For someone who has grown up in the Finnish Lapland, the big city berries don’t quite cut it. Two now-Londoners born and bred in Lapland, Anna Ojutkangas and Eve Suoyrjö, weren’t happy with the blueberries brought from Uruguay in tiny and costly packages; they wanted something else onto their breakfast tables.

“Every time we visited Finland we loaded our bags with berry powders and brought them back to London with us. If we ran out between visits, my mom would send more,” says Ojutkangas.

Last November the two flatmates realised they should bring powders not only for themselves, but others as well. Initially the idea was to get the ball rolling after they had finished their undergraduate degrees. Ojutkangas studies Sports Therapy and Suoyrjö Fashion Marketing at the London Metropolitan University.

However, the future entrepreneurs lacked the patience.

“We aren’t good at holding our horses,” the ladies admit with laughter.

Bags of cranberry and sea buckthorn started appearing into Ojutkangas and Suoyrjö’s London flat. Arctic Power Berries came into being.

Helpful professionals all over the place

The new entrepreneurs weren’t the only ones to think the idea was brilliant. From almost three hundred applicants, Arctic Power Berries made it onto London Metropolitan University’s start-up program The Hatchery. The program provides an office space and experienced professional help in Shoreditch, London.

Although the company started out from nothing, things have progressed at an impressive pace. Ojutkangas and Suoyrjö have been pleasantly surprised to see how many friends and friends of friends have offered their help and expertise in order to support the newborn company. For example, they didn’t need to look for a logo or package designer; instead, they were contacted by the designers.

At first orders were dealt with via email and regular bank transfers. The online store was launched in June.

There are also three independent health stores in London that sell Arctic Power Berries powders. When the new packages are ready and in use, and the branding has been given a finishing touch, the products will hopefully be found on the shelves of health store chains.

Rushing to get on the health wagon

According to Suoyrjö and Ojutkangas, not all Finns know what kinds of superfoods are grown in the back gardens.

According to Suoyrjö and Ojutkangas, not all Finns know what kinds of superfoods are grown in the back gardens.

Jaakko Romu

One reason for the hastiness was that ’healthy’ and ‘natural’ are buzzwords of the day. A sprinkle of a hundred percent Finnish sea buckthorn won’t make a breakfast smoothie any less trendy, that’s for sure.

“Had we stayed and waited, the ship could’ve had sailed without us,” Suoyrjö describes.

Both members of the berry duo have spent their childhoods in the blueberry-filled forests of Lapland. When they have seen where the product comes from and what it contains with their very own eyes, marketing is easy.

“Not all Finns are aware of what kind of superfood grows in what’s essentially their back garden,” Suoyrjö mentions.

Some Finns have shown interest in the product, too, and they have asked where the product can be bought in their country of origin. Arctic Power Berries didn’t intend to target the Finnish market, but the online store delivers goods anywhere in the world – including Finland. At some point the berries might hit the domestic market.

The berry selection will grow in number in the coming autumn, when blueberry will join along with cranberry and sea buckthorn. In theory it is possible that the range will be expanded further in the future, but Artic Power Berries isn’t one for five year plans. The biggest goal has already been achieved.

“We had an idea, made it happen, and it worked,” the ladies say.

 

Text: Anne Salomäki

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