Ukko seals moments of celebration in steel
This company has turned the concept of a hipflask into a simplistic design piece that is already starting to spread Ukko moments around the world.
Even though the basic idea of a hipflask is convenient for example on a hunting trip, the flask itself has lost its value in the eyes of many. When Jani Jaatinen, the CEO and designer of Ukko, was searching for a new type of business gift 10 years ago, this became the starting point that eventually lead to the elegant drinking tube called Ukkomatti.
The focus is not on drinking, but on sealing a memory.
“For example, when you climb to the top of a mountain, it’s about celebrating that moment, a toast for the small things in life,” Jaatinen says. “The world is moving to a direction where we invest in our spare time and in these moments.”
In search of an elegant gift for men
Therefore, a decade ago, Jaatinen set out to fill the lack of high quality gifts for men. At that time he was running his first own business, where gift packages of wine and whiskey were sold as business gifts, and the aim was to add something new to the mix.
The thought of making a cup out of steel originally came from steel tubes used in the metal industry.
“I liked the idea of using laser welding to make a cup out of a tube,” says Jaatinen. “Nobody else in the world, as far as I know, has done that.”
The initial product was well received even though the steel shot glasses were, in many senses, rough around the edges. It was not until 2015 that the real Ukko was born, after thousands of hours spent branding and conceptualising. The result was a lifestyle concept of ‘Ukko moments’ in the Finnish nature, where the drinking tube forms a part of life’s small celebrations.
Jaatinen also wanted the brand to showcase Finnishness in a new way and created a visual world combining the Nordic god Ukko (Thor) and blacksmithery. Although the products are not made by a blacksmith, the profession is a father figure to today’s metal artisans and thus honours the Finnish handicraft that goes into the product.
Ukko drinking receptacles are 100 per cent Finnish and manufactured in co-operation between metal industry professionals and artisans. The company’s flagship product, Ukkomatti, is a thin steel tube made with CNC metalwork by Finvacon and Ricomix and then laser welded by Veslatec. Finally, the tube is encased with a leather piece handmade in Kauhava and designed to resemble the iconic Finnish Kauhava knifes.
Since every Ukkomatti is signed with a unique serial number that can be traced on Ukko’s webpage, the product is impossible to replicate.
“The uniqueness lies in a timeless design that combines traditional handicraft with high-tech metalwork,” says Jaatinen.
By only using steel as material and welding as the production method, Ukkomatti is much more hygienic than traditional tin hipflasks and does not contain any impurities.
“This is basically a tank to transport and store noble beverages,” says Jaatinen. “The tube steers out the right aromas and with the thin mouthpiece it functions as any fine brandy glass.”
Now Ukko sells Ukkomatti flasks as well as a birch cases of steel shot glasses to businesses and private customers with an annual turnover of about a million euros.
Sharing Ukko moments around the world
The enthusiastic entrepreneur does not rest for too long when it comes to expansions or new ideas. This autumn, a slightly bigger tube meant for coffee or tea will hit the market as a new version of the traditional Finnish “Kuksa”, and the plan is to create a more feminine version of Ukkomatti plated in 24-karat gold, cased in white leather and decorated with a diamond. In the future, Jaatinen hopes to co-brand with big liquor houses, such as Hennessy.
Ukko has also managed to charm the Japanese: the import company Cornes Corporation decided to add Ukko’s products to its offering. Cornes represents many well-known brands, including Bentley and Ferrari.
“The thing that attracted the Japanese was Finland – Ukko is a way of selling Finland,” says Jaatinen. “We couldn’t have found a better partner.”
Since the lifestyle story of individual Ukko moments is a crucial part of the product, Jaatinen went down to Japan to personally train the Japanese sales representatives. Today, Ukko products are sold in Japan, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Norway and Russia, all drawn by the same thing.
“The moments in Finnish nature are attractive: you buy a place, quality, handicraft and a feeling,” Jaatinen summarises.
Text: Elisa Häggström