Once you have been there, you know it. The scarcely populated northernmost corner of Europe, enveloped in imposing wilderness, leaves its mark. There just seems to be something mufflingly unique in Lapland.
For Saara Rinkinen, founder and CEO of Love Arctic, love for the region was ultimately the reason for coming back to Finland, after spending half of her life abroad, and founding a superfood online store, which focuses on Arctic specialties.
“In my view, Finnish Lapland is the world’s best kept secret,” Rinkinen says with a slight grin.
That is certainly a bold statement, but Rinkinen seems to be convinced. Otherwise, she would not have left behind a decent career in Central Europe.
Clean and qualified
For Rinkinen Lapland has always been a special place; for rest, for sport, for fun and above all for clean natural flavours, the focus of her startup, Love Arctic.
The likes of organic berry powders and dried berries, as well as flaxseed and berry mixtures compose the main menu of the company.
“All the way, purity and quality have been Love Arctic’s core values,” she underlines. “They are in high regard among our key customer groups, who consist mainly of European town dwellers. Up to now, feedback has been encouraging.”
At first, internationalisation within the European single market was more or less an easy move. Nevertheless, these days Love Arctic also targets more distant countries, where similar city residents value clean and organic superfood.
“These are the kind of people who know what they want,” Rinkinen comments. “They are aware of their own consumer behaviour, demanding high-level, clean and ethical products. That is exactly what I want to provide.”
Also extending their reach abroad is Arctic Warriors, located in the village of Narkaus near the Arctic Circle. Recognised as the most innovative rural startup in Finland last year, the company specialises in boosts of locally sourced herbs such as angelica and rose root.
“Angelica is a very antibacterial herb; it boosts your immunity,” explains co-founder Tuija Kauppinen. “It’s very good for your digestion as well. Rose root is called the ginseng of the north. It balances the body. If you feel worn out it gives you more energy; if you are wired, it calms you down.”
Given the superpowers inherent in the products on offer, it’s fitting that each product bears an individual cartoon character; the eponymous warriors.
“The company name tells about the strengths and function of these herbs,” Kauppinen outlines “The warrior of defence protects the body, endurance keeps the stress away and energy is natural energy. Also the name is kind of a mission statement: we want to keep Lapland alive.”
Actions also speak louder than words. Arctic Warriors has its own network of farmers and wildlife pickers from whom they source the raw material. Patience is a virtue, mind you, as angelica is harvested every two years, and roseroot every five.
“Traditional farming doesn’t pay off in Lapland,” Kauppinen continues. “We have been able to give them new means of livelihood when they grow these special herbs.”