For many, Finland is synonymous with snow and Santa Claus, whose hometown of Rovaniemi has been named Europe’s top winter destination. Up north, the winters are long and dark, but Finns have created many noteworthy ways to cope with and enjoy the year’s coldest season.
Get inspired by these five Finnish brands to stay active, cheerful, comfy and safe throughout the season.
A warm home makes all the difference when it’s well below zero outside, but the increased need for heating often causes a significant spike in energy bills. Espoo-headquartered OptiWatti helps homeowners to reduce wasted energy and increase comfort with its innovative automated solution.
The OptiWatti smart energy management system monitors room temperature around the clock and automatically adjusts it based on the user’s needs and preferences, which can be set not only for different times of the day, but also for each room individually. Additionally, OptiWatti analyses the outside temperature, weather forecast and electricity price fluctuations to ensure the best result at a lower cost.
“Most people don’t know that heating can be automated like this, and often the first reaction when people hear about us is that it can’t be possible,” revealed co-founder Juha Marjeta. “This is typically followed by: How come no one has come up with the idea before!”
Ice fishing is an excellent wintery pastime, and using the proper equipment can make it even more enjoyable and rewarding. With origins going back to 1936, when Finnish fisherman Lauri Rapala first developed a lure that mimicked the wobbling movement of a wounded fish to attract predator fish, Rapala has grown from a humble family business into a household name in the fishing tackle industry.
Combining tradition and innovation, Rapala has many points of pride, including the world’s largest lure and treble hook manufacturing facilities. The company sells close to 20 million lures annually to customers in over 140 countries, and its lures have been used in over 600 world-record catches.
The product line is constantly expanding and evolving, catching international recognition from avid anglers and industry professionals alike. Ice fishing tools, accessories and clothing, designed to make the time spent on the ice safe and productive, are also part of the company’s portfolio.
“We’ve successfully managed to maintain the founding values of the company: functionality and quality,” underlined COO Lars Ollberg.
Abundant with various reasons to celebrate, the cold winter months are a popular time for parties big and small. Glöet, a unique drink that combines the best of Finnish mulled wine glögi and sparkling wine, is the perfect way to boost traditional festivities with innovatively flavoured bubbles.
The idea for Glöet was born largely by chance. Ahead of a Christmas party a few years ago, Juha-Matti and Anette Raunio tested a home-made mix of mulled wine and sparkling wine, and the end result was so impressive that the duo decided to create a completely new beverage category.
“Everyone thought it was delicious,” Anette Raunio recalled. “It had the best of both: the celebratory feeling of sparkling wine and the Christmassy taste of glögi.”
Glöet has quickly become a hit in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark and received a number of prestigious awards, including a bronze medal at last year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London. In an attempt to boost international growth, Glöet was also made available in Germany for the most recent Christmas season.
4. Stay safe in the dark
Safety comes first – especially when the winter dark arrives, resulting in poor visibility on the roads and requiring more concentration from all road users. Invented in Finland decades ago to save pedestrians’ lives, personal safety reflectors are now a great way to stand out, in all senses.
Saintex, a Helsinki-based manufacturer of custom-made plastic goods and LifeSaver-branded soft reflectors, takes a fashionable approach to safety through collaborations with both reputed and emerging Finnish designers. For example, its Love or Die jewellery reflector, which has received the international Red Dot Design Award, was designed by Paola Suhonen, best known as the founder of fashion label Ivana Helsinki. The other big names include Eero Aarnio and Ilkka Suppanen.
“Finns are well known foremost for quality and also our designers,” noted Susanna Blomqvist, CEO at Saintex. “[…] Safety reflectors are cool objects if they look good. And they also save lives.”
Don’t let the treacherous winter weather prevent you from spending time outdoors. Founded in 2016, Finnish shoe brand Tarvas is an expert in creating footwear that can handle anything the Nordic nature throws its way – from rain to snow to dirt.
On top of functionality and durability comes timeless style, rooted deep in Finnish design heritage and lifestyle. Tarvas prioritises ethical production, and the material choices matter.
“All Tarvas shoes are produced locally and made of sustainable and durable European materials,” explained co-founder Jukka Lehtinen. “We want to hit back fast at fast fashion manufactured in sweatshops.”
Originally published in February 2021.