Jukka Saarikorpi and Aissa Paronen did what many others just talk about doing: quit their jobs to travel the world.
“We were both professionally and elsewhere in life in a position that made us think that if we want to do something radical, the time is now,” Paronen tells.
After saying bye to their bosses and colleagues at Suunto, the couple packed their bags – mostly with sports clothing and equipment. As avid divers and outdoorsy people, they planned to travel around the globe doing all sorts of stuff outdoors and diving in diverse locations.
The plan worked fine, but whilst travelling from one incredible place to another Saarikorpi and Paronen couldn’t help noticing how these places had suffered. Seeing dying coral reefs and the effects of diminishing biodiversity made the couple rethink their future.
“For someone who has been working in marketing for years, the thought of going back to work to encourage people to buy more felt bleak,” Paronen says.
On top of this, the freedom from clock cards and bosses started to feel like a good choice. The couple realised there’s no way of going back to a regular office job.
No blame game but positivity
Now, Saarikorpi and Paronen’s not-your-regular office job is to run their own online shop for sustainable sportswear, known as Weekendbee. Offering a curated selection of clothing to people who care about the wellbeing of the planet is, in Saarikorpi’s words, a way to do good to the planet through positivity.
“People will buy clothes for their sports and outdoor hobbies anyway, so why wouldn’t we help them find brands that try and do it as well as they can?” he asks. “This way, we could drive the change and provide people with a solution in a positive way, without throwing blame.”
Weekendbee was founded in 2018, and the shop has been open for a little over a year now. The brands are chosen based on their quality and values. As Saarikorpi and Paronen both understand what is needed from excellent sports clothing, they know whom to collaborate with and constantly keep an eye out for new brands to add to the selection.
That’s also where the idea for Weekendbee originates from. Sports clothes are something Saarikorpi and Paronen wear most of the time – including at home – but there didn’t seem to be a marketplace where consumers could be sure that the production process is as eco-friendly and ethical as possible, no matter what they choose to buy.
Striving for the best in customer experience
Currently Weekendbee is run by its two founders. The items come from the company’s outsourced storage in Finland, which was set up to ensure that logistics work as well as promised.
One option for Weekendbee would’ve been to become a platform for sustainable sportswear brands, but in that case all deliveries would’ve been up to other companies. Saarikorpi notes that, in online shopping, customer experience is key.
“The only way for us to ensure that orders are delivered in one to two days is to do it ourselves,” he tells. “In hindsight, it has been the right choice, as our customer satisfaction rate is top notch.”
In its first year, Weekendbee has been growing steadily. The site exists in English and Finnish, and so far international growth has happened organically. First, the plan is to learn a few lessons at home, and then put full focus on foreign markets. The countries to be targeted will be chosen based on their interest and maturity in both sustainability and outdoors.
All is well with Weekendbee, but how is the freedom from bosses and clock cards going for the entrepreneurs themselves?
“Although Weekendbee is fully Finnish, we’ve moved to Mallorca and mainly run all operations from here,” Saarikorpi tells. “We wanted to find a place where the things we want to do, such as hiking, are near, so there’s no travel stress.”
And no need to clock into an office, either.