A fight for fresh

Jasmi Bonnén was born in Turku on the West coast of Finland, and she spent most of her childhood in Africa due to her father’s work and moved to Denmark as a young professional, ending up as Marketing Manager for L’Oréal Paris. That was also when the idea to start her own skincare range came, over ten years ago.

— At the time, we were implementing the new EU rules for labelling of cosmetics. One of the new requirements was that all cosmetic products should have a visible expiry date. But there was an exception to this rule: if a product has a minimum durability of more than 30 months — that is 2.5 years or more — it doesn’t need to have an expiry date. Not surprisingly, products that could last longer than 30 months very quickly became the industry standard for shelf life, she explains.

When aware of this fact, she started looking for information about the effect of time on cosmetics. 

— I was surprised to find several studies showing that commonly used active ingredients, such as vitamins, start losing their beneficial properties in just a matter of months — and not years — after blending, because of oxidation. Another downside of long shelf life is the use of synthetic preservatives and other additives, which are needed to preserve and stabilise the formulas over time. I became more and more convinced that there was a need for a fresh skincare alternative on the market. And, six years ago, I finally gathered up the courage to quit my comfortable corporate job and take the frightening leap into ­entrepreneurship.

”Not surprisingly, products that could last longer than 30 months very quickly became the industry standard for shelf life,”

While Jasmi Bonnén is now based in New York, NUORI (Finnish for ”young”) is headquartered in Copenhagen. They call their philosophy ”Fight for Fresh,” built around the simple fact that freshly blended skincare gives them the unique opportunity to create the purest formulas with the highest level of efficacy.

— Our products can be kept truly pure and highly potent, as no synthetic preservatives or other additives are needed to artificially prolong the stability and shelf life of the products. The efficacy of our formula is higher, since active ingredients are not weakened by time-related breakdown. To ensure this high level of freshness, our products are blended in small batches every 10 to 12 weeks and promptly delivered to our retail partners around the world.

The range consists of 100 % natural face, body, and hair products.

— We’ve had a lot of focus on the face care range since these products demand the most complex and innovative formulas in order to deliver visible results. We recently launched our Infinity line that is based on highly effective, bio-engineered ingredients and the latest innovations in natural science for treating aging skin. It will help improve skin’s overall appearance by making it smoother, younger-looking with a unified tone and a healthy, youthful glow — everything you would wish for in such a line, says Bonnén. She continues:

— Our Shield haircare line is also quite unique since we have applied our expertise from our skincare formulas to develop a line of hair care products that give equal love to the scalp, roots, and hair. Formulated with new and advanced natural-derived active ingredients, it delivers the same performance that we usually only expect from our skincare formulas. Each formula on the range is designed to promote long-lasting change for healthier, stronger hair from roots to ends. 

How do you think the beauty industry needs to transform itself?

— First, of course, is the matter of artificially prolonged shelf lives of cosmetics. The reason for this is economies of scale. The larger the number of products a company produces in one run, the lower the unit cost. But the downsides are clear: long shelf lives are made possible through the use of extensive synthetic additives, and we already know the performance of products deteriorates over time. 

The economies of scale thinking, Bonnén says, also leads to another problem: overproduction. 

— Even if products can last four, five, or six years, it is far from certain that these companies can sell the huge number of products they have produced, and a significant portion end up being scrapped. This is a topic that is very rarely discussed in our industry because it’s generally hidden from consumers. But the truth is that no matter how ”sustainable” your packaging or manufacturing is, overproduction is obviously still extremely unsustainable from a resource waste perspective.

— Second, we will be moving towards radical transparency from brands. Not just ”greenwashing” or ”authentic voices” but true transparency. This is an area that large cosmetic companies still struggle with — probably because there is such a long distance between their consumers and the top management. At NUORI, we’re very fortunate to have customers that are knowledgeable and genuinely curious about production methods, ingredient sourcing, and packaging sustainability. 


”Changing the norm cannot be done by the people outside the norm alone — it requires everyone”

Ervin Latimer is this years winner of Young Designer of the Year in Finland. His winning work draws on drag culture and highlights the different kinds of minorities in society, who are generally under-represented in Finnish fashion catalogues according to Latimer. The Helsinki based designer is also the host of P.O.C. queer club My Neck My Back, the first of its kind in Finland.

You recently won Young Designer of the Year in Finland. What message did you want to deliver trough the winning collection?

— My mini-collection discusses the spectrum of gender and the norms of Finnish (and Nordic) fashion at large. The assignment was to design hybrid clothes that have multiple ways to be used. I designed a collection that consists of very gendered pieces such as a masculine wool suit or a feminine lace dress. Each of these designs is constructed so that they can be dismantled, mixed and reassembled as the user wishes, thus offering a sort of spectrum between masculinity and femininity. With these mixable pieces, the user can then place themselves on this spectrum wherever they wish regardless of their gender identity or personal style.

Why is it important for you to highlight various minorities in the Finnish society?

— As a queer person of colour, I represent two intersecting minorities myself. You don’t see a lot of that kind of representation in countries like Finland, so it’s important for me to try to provide that as much as possible. It’s a common misconception that the yearning for representation is something new, something that we millennials made up with social media. However, queer and Brown people have always been here in this young nation of ours, so it’s important that people like me feel seen too. And not just people like me – other minorities like marginalized bodies, gender minorities, disabled people etc. deserve to be represented in fashion as well.

Do you think that the Finnish fashion industry is a good place to make way for ethnic minorities?

— Interesting question! I think any fashion industry or scene should be a fitting platform for minorities, regardless of the location. I think another way of asking this question is asking whether or not marginalized people are part of the norm in Finland. To this, I would say not yet. At the moment the norm for, say, a fashion model in Finland is white, skinny and cis-gendered and although I’m glad to see some change in this representation in the past seasons, there is still plenty work to be done. This includes me reflecting my own work as well. However, changing the norm in a situation like this requires a lot of time and persistence and it cannot be done by the people outside the norm alone – it requires everyone.

Do you have any role models for your line of work in Finland?

— In my line of work, not really, however, there obviously are tons of people who I admire and who’s work I respect. But for actual role models in fashion, I would have to look abroad. Three women come into mind: Martine Rose, the creative director of her namesake label, Grace Wales Bonner, the creative director of Wales Bonner and Priya Ahluwalia, the creative director of Ahluwalia Studio. All three represent unique values, aesthetic and a take on (brown) masculinity that I really wish to embody.

”However, queer and Brown people have always been here in this young nation of ours, so it’s important that people like me feel seen too”

Tell us about My Neck My Back, what is it?

— My Neck My Back is a club event for queer people of colour that I host as my drag alter ego Anna Konda. It premiered during Helsinki Pride a couple of years ago as Finnish pride history’s first-ever event for queer people of colour. It’s a sweaty, action-packed party where we play Black gay music that you wouldn’t normally hear in Finnish gay bars and see performances from Brown queer artists. We’re lucky to always have a full house and you truly never know what’s gonna happen: one moment you’re dancing to Aaliyah, the next you’re watching a vogue battle. Before you know it a drag queen is performing and shooting glitter from their chest – it’s amazing.

When can people party with Anna Konda again?

— Hopefully soon! The pandemic has scratched all of my plans for the party so we have to wait until it is 100% safe to have people sweating against each other on a full dance floor. As much as I miss the party, the safety of the performers and guests is an absolute priority.

Do you want to shout out anyone or anything?

— Yes! I wanna send a shout out to the completely renewed Tulva magazine by The Feminist Association Unioni, to everyone who worked for the latest issue of Ante Nouveau magazine, a small, independent and extremely inspirational platform for critical thinking and artistic expression and to all of my amazing colleagues at Ruskeat Tytöt Media.


The Finnish government has agreed to build Europe’s biggest startup campus in Helsinki

After discussions and mediations between corporates, city officials, Helsinki inhabitants and Finland’s whole startup eco-system for the past two years, the new huge startup campus is finally ready to be built. It is the Maria 01 campus that will expand past its current 10,000 square meters to eventually be 70,000 square meters large by 2023, Eu-startups reports.

The new Maria 01 spaces will be a meeting point for startups, growth companies and major corporation’s R&Ds The sheer size of the campus means that Finland can be a stronger contender in terms of innovation and attracting talent to the country.

— The decision is the reward of 2,5 years of hard work by the consortium, city of Helsinki, and the Maria 01 community. I’m super happy to see that the decision-makers trusted in this ambitious project. With this decision, I’m hoping that we can finally start competing in attracting highly skilled talent to move to Helsinki and work for the future growth companies or start a company here at Maria 01 campus, Maria 01 CEO Ville Simola says.