I wanted to talk to Ms. Ulla Mitiku who I know through my daughter’s school and her colleague Ms. Minna Rimpiläinen, how these two creative women combine their work, running a creative business and busy family lives. Ulla (on the right) is an architect and an interior designer and has done interior designs, for example, for medical centers and also designed clothes. Minna (on the left) has Masters degree in textile arts and she gives training courses on occupational wellbeing. Ulla and Minna both have six children in their families and in addition to their other work, they run a business that makes acustic light panels that are made out of very Finnish natural material, peat.

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According to Ulla and Minna, who have known each other since their childhood, agree that combining creative work and family life is an everyday challenge. However, to me, it seems that they both still manage it all well and even enjoy it. During the day, their children are in daycare or at school and both women work at home. Ulla says that she is working on her laptop sitting on the sofa at home. Minna, on the other hand, has her own study at home. I wonder how it is possible to combine working at home and having many children. (I myself often struggle with one child only with many interruptions while I try to write.) Minna says that it is nice to be able to be at home when the children come back home after school. Ulla says that their family had a private nanny at home before as she often continued her interior design work soon after giving birth. Children learn that you also work at home, and you can still be present even if you work, they explain.

How about home chores then? Minna says that her children also take part in running their household. (Minna’s husband also works at home.) Ulla, whose husband travels a lot for work, says that her husband takes their youngest child to the nursery school and also cooks. Her husband’s participation helps a lot time wise, she continues.

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As I am hugely interested ecological living and new products created by using natural materials, I want to hear more about Ulla and Minna’s new product the acoustic light panel called SIINNE, and the story behind it. This peat-based acoustic panel is made of ecological, recyclable, natural material, they explain. The LED lights used on these panels consume only little energy and the lights cool themselves. With a few basic models, there are endless possibilities to create panel combinations according to different needs and likes. The name SIINNE has its roots to the arctic nature of the north. The time during the polar night when the sun does not rise but there is a little light glowing from below the horizon or behind the Lapland mountains. It’s that little glow of light that is SIINNE. On these SIINNE panels, the actual LED light bulbs are similarly hidden but the light delicately glows from their hiding places.

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When we stand next to a large white panel, Ulla explains further how their panels have a natural, slightly uneven surface which I think is lovely. Reminds me of wool a little. The carbon footprint in their production is small and the production otherwise is also efficient, they don’t produce wasted parts in the cutting process of the panels. The panels are light-weight and easy to ship anywhere.

I can see how these arctic-inspired acoustic light panels bring a Nordic feel to any space or home with their delicate and nature-friendly features. I am fascinated and very proud of these creative mothers, how they have been able to create a product that is so modern and eco-friendly amidst having other work and very busy family lives!

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Monika Luukkonen
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert and she writes books about the Finnish way of life for the Japanese market. Her books have also been translated and published in South Korea and Taiwan.