post by Cara Howlett
Polkka Jam is a designer duo from Finland made up of Kristiina Haapalainen and Sami Vähä-Aho. Their spirited design collection called Huvila (Villa) is now being sold in Sokos and Prisma department stores in Finland.
Polkka Jam started out as just the two of you, Kristiina and Sami. How did you get your brand noticed?
We have received attention little by little. Maybe our products have something special that catch people's eye because customers have found us without us doing much marketing. Some of our collections do get more attention than others. Doing collaborations with other companies is also a good way to spread the word.
We started by printing t-shirts, gig posters and cards in our home over 10 years ago. We wanted to do everything by ourselves and it was strictly DIY. Since then we have been working and doing many kinds of things in the field of design. We have designed clothing, patterns, album covers, illustrations for magazines, books, etc. Polkka Jam also had a brick-and-mortar shop for three years in city of Turku, Finland.
Over the years your brand has become more well known. What has it been like having your designs sold at large retail companies like Sokos and Prisma?
These are big steps for us. We started as a little "handmade at home" brand. It was good that way for a while, but nowadays we are very happy to do collaborations with other companies. It is nice to see our designs in big department stores as well as in smaller boutiques. One of our goals was that our brand could be available everywhere and for everyone.
What have been some of your favourite designs to work on so far?
The latest collection, Huvila, and its designs are always our most favorite ones! But maybe some of the "all-time" favourites are the illustrations of Puutarhajuhlat (Garden party) and Talviuniset (Winter sleepy) collections.
We have collaborated with Lapuan Kankurit company on some patterns. Their products are made using the traditional jacquard weaving technique. It was very interesting to figure out how our designs would look like with a technique that was new for us. Another really nice project was designing the paper collection for the Japanese department store Plaza. It was great since we love all kinds of stationary products.
What made you decide to contact UPPERCASE? Are you a reader or subscriber to the magazine?
We found UPPERCASE online and fell in love with your magazine. We bought the magazine when traveling abroad and have followed UPPERCASE since then.
What do you see as the future of Polkka Jam? Where do you see your brand in ten year's time?
We would be happy to continue working like we have been so far, and growing our business little by little working from Kimito Island where we live. Besides working on our own collections, it would be really nice to start some new interesting co-operations with other companies. Projects that are not only about the physical products but also about offering the know-how and talent that we have. Also doing bigger stuff like installations and murals would be great!