At the moment Uhana Design enjoys a fast growing popularity. With their imaginative, playful prints and high-quality fabrics, Mira Vanttaja and Hanna Virkamäki fight against the disposable culture. Previously they ended up entrepreneurs together, but what keeps them doing this and how does the values of responsibility show in their business?
Uhana Design was founded in November 2012 after Mira and Hanna joined their individual strengths together. When setting up a business, one of the most important things was that, in addition to values, both shared the idea of money – how to use it and the fact that in the beginning, despite the enterprise allowance, there would be only costs.
For their surprise, they faced quite a few warnings of entrepreneurship in general.
“We were confident. We knew that we can design, but perhaps others didn’t want to get our hopes up since the depression was on. We heard a lot of horror stories,” consider Hanna and Mira.
In Uhana Design product planning is always done together. Hanna is the patternmaker, and Mira designs the prints. Their products are recognized from high quality, usability and playful, timeless prints. Their clothes and jewellery are meant to last time, no seasonal products are made, and this is one of the cornerstones of Uhana Design.
“We want to fight against the disposable culture and make quality products so that you can wear it more than one and so that it lasts in good condition after several times of wearing it,” Mira summarizes.
Uhana Design follows responsible values and by that Mira and Hanna mean, most importantly, the transparent production chain.
“As a small player in the field of fashion industry we cannot know all the way, but we are as aware of the production chain as possible. It’s significant for us to find the best solution considering fabrics and production,” Mira specifies.
As said previously, Mira was relieved to be back in Finland after the noisy and dirty three months in Shanghai. The mass of people didn’t cause distress then but it would now. After China Mira appreciated Finnish nature more and that can also be seen in the prints she draws. Every collection has related to nature somehow.
Nature, the flora, and fauna in all its colours inspire Mira because there’s always something interesting to find and new to explore. But when designing patterns and prints she always wants to add surprising elements in nature as well.
But nature is important for them both and from the two Hanna is the one who wonders in nature more. Last year the photos of the clothes from their autumn/winter collection were taken in Iceland. The northern island with its magnificent and silent nature had an enormous impact on both.
“Nature there differed entirely from everything we had ever seen. And everywhere was silent, it’s something that we rarely face in our hectic and stressful work, so you seek it. I have understood the beauty of clean nature now, and I wish I could travel back to Iceland during spring”, Mira says.
Mira appreciates most Hanna’s reliability and her ability to listen, and Hanna respects Mira’s courage and determination to be the way she is and stick to her values. It goes without saying that they have fun together.
So far the designers of Uhana Design have trusted to intuition considering their business. They admit that it would be good to be more economically orientated, especially know that they have more and more customers interested in the domestic, quality brand. The Pisara-earrings, in all the colours of a rainbow, have become their most popular and recognizable product.
Mira and Hanna both agree that the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that they can work according to their values and determine their working hours and with whom they work with. They enjoy sharing both the good and bad things together and keep on going with the positive feedback from their customers.
“We are happy to have the opportunity to work in a way that it looks ours uniquely,” Hanna summarizes.
“Although the beginning was rough since we both are perfectionists when it comes to our products. Something was constantly wrong,” Mira adds, “but in four years we have got rid of the idea that everything goes smoothly, and we can handle setback better.”
But what about Uhanas future? In the opinion of Mira and Hanna Uhana has grown bigger in five years for sure, most likely to abroad also and they see new employees, especially marketing and finance professionals, in their company too.
That’s very likely to happen. Particularly, if these two friends keep the edginess, the idea of doing things their way and the laughter between them.