Please meet Ruta and Eetu. They are the founders of Bagnanas, a label in Helsinki that produces screen-printed bags made from certified organic cotton. As graphic designers they also have their own company called wanamakers.
What is your favourite spot in Helsinki?
Ruta: I like places I‘ve never been to. I like to find them. That’s my purpose of walking in the city and then say ‘hey, I‘ve never seen this spot of Helsinki, it looks amazing and it inspires me’. Since I do so much visual stuff, I need to see new things all the time. So I don‘t really have a favourite spot. It‘s kind of opposite, my favourite places are those I haven‘t seen yet.
Eetu: It‘s an islet, a small island. It might have a lot of rocks and usually no one lives there. They are a few kilometres out in the sea. It‘s amazing, when you stand at the shore you can see all these islands. There the sea doesn’t look so threatening. But when you go ten kilometres away from the shore, it’s nothing but sea. I feel myself there very small, close to nature, very humble and I forget everything. Still it‘s only a few minutes away from Helsinki centre.
What is your dream?
Eetu: Ruta and me, we share one dream, our own business. It‘s not all about money. It‘s to work with your own talent or whatever you can do and change it into money with which you can pay your rent. That’s my dream, to be able to do this for many years, because I like this freedom. I like the responsibility. At the moment it seems that work is not taken for granted here in Europe. It seems quite difficult to get work. And to have your own company means there is more chance to live your dream. And my dream is to work with arts. At the moment there is less money compared to if I would work for a bigger company. But on the other hand, I feel that I have more because I actually can do whatever I can. I couldn’t buy this kind of feeling, even though I would get more money.
What book do you read at the moment?
Ruta: I read mostly lots of professional related literature and now I‘ve been reading a book by Debbie Millman. It‘s interviews with graphic designers and people working in the creative field and how they feel about their career. People that are very experienced and they‘ve accomplished a lot and it‘s interesting to see where this could lead, that profession I‘ve chosen.
Eetu: My book is called ‘a perfect roast’, which is from a Finnish debut writer named Satu Taskinen, who tells about her experiences when she was living in Vienna. It’s quite a lot about this German influenced culture and language. And the book tells, that her mother in law, an Austrian, is coming over and she has to make this perfect roast and everything goes wrong. There is a neighbour and she helps that Finnish woman to prepare it. Usually, I also like to read this kind of realistic documentaries of whatever bad happened in this world. This life is so hectic, but on the other hand, when I read what other people experienced when they had a hard time and challenges – they survived even worse conditions.
How often did you radically change your life?
Eetu: I’ve been thinking of it recently. Maybe I’ve done it at least three times. And, of course whenever it happened, these three times, there was a big sadness included or an uncertainty. The future seems black, empty, whatever. The latest change that I made was by my own will. That was the first time I did it this way. I kind of enjoyed it and said to myself ‘Ok, I just have to jump into the emptiness because it feels like something I‘ve never done before.’ But in these moments of radical changes there is also this disappointment like I didn’t succeed. But on the other hand I’m happy that these changes happen because otherwise I would stand still.
Ruta: It‘s always nice to remember these moments. When you are in that situation, it sounds quite ‘wow’, let‘s jump into the emptiness, turn the page, but when you are in that moment, it‘s not so fascinating.
What motivates you to do what you do?
Ruta: Another day I was explaining to Eetu, that why I‘m so obsessed about doing the best I can about our project. Because I kind of got addicted to that feeling when you really succeed in your vision and you make somebody, your client, or your partner happy. So that‘s one thing that motivates me a lot.
Eetu: I have a very dramatic answer to that. It’s this border of life and death. If I have to do something that I feel that there is no sense doing it, eventually I feel dead and then if I have to continue working like that then it‘s like being physically dead also. So this kind of gives me motivation for real life, to get this fulfilment in life. If I actually work with people that I enjoy being with and I get inspired and I do what inspires me. But that‘s my motivation to do what I do, to be alive, to feel myself alive.
Ruta: And to see beautiful things around you. If you decide to do boring ugly, stuff just to make money. I don’t know, I couldn’t see these things every day around me. I need to see things that inspire me also aesthetically.
What have you been proud of lately?
Eetu: I had this feeling, that I’m not stressed out. Only a few days ago I was walking; this Nordic walking with sticks, with my dog and I had a lot of pressure from work and a lot of projects going on. But still I felt really calm and I somehow managed to control my stress level. And that felt really good. I felt relaxed even though it seemed that the world is going to fall on me. If you’re easily stressed out, then you shouldn’t become an entrepreneur.
Ruta: I tend to forget things very quickly; of course, there were many moments that I felt proud of something. Now I think I should have written them down because this is what usually happens. That moment is gone and I don’t remember it anymore. Lately, I’ve been proud that we managed to solve another problem in a very beautiful way, because it was kind of sensitive. People were involved, people who are working for us. And I was happy with the outcome, how we solved the problem. Because it wasn’t easy, it was quite personal.
Ruta and Eetu, thank you very much for this interview.