Please meet Alba Bordes, founder of Made of Sundays and number 12 of this special interview advent calendar.
You may call her the crazy queen of stickers, but her first mission is to fight for happiness. I met Alba in Kallio where you find her shop named milk and all her beautifully handcrafted products.
For how long have you been living here? It has been seven years now. Although it doesn’t feel that long.
How do you like Helsinki? I really like it. It’s my place now and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I really like how it has changed in the last years.
What has changed? Now there are so many cafés, bars and you see a lot of entrepreneurs and start-ups. And also young people are really active here in that sense, maybe because they’ve travelled a lot or it’s this generation. In the last two years there has really been a boom, especially in this area here in Kallio. It feels like a neighbourhood. There is this sense of community.
What is your favourite place in Helsinki? I have many. This summer my favourite place was Pihlajasaari. That’s the best island for swimming; you take a boat from Café Carusel. The water there is somehow clearer and it feels a bit like being in the Mediterranean. At the beach there’re usually many people, but then on the other side it’s a bit rockier and there’s no one. The big boats are passing and you can wave to people.
In winter I really like the winter garden, a huge greenhouse in Töölölahti. It’s free to enter and inside it’s warm and with the moist you get this tropical feeling. During those long winter days, it feels super nice! They have tables; you can bring your own food and have a picnic.
How did it start with Made of Sundays? I quit my job and wanted to do something new and didn’t know what. I just wanted to do something fun. One day I searched for wall stickers and I couldn’t find anything nice and in my style. They all felt a little cheesy, so I just said let’s do it and then it developed as a business idea and I just gave it a try. I didn’t need much investment in the beginning just a computer and a cutting machine. For many years during my career I just sat in front of the computer. Now it feels nice to work with your hands, cutting and packing and writing beautiful notes to my customers.
How does it feel to have your own shop? We share it, so there’re three other designers. We’ve been here now for four months and so far it has been pretty nice. The immediate reaction of people is the best. They come in and I get feedback about my products, for instance I have this “ei mainoksia” sticker with cats and then people suggested that it would be nice to have dogs as well, so now I finally will make dogs.
What do you like most about Sundays? In Spain it’s the day you meet your family and hang out with friends. So during a Sunday in summer you wake up late, go to the beach and have a late lunch with beloved people. I wanted to promote this nice feeling.
What have you been proud of lately? Everything (laughs). Every time I get an email and someone is saying ‘oh, my daughter really loves your bear sticker and you make us so happy’. That was the whole purpose of it, to make people happy. And I’m also proud to have started this from scratch. I didn’t know how to make stickers, so I had to learn it by trial and error. I made a lot of mistakes. But in the end it just worked out.
What is your dream? I think I’m living my dream. And to make people happy.
How often did you radically change your life? I’m a bit addicted to change. Every three months I need to do something new. It doesn’t need to be a big, radical thing. I can go to Tallinn for one weekend just to change my surroundings. I think that’s really important to get inspiration.
Well, and I lived in many countries and did crazy things. I lived in India for three months and worked in a monkey’s rehabilitation centre. It was a small village without any tourists. So I saw their way of living and people there have so little but they’re so happy. No matter how crappy everything is, they’re just happy. It’s contagious. I came back, with a lot of energy and I was incredibly happy, even euphoric.
When did you stop being a child? I didn’t stop. I think it’s good to have the inner child.