Artist: Heidi Wiitanen LaBeauWeb site: finnbiskit, Etsy store
Location: Houghton, Michigan
What do you create?
I design seasonal women's clothing collections using hand-dyed sustainable textiles like hemp and hemp blends.
How did you come up with your company name?
finnbiskit is a nickname that was given to me in college. I'm 100% Finnish, but was born in the U.S.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
After discovering dyeing techniques, my dyed fabrics would turn into skirts and bags for myself and my friends. Once I mastered my own techniques I began with a mini-collection featuring hand-dyed skirts and pants. I want to inspire environmental awareness and self-expression with my collections.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
From nature and the environment around me. I've studied color relationships for years and enjoy the juxtaposition of colors. I notice it everywhere. I'm also inspired by Scandinavian interior and furniture design. I like minimalism that makes a statement.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
My iron, can you believe it? The secret to good sewing is a good iron.
What keeps you motivated?
I have lovely and supportive friends and mentors that keep me going. Seeing people wearing my finished product also motivates me.
How do you get the word out about your work?
Word-of-mouth, mostly. My friends and family tell anyone who will listen! Plus I hand out postcards, have a myspace page, a website, and an online shop at Etsy.
What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
To expand my client base and have fun.
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Don't be afraid to start your own business. An instructor once told me, "Do what you love and money will follow."
What’s the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work? Currently I design, hand-dye, cut, and sew all of my own work. Each piece is unique. It's "fashion with sisu." A Finnish term, sisu is the magical strength inside of you that emerges when the impossible must be overcome.
Who are some of your favorite indie designers/artists?
Treehouse28, Supayana, and Ryan Dalman. Ryan is a potter and his work is Dr. Suess-like and whimsical. Ritch Branstrom is a sculptor who makes birds, fish, etc. out of tin cans and bottle caps.
What city, that you’ve never been to, would you like to visit?
Actually there are two - Helsinki and London.
What's your definition of a perfect day?
The perfect day is when I finish all things on my list, all things have gone well, and I feel I've accomplished what I've wanted to for the day. Then I take a sauna and come out with my mind clear and I smell the clover.
**Photos taken by Adam Johnson**
Thank you Heidi!