Posts tagged entrepeneurship
sustainability through innovation



writer: emma ranne
picture: from Annamaja

(keepjar)

Annamaja Segtnan from Keepjar

Today we're introducing you to Annamaja Segtnan, the founder, CEO and Designer of KeepJar, who has been inspiring us with her drive for entrepeneurship in sustainable design.  KeepJar is a Swedish company that has introduced a new view on practical recycling through a simple but very clever innovation. The company strives to highlight new perspectives on what we could do instead of consuming only new materials. With her idea of turning empty baby food jars into glassbottles by designing a compatible lid to them, Annamaja has come up with a solution that safes energy and material. We love the inspiring yet simple idea! Why not use what we have as a part of something new?

We fell in love with the aesthetics and practicality of the reusable netbags that are made out of organic GOTS-certified cotton from string to label. 

But now let's give Annamaja the word. What inspired her to create KeepJar and what are her best zero waste tips for living a more sustainable lifestyle?

 

Hi Annamaja, can you please shortly introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi Inlace-readers! I am a Swedish-Norwegian entrepreneur and industrial designer from Stockholm and I want to make it easier to live a sustainable everyday life with my products and innovations.

 

What inspired you to create Keepjar?

I think it’s very interesting to hear what experiences and decisions lead to what we do as of today. KeepJar was more of a project than a brand for me for many years, before I found the right form for it. 

In 2008 I was studying industrial design at a Swedish well-renovated art and design school, Konstfack. That year everybody talked about Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. During an internship at a design firm I got feedback that the product design sketch I had made was great, because the customer would love the slick look of it and that it could break easily – then the customers would need to buy an other one. This experience made me worried about what I had just educated myself to. Was my future job designing things that would make people buy more things? But where my criticism for my own professional career woke – a burning interest in climate-friendly, environmentally friendly, resource-saving industrial design and packaging design grew.

My daughter was born in 2011. Because of the growing awareness of babies and plastic in the society I started to try to avoid plastic objects in my home, especially toys for my daughter. One day when I was doing the dishes I saw a baby food jar with a nipple for baby bottles laying on top of it – I thought why not use the baby food jar as a baby bottle? It’s always much better to reuse directly than to recycle (no extra transports, not energy to melt the material). When I had developed the KeepJar baby food jar adapter I needed a packaging and it had to be re-usable and not made of plastic. This is how I started to also sell mesh bags for buying fruits and vegetables.

So to summarize: my inspiration for KeepJar – it was meeting with a cold cynical commercial world, as a fresh industrial designer, that inspired me to make a brand with the aim to break the consumption cycle through smart reuse, repurpose, up-cycling and recycling.

 

Besides the practicality of your products we love the aesthetics of them. What kind of things drove the design of your reusable shopping bags?

The things that drove me was three experiences:  
1. Friends. I had friends who were more environmentally friendly profound than I was.
2. Then composting feces. A social entrepreneurship project that I ran in India – ecological toilets for slums, Ecoloove.
3.And last a bargain at a flea market.

 

Friends. My friend Parag worked in a architectural firm oriented on designing in natural materials in Pune, India. When I visited him 2010 I said gladly: “Yes, please” being offered a thin plastic bag for my groceries at the supermarket. I had considered myself conscious regarding sustainability before this. But right there and then I had to re-think. Parag was opening my eyes to how bad the plastic bags are. We worked together on an industrial design sanitation project (Ecoloove) for Indian slums at that time. When separating urine and feces the usage of a bag made of de-compostable materials was sometimes uses to collect the feces and I was involved in that research to develop and manufacture de-compostable bags for toilets, this opened my eyes to the alternatives to the plastic bags. I was working with ecological sanitation 2009-2011 in India and Bangladesh. During my time in Bangladesh I learned that the country was first in the world to put a ban on plastic bags, in 2002. The plastic bag was forbidden because it clocked the cloak systems during the monsoon.

 

Composting feces. In 2014 I wanted to make a plastic free packaging for my innovation ‑ KeepJar, that transforms a baby food jars into a baby bottle. I remembered a responsible textile factory that I had visited during my time living in India and together with them I developed a cotton mesh bag for the packaging design. Since early start I had a dialogue with my very sustainability conscious customers (love ya!) at social media and it didn’t take long before one after the other contacted me and asked if I could please make bigger mesh bags? Because the size that I had made could only take around 3-4 yellow onions. But it took some time, because I was having an other full-time job. In 2015 I started to sell a few mesh bags (medium size) that grew with popularity fast.


A bargain at a flea market. I had been using a turquoise string bag made of nylon that I had bought at a flea market 2004 when I studied art in the countryside of west Sweden, Hällefors. It was very lovely with some sort of bamboo handles. I guess it was from the 60-ties. I knew that a string bag was more lightweight than a regular tote bag and could expand with the content. I loved the function but I wish I could have it in a non-petroleum material.  After I had such a success selling mesh bags for fruits I asked my factory if it’s possible for them to make a bigger mesh bag for making string bags. And together we developed the string bag that KeepJar sells since a few years.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

On a typical work day I work in Illustrator and Photoshop designing the KeepJar products regarding form and packaging. I work a lot with paper and knife and my printer keeps going warm ;-) I always make the new designs in paper to see the size properly. Usually I have a few user-friendliness tests going on where I let friends test and photograph upcoming products. Many of my new products are ideas from customers who contacted me about an idea or a need connected to my current product line. I work a lot with user friendliness and function studies to find the right form and material and this in close dialogue with customers.

Before 12 I am usually busy packing orders to customers and resellers all over the world.  I have to book my pick-ups with shipping companies before 1.00 PM. I usually work 8 AM-5 PM.

When I have to go for errands I mostly cycle. I have a bicycle trailer – to be able to bring along parcels. I don’t have a car and cycling is a great way to get everyday exercise. I have a MTB with 7 gears.

Ÿ What are your best zero waste tips?

  • My best tip is to get a decent cycle and start cycle commuting! Check youtube to learn how to take good care of it so it lasts long and will be in perfect condition! You will need cycle oil for sure.
  • When buying new clothes, buy wool, cotton, linen instead of fleece/polyester, since fleece contains of PET/polyester. Plastic clothes spread micro plastics into the water that the water purification plants aren’t always able to catch – it ends up as fish food disturbing the fishes reproduction.
  • Get rid of the classic dishcloth and use one in linen or similar.
  • Eat more vegetarian!
  • Bring your own grocery bags to the grocery store ­ – for vegetables and fruits and for and to pack foods in.
  • Bring your own water bottle and thermos – so you don’t have to say yes please to another paper or plastic cup.
  • Buy used clothes, especially for kids – they grow fast and buying used makes a lot of sense. Rent or borrow things that you don’t use that often, instead of buying.


You might think that it’s too costly and therefore not for everyone and – yes, there’re expensive things to buy for this lifestyle. But Instagram is full of inspiration from people who for an example sew their own mesh bag from lace curtains and using old clothes as dishcloth or sewing their own grocery bags.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

 A friend gifted me a booklet with recipes for eating vegan food (cutting out milk, cheese, yoghurt, egg, sugar and gluten) that really inspires me at the moment and I’ve made a roughly plan for this weeks meals. I bought new ingredients that we don’t usually have at home like whole buckwheat. Today I made chocolate smoothies for breakfast for me and my daughter and she loved it! It contained buckwheat, almonds, blueberries, banana and cacao.

I'm also inspired by the new environments in my everyday life, I just moved to a new office and love my new area of Stockholm, Aspudden.


Name three of those slightly random things that give you joy:

  •  Excursions on bicycle with my 6 year old
  • Cycling fast through the Stockholm night
  • Drawing objects, animals, and people together with my 6 year old

 

Craving more practical tips on how to be a little more sustainble? We made a 5-step game plan for you on how to turn your groceries a shade greener. Also be sure to check out Annamaja's Instagram for more inspiration. 

 

DIY businesscards
DIY sustainable business cards

Making your own business cards is incredibly easy and cost-efficient. You only need a printer, some ink (preferably plant-based) and some recycled carton. There are plenty of templates online, but if you have a Mac the easiest option is to use the template straight from Pages. 

 

1.get your materials

Find some recycled or fsc-certified paper to print your cards on. You can usually find this in your local craft stores and book stores. We got our recycled paper in Helsinki from www.sinelli.fi . Plant based ink can easily be ordered online.

 

2. DESIGN YOUR BUSINESS CARDS

The fun part. Use your imagination, make them as wild or as minimalistic as you please. Remember to make 2 designs. One for the front of the card, preferably a logo and a small description. The other side should have all of your contact information. 

 

3.Print

If your printer can't print double-sided documents, simply use the same paper twice. Draw a small mark on a corner of the paper so you know which way to put the paper in on the second round! Also, if you don't have a printer or know anyone who does, most libraries have printers you can use. Be careful when cutting the cards and follow the lines of the template.

Voilá! You have made your very own sustainable business cards. This method is perfect for you if you don't need hundreds of cards and like to get crafty! 

a brekkie date with tara junker

writer: emma ranne
picture: emma ranne

Helsinki Foodie Tara Junker | brekku in bed

A few weeks back my lovely friend (and basically neighbor) Tara Junker invited me over to her place for a brekkie. It was a mellow Wednesday morning, Tara had cooked some gorgeous food and we chatted about well food (obviously) and what it’s like to be a young creative entrepreneur in Finland.

This lovely 22 year old Helsinki based foodie, does magical things in the kitchen and glows with creativity when it comes to anything relating to food. She’s currently studying food and nutrition science in Sweden along with media & communication and sustainable development. Besides being a student she’s also staying busy with running 2 companies: Brekku by Tara, which is her own and Brekku in Bed which she established last April with her friend Anna Sarmanto. Tara writes recipes for magazines and different companies, does food consultation and organizes food events like the very popular’’Tavastian Sunnuntait’’-brunch in Helsinki. 

 

What inspired you to start Brekku by Tara and where did you find that first spark?

I think it all started with my dream of opening a breakfast place which I had had for many many years. I really felt like there was something missing from the Helsinki breakfast scene. Now in 2018 the brekkie situation is much better, but back then it was all more about brunch and buffets, with no one really serving breakfast. Besides this I have always loved food. So I decided to give it a go by starting off with a small pop up cafe in Punavuori, and well then it kinda escalated from there (bursts into laughter). It’s been a crazy year and a half since I first started first with Brekku by Tara back in summer 2016, and then Brekku in Bed with Anna in April 2017. Everything went so fast!

 

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I would really say that every day is super different. There’s of course a lot of paper work to be done, mails to be read and financial stuff to be dealt with which takes quite a lot of time. My favorite thing would definitely be the planning of the menus. I also love coming up with new recipes for the food magazine job, and creating new dishes for upcoming events. 

On days that we have an event or catering it’s all about cooking in the kitchen. Like the whole day. Especially when we first started we used to work for like 24h straight, and I know how crazy that sounds. But luckily we’ve learned to do things more effectively now, so our work days are not that crazy anymore, haha!

When I work with Anna we do lots of things online, sending recipes back and forth and planning new things. Work for me is also looking for inspiration on Pinterest, browsing recipes in cookbooks, oh and of course doing social media which is like our main marketing channel. 

 

4C817317-DB52-4DFF-831A-36B559A5A524.jpg

What is it like to be a young entrepreneur in Finland? What are the challenges?

Hmmm… I think one of the biggest challenges that I have faced while doing this has been getting things run smoothly with my university. Universities are still not too used to young people jumping into having their own companies, which can be a little challenging. Of course education is always education and it has to be fair, but I really feel like (especially in Sweden) I didn’t get any support from my teachers. The lack of flexibility from my school has probably been my biggest struggle.

But it’s not too bad! There is a lot of support for you to get out there like for example from the organization ’’nuoret yrittäjät’’ (a society for young entrepreneurs in Finland). In the end, there is a lot of things you simply just have to learn on the go, through fails and errors.

 

Could you tell us a little bit more about the creative process behind your recipes?

I always try to challenge the taste experience. I love to make crazy food combinations by for example combining traditionally more savory herbs with sweet foods. Everything is always about trying to take things a step further and to find that next level factor.

It’s also really important to me to be up to date with all the latest food trends and to try out the new things. But I think we also have to be critical with these shouldn't just buy anything. You have to find your own style and way. Sustainability is also a very important factor in both of the companies. I think it’s very important for us to try and find out what products to use to make things a little earth friendlier, and to see some products more like luxury foods.

 


Oh that’s very important indeed, could you tell us a little more about that?

Well we should remember that we are quite spoilt with the big selections of our super markets. No matter what time of the year it is, we pretty much have access to anything. Especially for us living here in the North like in Finland. We rely on food import quite a lot. Lots of our foods like  exotic veggies, but also things like almond milk and avocados are shipped to us from sometimes literally across the globe. Those products should be seen like luxury products and we should not forget about the story behind them. We are often a little alienated from the reality, simply because it’s all made really easy for us and we don’t see these things when we go and buy our groceries. 

 

What are your favorite food spots in Helsinki?

Oooooh that’s so hard! I mean we have an amazing selection here these days and our food scene has really reached new levels in the past few years.

Breakfast-wise I really love Levain. I think they have a good price and quality relation and well, I really love bread. I also really like Lie Mi on Eerikinkatu. I’ve been quite into the Vietnamese food world lately and at Lie Mi they do it very well.

 

Please share a favorite book, artist or musician that has inspired you lately?

Linda Lomelino’s cakes have been such an inspiration, since I’ve really been in a cake state of mind lately!Overall I get lots of inspiration from Instagram, there are so many beautiful food accounts there to be discovered.

 

Any tips for young people dreaming of starting their own business?

I think that of course you have to think things through beforehand, but on the other hand  you should try and not think about it too much. You should really just go for it! I feel like we’re always told that it’s really really hard to be an entrepreneur and how it’s so much responsibility with the bills and everything. We’re made to believe that it’s just difficult. And well of course like with everything there is a down side, but in the end you get to do what you love. It’s a great feeling and when you really feel passionate about your work it’s really worth it.

Just go for it, although it sounds a bit cheesy. We’ve learned everything through the mistakes we’ve made, and we’ve made some horrible ones, but then the next time we know. In the end it’s all good.

 

On favourites: 

favorite ingredient to cook with:
ahhhh… I love garlic. I mean i would’n eat it on it’s own but apart from that I like it with everything no matter what time of the day it is. Also with breakfast. I love it.

Fave cookbook at the moment:
I recently bought the new cookbook by green kitchen stories. Their work has always been an inspiration to me and I loved the new book as well. They have really made an impact on me by making veggie food so fun. Oh and I love their visuals! You can tell they’re good, as this is like their fourth cook book and it’s still filled with new things and ideas to discover.

Favourite brekkie:
I love savory things. breads and spreads and oh sour dough. I really love sour dough.

fave spotify tune at the moment:
I love Zara Larsson. I mean she’s just cool.
Make that money is my confidence boost song and it feels so empowering.
If I’m getting ready for something important, this is my go to tune.

top 3 instagram accounts at the moment:
@nourish_atelier by Nina Olsson
@figandsalt by Cassandra Morris
@cashewkitche by Agnes Cecilia Gällhagen



We love Tara and her creations.
Feeling inspired to cook something yourself?

Check out Tara's butternut squash toast recipe,
that she made especially for you!