Lapin Ylioppilaslehti lokakuu
Julkaistu Lapin Ylioppilaslehdessä lokakuussa nro 3/2017
Teksti: Teemu Loikkanen
Arctic Design Shop – suunnittelijoita tukemassa
Jotkut ovat saattaneet huomata F-siiven aulan kupeessa sijaitsevan design-kaupan saaneen uuden yrittäjän tänä syksynä. Omaa Teatiamo –merkkiään pyörittävä Tea Latvala on tunnettu ennen uusinta valloitustaan puudildojensa kautta. Kyllä, luit oikein. Puudildojen. Mistä oikein on kysymys?
– Halusin tehdä jotain omaa, olen vaatesuunnittelun maisteri ja työskennellyt alalla jo 15 vuotta. Vuoden 2016 alusta minusta tuli täysipäiväinen yrittäjä. Vanhempani ovat työskennelleet puunjalostustehtaalla, joten puu oli materiaalina luonnollinen valinta. Alalle lähtö ei tapahtunut hetkessä. Tuttuni perusti pohjanmaalle sahan ja aloin miettiä puuta uudella tavalla, lisäksi kiinnostuin väestöliiton tutkimuksesta, jonka mukaan seksiväline-ala on jämähtänyt 90 –luvun pvc-asusteiden estetiikkaan, joka taas koetaan epämiellyttävänä, Latvala kertoo
Hyvinvointi- ja seksuaalisuusala oli tullut Latvalalle tutuksi jo vuosia sitten, kun hän juonsi nelosella Anna Perhon kanssa G-piste -nimistä ohjelmaa. Se käsitteli seksuaalisuutta erityisesti naisnäkökulmasta.
Latvalan design-dildojen materiaaleina on käytetty perinteistä koivua, tervaleppää, pyökkiä ja jopa suojeltua ruusupuuta, josta piti tehdä aikaa vievät ja hankalat selvitykset. Seksivälineissä käytetään paljon myrkyllisiä kemikaaleja, joten Teatiamon tuotteita voi ajatella myös terveydellisesti järkevämpänä valintana. Yksin yksityisyrittäjäksi lähteminen ei ole virinneestä kiinnostuksesta huolimatta ollut vailla esteitä.
– Halusin myös herättää keskustelua ja rikkoa rajoja – tie on ollut kivinen. Kun sain Tekesin rahoittamaan, business-maailma heräsi ja tämä nähtiin positiivisena. Olen saanut kaikenlaista kommentointia, kuten ”suunnittelijahan varmaan testaa tuotteensa itse”, tai ”eikö olisi mielummin kannattanut mennä rikkaisiin naimisiin”? Olen kuitenkin elättänyt tällä itseni ja sanonut skeptikoille: tehkää perässä. Puukikkelibisneksessä ei mikään ole ollut helppoa. Olen saanut Suomessa paljon mediahuomiota, mutta sama pitäisi tapahtua vielä kansainvälisesti.
Uuden Lapin Yliopiston Design-kauppiaan tausta on siis mielenkiintoinen ja värikäs. Mutta miten räväkkä Kurikasta kotoisin oleva maailmankansalainen on saatu tänne pitämään puotia?
– Päädyin Lappiin kun tapasin Tinderissä Sodankylästä kotoisin olevan miehen, menimme naimisiin toukokuussa. Olin Miamissa ja kuulin LYY:n etsivän yrittäjää tähän, skype-haastattelun jälkeen otin homman vastaan koska se kuulosti mielenkiintoiselta.
Tällä hetkellä Arctic Design Shop palvelee kolmena päivänä viikossa kymmenestä neljään. 95 % valikoimasta on lapin yliopiston opiskelijoiden tai alumnien käsialaa. Uudella yrittäjällä on paljon kiinnostavia suunnitelmia ja ideoita. Tulevaisuuden haaveissa siintää upea myymälä napapiirille – jos yhteistyökumppanit ja rahoitus löytyvät. F –siiven lasikoppi on toki hieno ja tyylikäs, mutta tuntuu ajoittain kliiniseltä ja väärässä paikassa olevalta. Tulevaisuus vaikuttaa turismivetoiselta, eikä heitä satunnaisia ryhmiä lukuun ottamatta varsinaisesti parveile yliopistolla.
– Tulen yliopistoyhteisön ulkopuolelta, joten jouduin aloittamaan soittelemalla suunnittelijoita läpi ja tutustumalla ihmisiin. Nyt olen siirtämässä design-shoppia keskustaan. Tila on jo olemassa ja mieheni on tarkoitus pyörittää siinä matkailualan opaspalvelua ja myydä arktisen alueen ruokatuotteita, arctic design shop tulisi kaupaksi kaupan sisälle.
Omien projektien lisäksi Latvala kaipaisi enemmän tukea aloitteleville suunnittelijoille, joiden on vaikea kasvattaa toimintaansa materiaalisten ja logististen haasteiden maailmassa.
– Mielestäni opiskelijat tarvitsivat rahoituskanavaa, jotta he voisivat riskittömästi tehdä tuotteitaan myyntiin. Tuotteita pitäisi saada varastoon suurempia määriä, tällä hetkellä ei ole rahaa tilata materiaaleja ja tehdä omaa varastoa. Tarvittaisiin lainaperustainen rahasto, josta suunnittelijat voisivat lainata ja maksaa takaisin kun myyntiä tulee. Esimerkiksi lentokentälle tuotteitaan saadakseen tarvitaan jatkuvuutta, parin viikon välein lähettää uusi erä. Konseptin pitää olla toimiva.
Puudildonaiseksi itsensä brändänneellä Latvalalla on paljon ideoita, eikä hän pelkää esittää niitä ääneen. Ylioppilaslehti suosittelee vierailua liikkeessä erityisesti potentiaalisille suunnittelijoille ja muotoilijoille. Tai hieromasauvan hankkimista harkitseville. Yliopistoyhteisö on saanut uuden jäsenen, josta tulemme varmasti kuulemaan vielä paljon.
What do you feel – TEATIAMO
True Story behind TEATIAMO
Sometimes my story is too complicated to start telling it to a complete stranger. But this is how it began – written by Matilda Kivelä:
”There was a door in Miami that I walked past almost every day. It looked so tantalising, yet every time I tried to open it it was locked. For some reason, it kept calling my name and I kept stopping to try its handle to see if it was open. On the day I told my then-boyfriend to pack his bags and leave our shared home, I walked past the door. It was unlocked and a tiny woman was in. She asked me if I knew why the door had been locked until that morning, quickly replying to her own question. “It was locked because you were not ready until now.” It sent chills down my spine.
We started a long process of healing, working on my strengths and weaknesses together. We became friends. Once during a meditation session, she suddenly sprung up, holding her small hands parallel to each other and exclaimed “I see dildos in beautiful wooden boxes!” While it would be poetic to say that it was an epiphany, I was actually confused by her outburst. It kind of made me feel a bit dirty. At that point I had been working in fashion and as an art director for years. Becoming a dildo dealer was not part of my plan.
I flew back to Finland and over that spring, ideas of something of my own started to form. I was suffering from insomnia and when night fell I would build vast empires of ideas and dreams in my mind. It was not long before my thoughts would reach their crystallisation in the form of dildos. I had actually had a name for my brand long before the dildos. It was born over dinner one night, when an Italian couple asked me why I did not have my own brand yet. “Tea, ti amo,” they exclaimed, “it is a perfect name for a brand!” Tea, ti amo – Tea, I love you. The dildos fit the name perfectly. It is the pinnacle of what they symbolise – learning to accept and love yourself.
The shape of the dildos was born organically – I often drew the same form on notepads and pieces of paper when I was on the phone. The shape grew on me little by little and I later refined it to resemble a more clean-cut half-circle. When I lived through difficult nights, I sustained my dreams with the idea that I would one day be able to showcase what I have achieved. I wanted to bring dildos into the realm of aesthetics, out of the grotty sex dens of the 1990s. I wanted to break some of the taboos that still hang over us.
Some people expect me to be some kind of ultra-sexual nymph just because I design sexual objects. Sometimes I get feedback about the way I look – people tell me that I could and should be sexier and expect me to show and tell. My aim is to be a credible designer and businesswoman, so in my mind there should not be a link between my dildos and the way I look. It makes me furious when people tell me I should wear different clothes or let my long hair down – I can be a successful businesswoman even if I’m dressed in lounge wear with my hair up in a tight bun. As a woman, I have to justify my existence no matter what I look like or what I do and it is almost as if I was expected to apologise for what I am. Sorry for being tall, sorry for having long hair that I want to tie up – and sorry for having designed something that I can stick up yours!
In some ways, I feel like I am a pioneer of some sorts. Dildos are not anything new, but it does feel like I have hit some nerve since there has been so much controversy and discussion around my business. I had no idea how many tornadoes I would have to survive when I started. Sometimes, when I look back, it feels like the things I do are guided by something bigger and with hindsight, I can see how everything is connected. It is no longer just about the dildos, but about something bigger – I believe that they will open new doors and ideas, shatter some ceilings and kick through some doors. They already have. It has been a battle, but it feels like I am exactly the right person for this task.”
Tea Latvala is the founder and CEO of TEATIAMO, a startup that blends design and high-end sex toys. Latvala holds a Master of Arts degree from the Helsinki School of Arts, Design and Architecture. From 2007 to 2008, she co-hosted 14 episodes of G-piste (“G-spot” in Finnish), a talk show about sexuality.
Written by Matilda Kivelä
Photo by Bryan Saragosa
Story in NORDIC SPIRITS magazine
In Finnish Media: Radio Rock
”Teatiamo yritystä pyörittävä Tea Latvala on suunnitellut puisen dildon Mr. Rosewoodin. Latvala kertoi Korporaatiolle, että hän on kasvanut puun parissa sillä hänen vanhempansa toimivat puualalla aikanaan Latvalan synnyinseudulla Kurikassa ja innostus materiaaliin juontaa jo sieltä asti.
Latvala on saanut puudildolleen myös Valtion innovaatiokeskus Tekesin tukea kansainvälisille markkinoille pääsemiseksi. Jakelusopimuksia on tehty jo Latinalaisen Amerikan puolelle ja Latvalan tavoitteena on saada puudildot tulevaisuudessa myyntiin markettien hyllyille.”
TEATIAMO Interview in K-oodi Magazine
Every now and then you come across an idea and you bite your nail – or a pillow – because you didn’t come to think of it yourself. Every so often you also come across a person that simply makes it happen. Meet Tea Latvala, the CEO of Teatiamo Industries. While she has been making it happen ever since I first met her over ten years ago, lately she’s truly been giving people a lesson on what ”sisters doing it for themselves” is all about. Just few months ago she launched Teatiamo, and almost immediately her idea attracted investors.
So, what is the fuss all about? It’s very simple. She designed something others had not thought of: an object that functions as an art piece – one of them could be on the top of your design magazines right beside your bed, perhaps couple of them in a bowl in your living room – and at the same time it can be used to pleasure yourself. Here’s a sex toy you don’t need to hide in your drawer. Teatiamo wooden designs do not scream sex like most adult toys, they are discreet handmade design elements: true crossover products that could revolutionize the way we look and think about sex toys. And even if you never get that itch, it can still serve you well as a piece of art. It’s your secret, out in the open. I had a chance to interview the busy CEO who is currently in Miami, USA, to find new opportunities for her rising brand.
Where did you get the idea to design luxurious adult toys?
I wanted to design something elegant and timeless – something that would break boundaries between the sex and design industry.
Can you tell us something more about the designs themselves and your thoughts behind them?
It’s all about the design and shape. The shape is smooth, silky and aerodynamic. You can have one or more and pile them up on a table to make it an art piece.
Did you do a lot of research on the history of sex toys, considering wood has been used for similar purposes (though much differently) in the distant past? Or was the process more organic?
I did a lot of research on the history of sex toys. My first idea was to do a Ferrari of sex toys which would have been the same banana shape, but in pure gold with a vibrator. However I didn’t have enough money for the production and testing so I ended up experimenting with wood and found out that it was actually perfect material in many ways.
How has it been so far? What would you consider the best thing about designing luxurious adult toys, and what has been the worst?
Like in everything in life there are pros and cons. For me it is clearly easier to do business outside of Finland. It’s more natural. In Finland it seems no one really takes you seriously before you’ll make it outside of the country, or work with the gaming or computer/IT industry.
Have you been faced with prejudices while trying to market your products, for entering a business that many designers shy away from?
Unfortunately, yes, it’s easier for me to work outside of Finland.
Teatiamo recently became Teatiamo Industries. What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, I have just started a crowdfunding campaign with INDIEGOGO to get more attention and to market the brand here in the U.S. I am also searching for places where I can see my brand in. I already got into one gallery here in Miami and I am negotiating a deal with one hotel. I am moving step by step but my goal is to make TEATIAMO a big brand within few years and selling it with a good profit. Last week I got another call from an interested investor so I am very happy of what I have achieved in a short period of time.
You have a background in fashion design, can you tell us more about it?
I have a Master of Arts in Fashion. The past 7 years I worked as an Art Director for two Finnish companies. I organized photoshoots, campaigns, designed web pages and graphics and I still have clients in Finland to whom I design all kinds of visuals through my other company (Tea Latvala Design.)
What do you find is the most challenging thing when it comes to designing adult toys?
Well, it’s all very challenging. I work with materials, sizes, shapes and safety but it always comes down to people you design them for. The most challenging is to get the message through to the customer.
What are the benefits of using wooden materials? And what wood types are you using?
Wood lasts a lifetime if kept well. I use several different wood types such as Rosewood, Ash Tree, Nut Tree, Wenge, Rubber Tree, Finnish Birch etc. All wood types have their own special spirit.
What is the most common misconception that you’ve had to debunk time and again while promoting your wooden designs?
Are there splinters? OF COURSE NOT! They are finished with organic varnish.
The wooden designs are beautiful and elegant and if you’d see one on a table you wouldn’t even necessarily think of a sex toy, you’d just think of an art object. I assume that was a goal of yours, to create a product you wouldn’t need to hide, a product that can be easily used as an interior design element as well as something to pleasure yourself with?
Exactly the point. I am happy you got the essential heart and idea of the brand right there. You know what you are talking about. (smiles)
The product descriptions on your website are very tongue-in-cheek. Is it one of the ways you are trying to express that sex should be fun?
Yes. In general I think sex is fun and straight-forward. Sex should be approached responsibly but there should be a humorous twist to it.
What sizes do the design come in? Some of the designs seem quite large. Is that how you wanted them or does the manufacturing process affect it as well? I also need to pop the age old question: does size matter?
The wooden pieces come in 2 sizes – the bigger is 27 cm (10,6 inches) in lenght and the smaller is 20 cm (7,9 inches) and the shape is designed in a way that there is always the narrow and the thicker end. So although it might look big it is easily approachable. Size has nothing to do with the general quality of lovemaking, however for some larger items cause more pleasure.
What does Teatiamo designs have that others don’t?
Elegance, harmony and life-lasting quality.
Where did the shape of the design originated?
I just started drawing random shapes. So it came out of my pen. (smiles)
You’ve already taken part in fairs in Finland and Teatiamo designs have been showcased in a gallery in Miami. You’ve also started a fundraising campaign with INDIEGOGO. Is there a difference in the way people react to your products, depending on location?
Yes, there is a big difference. Every single person I have talked about TEATIAMO here is very excited and interested, and cheerful. They see the potential and the opportunity and they are very positive. Let’s leave it at that. (smiles)
What would you like to say to those who are still virgins when it comes to adult toys? Perhaps someone who would like to try one of your products but is still hesitating?
We are all born equal but different. Adult toys aren’t for everyone. I would recommend to start with a small Mister Rosewood. If you end up not using it – it is still a beautiful piece of art.
Do you have a design philosophy that you would like to share?
Keep the shape simple but the mind full. Meaning that the thought behind the design can be very tricky, complex, exciting etc. but when you are able to combine that with a beautiful timeless shape, that is when the magic happens. My other one is a quote from a Finnish poet Tommy Tabermann: ”paint yourself a paradise and step into it.”
Who would you say are your main customers, based on the experience so far? And who would you like to attract more?
At the moment it is 50/50 male and female. I always want to spread the message of equality.
Are the wooden designs made of one piece of wood? How is the actual process of manufacturing one?
It is a secret method just like a recipe… (laughs). Every single piece is handcrafted in Finland by a very talented craftsman. One item is made of one piece of wood, which is suitable for a specific shape. Not all wood qualities suit the shape.
You are trying to find Amy Schumer. Why in your opinion would she be the best spokesperson for your designs?
She speaks openly about sexuality which I find both fun and liberating, like my brand. She is the best spokesperson for it.
For more information on TEATIAMO & Tea Latvala, go here:
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