Good News from Finland
10 Questions: Tea Latvala
- How do you start your days?
It depends on the day and how I feel. For sure, I need a cup of coffee, but before that I read my e-mails on my iPhone and check all my social media accounts to get a picture of what’s going on in the world.
- What is your story with Finnish wood?
Both of my parents worked in a wood refining factory for almost 20 years. Before I started school, I used to go and sell ice-cream to the factory workers with my sister. I was only five when I started.
- Tell us how TEATIAMO got its name.
Two years ago, I had dinner with my ex-boyfriend and an Italian couple. They asked me why I didn’t have a brand of my own, and they said the words Tea ti amo out loud for the first time. It means Tea, I love you. I actually thought it was brilliant, because the brand is all about loving yourself.
- What is TEATIAMO’s mission?
The company mission is to bring sexy back in the daylight and build a retail chain where Victoria’s Secret meets Apple on a store level. TEATIAMO aims to break boundaries in sex toy industry.
- How do you think the startup scene and creative entrepreneurship are changing the face of Finnish business?
At this point, where many of the the bigger companies are crumbling down, creative entrepreneurship is all we really have left. I believe that small businesses have a great opportunity to shine and take over.
- What are the things you miss from Finland when you are abroad?
I am not a person who misses things. Of course, I think about my friends and family, but we live in a very interactive and global time, which makes it very easy to communicate all around the world.
- What is your favourite Finnish word and why?
Pohojammaa (Pohjanmaa, the region in Finland known in English as Ostrobothnia). Although I’ve lived abroad and travel quite a lot, my roots are very deeply in Pohojammaa. There is just this certain unique force and spirit that is unbreakable. Pohojammaa is something that will always be tattooed on my heart, maybe literally one day.
- Describe your typical working day.
I don’t think I recognise the word typical. All in all, I have chosen quite an interesting path as a dildo dealer and designer, which makes my days not typical at all. I would say that the only routine I’ll have is when I’ll start writing my report to Tekes.
- What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect is to come across as a professional businesswoman in Finland. The sex toy industry and sex in general are still taboos, although we live in 2017. Due to the nature of the business I have chosen, many people here think that they can approach me with a personal sexual innuendo. They want to put me in a certain category and associate me with porn stars or someone who is here to ‘show and tell’ the products. I get a lot of feedback from men commenting on my looks and not paying attention to the business side of it. Many men think that I want to listen to their personal sexual experiences and become their therapist, although I have neither interest nor competence in that sector. But for sure, you can imagine that when you start to design dildos from wood, it is not the easiest path to choose. There have been so many challenges people don’t see or understand, however I know I am the best at what I have chosen to do. There is no one who could have done this any better so far.
- Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I see myself as a very successful entrepreneur. I have TEATIAMO retail stores in major cities around the world and I employ hundreds of people. I am also looking for a CEO to take over my duties. I have one home base in Finland, one in the US and one in Italy. I have a ridiculously handsome and loving husband and maybe a few children. In 10 years, when my picture is on the cover of Time magazine, I hear people saying that ‘oh my god, that crazy bitch made it’.