Entrepreneurship gives flexibility for the family
Salla Axelin makes by hand useful artefacts with which she always aims at solving a problem. She solved the child care problems in her own family by becoming an entrepreneur.
Salla Axelin thinks that entrepreneurship does not take up all of her time. On the contrary, it has given her time for other aspects of life, even though she sometimes works on 7 days a week. She started as an entrepreneur seven years ago, after spending one year on alternating leave. The working days in retail trade were long, and the children had to change their day-care place continuously. During the alternating leave she developed an idea of her own handicraft business and expanded it into renovation industry by completing a tiler’s skills demonstration qualification and VTT’s waterproofing certificate.
”It was the best decision I ever made, because the children are only young for a short while, and I still have decades of working life ahead. I wanted to be a mother and wife first and work came after those. For women, arranging things means more choices. My husband also contributes a great deal to our family”, Salla Axelin says.
Her motto is that you will have the time to do everything you want in life.
”As an entrepreneur I can arrange my own schedules. In the morning I’m usually the last one to leave home, and I sometimes have time to play the cards with my sons before they go to school. That’s when my hustle and bustle starts. I prepare the dinner in the morning and my husband heats it before going to the leisure activities with the boys. In the evening I have time to spend with the family”, Ms Axelin says.
A small start has grown gradually
Her own company, Sallan Paja, originated in a dear hobby mainly as sewing work that she could do at home. Gradually the operations have expanded into the manufacture of home utensils, online sales and handicrafts courses. The children are now 10 and 13 years old, and a little over three years ago the company moved from home to separate premises.
An idea for a product usually emerges from finding a solution to a problem. For example, the “kettle hide” made from textile and insulation material keeps the food warm for hours e.g. on a windy terrace outdoors. New ideas often pop up while sewing or driving a car.
”The problem with original products is that people don’t know about them, but the benefit is standing out from the competitors. That’s important especially at fairs. I like to meet people and go to fairs quite often, although it’s rather expensive and requires plenty of preparation.”
Ms Axelin has the ambition to grow her business further in the future. A big dream is focusing on product development only, but handing over the manufacturing to others is a major step, because she is extremely meticulous about high quality.
Involved in many activities
Ms Axelin is an active woman and also finds the time for voluntary work and leisure activities. She is a girl scout for life and often takes care of provisions at different events. For the march of the scouts she cooked sausage soup for a hundred persons. Last winter she was leader at a scout camp.
”Scouting is a great hobby where you get to interact with people of different age. You also learn to manage younger people. I was a scout group leader at a little over 20.”
Another hobby is Paimion Yrittäjät entrepreneurs’ association; Ms Axelin sits in the Board and acts as the secretary. She is happy that the association has a good and active Board. Many different activities are underway.
”Pulling together is important, and I think it’s always a victory if a shop in Paimio is visited, even if it’s not my shop. Networking is needed, because nobody can make it on their own. And it’s vital for entrepreneurs to have as friends other entrepreneurs who understand what it really means. The difference compared to salaried work is huge. You need to take care of everything yourself and you must not fall ill. On the other hand, succeeding in something big gives you a true winner feeling.”
History came alive
At the beginning of May, Sallan Paja moved to a yellow wooden house in the centre of Paimio. Built in 1909, it is a former community hall, also known as the Isku house. The building had been vacant since the 1980s and was waiting to be demolished, but is now populated by young entrepreneurs. The house was bought in March by the Chairman of Paimion Yrittäjät entrepreneurs’ association Anton Simolin together with his brother Joonas. They started right away a major renovation and the clearing of the yard that was running wild.
Moving in was a big effort, and the renovation has not yet been quite finished. The upstairs now houses Mr Simolin’s company Taito LKV, and downstairs there are Sallan Paja and an old banquet hall for which they have many plans.
”It’s suited for arranging parties and conferences and well-being at work days of companies. Lectures, dining and a small handicrafts workshop can be added to programme. Moreover, I now have room for more extensive concrete and brushwood courses in the summer. Some 400 people participate in them per year, though part of them are people who take several courses.”
Sharing gives you more
Many have wondered whether it makes sense to teach people to make the same artefacts that you make for selling.
“The workshops are really great, and the people who come to them would anyway make artefacts themselves. They offer experiences and a feeling of success, as well as increasing the appreciation of handicrafts, and some participants later come to buy my products. The current sharing culture is a positive thing, although the differences between amateurs and professionals is a constant topic of discussion in the field of handicrafts.”
Commercial profitability is not always the number one thing for Salla Axelin; she says that she also does many things that are not profitable.
”I only want to do pleasant things, and the values are important to me. It’s enough for me that we get by, the children can participate in leisure activities, and we eat and live well. I think that the family is happy if the mother is happy.”
One source of happiness is working in the yard. Salla Axelin just loves it.
Text and photos: Anne Kortela
- Born in 1978 in Turku, spent her childhood from 4 years on in Piikkiö
- 2010– entrepreneur
- Company: T:mi Salla Axelin, registered trademark: Sallan Paja in Paimio
- The company makes home utensils
- Also made-to-order products, business gifts and products for fund-raising of associations
- Online shop and resale of cleaning supplies
- Arranges handicraft workshops, e.g. concrete and brushwood workshops
- 1997 matriculation examination, Puolalanmäen lukio upper secondary school, Turku
- Training by S-Group, e.g. supermarket manager
- 2010 Vocational qualification of tiler
- 2016 Specialist qualification of product developer
- 2017 Vocational qualification in sales
- Summer jobs in a market garden and shop during school years
- 1997–2009 retail jobs in FMCG shops of Kesko and S-Group
- 2009–2010 on alternating leave
- 2010 founded own company, Sallan Paja in Paimio
- 2013 the company moved from home to its own premises
- 5/2017 Sallan Paja moved to the Isku house in the centre of Paimio
- Lives with her family in Paimio
- Husband and two sons (aged 10 and 13 years)
- Handicrafts in a broad sense
- Scouting, scout group: Piikkiön Tammipartio
- Paimion Yrittäjät entrepreneurs’ association, Board member, secretary/information officer