Author Archives: NiinaMaria

About NiinaMaria

Eager to craft and thrift. Not always succesfully.

Shopping Therapy a la Tallinn…

Couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine convinced me to go to Tallinn with him and his aunt. My plan was to take some pretty pictures of the lovely Old Town but I forgot to charge my camera battery and got only one shot. Well planned, Niina. Well planned. We only had 4 hours in Tallinn but we managed to eat a lovely lunch and do some shopping…

Tallinn, Kalev chocolate, Thrifty Finn

Kalev-chocolate. I always stop by the Kalev-store when I’m Tallinn because it’s conveniently on the route from the harbour to the Old Town. The chocolate is cheap and delicious, just the way I like it. I might even prefer it over Finnish chocolate manufacturer Fazer.

Tallinna2

There’s this cheap but fantastic shop that sells cosmetics in the Virü-shopping centre. It’s not on the main floors and it’s bit tricky to find but it’s there ;) No, I’m not going to tell you where, you have to find it yourself but anyway, it’s my regular pit stop. I spotted this brand, which I think is Russian and makes 100% organic beauty products. Of course I don’t know how true that claim is but the packaging is pretty and 1.80 for a 100 ml tube is cheap! I got a lifting, moisturizing and refreshing masks. Haven’t tried them though. But that’s not all I got…

Tallinna4

I also got a pore minimizing serum by Organic Therapy for 6.50, a sickly sweet shower gel 0.80, a whitening tooth paste, also under 1 euro, an argan oil moisturizer (it’s for mature skin but for 4 euros, I thought to give it a try) and then couple of cute vaseline lip balms. They were only 35 cents each and I couldn’t resist the packaging:

Russian, lip balm, vaselin, retro packaging, Thrifty Finn

Very retro, very cute. Then, on our way back to the ferry, we stopped at a supermarket to stock up on some basics. I got some kitchen things, a bottle of wine (4 euros!!!) and socks. Glamorous. After I had paid and was re-packing my things on a bench outside the store, my friend comes to me, pushing a shopping trolley filled with booze and exclaims “I found cheap prosecco!” So what is girl to do? Get some said cheap prosecco herself:

prosecco, Tallinn, Thrifty Finn

Finally something glamorous! Just waiting for the perfect occasion to pop these babies open…

-Thrifty Finn-

 

Fashion Drama a la Finland

Finland’s hottest (and probably only) fashion related awards show Elle Style Awards was last week. I had already forgotten about it but my friend called today and told me about a HUGE FASHION SCANDAL! A FASHION CRIME! A crime so heinous they should call the Special Victims Unit!

No, not really.

This is what happened…There is this young fashion blogger named Alexandra, the daughter of famous Finnish journalist and TV-personality Baba Lybeck. They arrived to the gala together and naturally, their photo was taken on the red carpet:

baba lybeck, elle style awards 2014, Finland, Helsinki, fashion

Image via iltalehti.fi

They are both insanely good-looking, don’t you think? Anyhoo, this is where the crime happened. Want to know what it is? Well, when asked what she was wearing, Alexandra (according to Iltalehti) replied vintage.

Aaaaaaand Finnish fashion world went bonkers. Someone spotted that the kimono Alexandra was wearing, is a free Yves Rocher-gift from early nineties. HORROR! Or that’s what people collectively cried. People got so offended that they even posted the outfit on the Finnish Facebook-fails site Feissarimokat with a title Project Runway. So. Much. Burning. A friend of mine linked to another conversation where there were following comments:

“Yves Rocher is replacing Oscar de la Renta”

“I have the matching slippers”

“You would have thought that when the invitation says black tie, you’d take the opportunity to dress up.”

Brutal. So brutal. But the thing is, the girl is 16. The kimono is older than her PLUS 20-year old thing is vintage. Not the best of quality but still…NOT ALL VINTAGE ARE! The girl herself  wrote on her blog that she bought it for 5 euros last summer and got tons of compliments on it during the night. Word. And not to mention, if you can’t experiment and do fashion fails when you are 16, when will you ever find your own style?!?

But I digress. The best comment on the conversation was this and actually captures some relevant issues Finnish fashion industry has:

“In the 80s, the men in the village built a car on a Volkswagen chassis, with fiberglass and called it a Porsche. If someone bought it as a Porsche, it hardly is the seller’s fault. As a media critical person, I bet that the journalist asked her where she got the dress and when she answered “a vintage store” the dress became vintage in the story. This wouldn’t be a huge surprise in this golden era of ‘investigative journalism’. What is notable though that Yves Rocher’s free gift doesn’t look half bad next to the designer items, even though the one who is wearing it adds on the effect. Somewhere, in the depths of the wild jungle they call subcontracting, is a surprising level of design knowhow. “

-Thrifty Finn-

 

 

Refraction: Weekly Photo Challenge

Few days ago my Instagram-feed was filled with cool, fragmented photos. I wanted in on that action too but A. the app was only for iPhones and when I found a version for Android…B. my version of it is too old for the app.

Gee. Thanks.

My obsession got even further when I saw this week’s challenge theme and I thought, maybe someone has already made a tutorial for Photoshop for this effect. No, no such luck. What is girl to do? Well, I didn’t get as far as creating a tutorial or even making something  super wow but I think I got something semi-good looking going on here:

fragmented sky in Helsinki, Finland Fragment2 Fragment3

Töölönlahti in Helsinki, Finland. I think I have potential here for some great graphic designs, don’t you think?

The rest of the interpretations of this week’s theme Refraction are HERE. All of my past challenge entries are HERE. If you have any decent ideas how to progress with this technique, please let me know in the comments.

-Thrifty Finn, terribly pleased with herself-

Pinteresting vol. XLIV

Thrifty Finn Pinterest

Wow. My blog statistics went through the roof, thanks to the Whiskeygate. I broke both my daily record and my monthly record, so thanks for all visiting! I actually have a plan to write about what happened after the #gate but new absurdities keep coming up every day that I can’t keep up. Most likely the new alcohol law will be reviewed because it turned out it conflicts with the constitution. Nice work, parliament! Full thumbs up.

So… To celebrate the Whiskeygate, I decided to gather some of my favourite alcohol bottles from my board Branding & Packaging. Enjoy!

pink limoncello, pinterest, Thrifty Finn

via pinklimoncello.com

Pink Limoncello by LiDestri. The website too is a pink explosion.

Kyrö distillery, werklig, design, Thrifty Finn, Pinterest

Image via bpando.org

Kyrö Distillery is a Finnish company. The company brand identity was designed by Werklig design agency. The awesomeness of this packaging opens up if you visit Kyrö’s website. Hipsterish Finnish men in all their glory ;)

Sangria Lolea, Thrifty Finn. Pinterest, spanish wine

Image by sangrialolea.com

Sangria Lolea. I love these bottles. They really used the spanish cultural heritage to their advantage. Flamenco, anyone? Their website is pretty gorgeous too. The rain definitely doesn’t rain on these plains.

la belle famille, wine, Thrifty Finn, Pinterest

Via emmadime.com

La Belle Famille is an imaginary wine company, imagined by a graphic designer Ali Labelle. I was kind of disappointed that these aren’t real as they are fantastic girlfriend-gifts. Oh well, there are plenty of wine in the world even if these aren’t real. Here’s hoping though.

milk vodka, destileria siderit lactee

Via evistaqrcantabria.com/

This bottle screams luxury. The content sounds disgusting though…milk vodka! Apparently milk can be fermented to make vodka. Eh, the more you know. It’s made by a spanish distillery Siderit. I like the packaging a lot although I’m not sure if it really is an alcohol bottle. Could work much better as a perfume. Do you know what I mean?

There are tons of fantastic designs out there. I rarely bump into a branding board that has less than thousand pins ;) I know that at least one of my followers collects Absolut-bottles. Does anyone else collect any other alcohol bottles for their design?

-Thrifty Finn-

 

 

I <3 Marks & Sparks

You know. I like to think I’m somewhat conscious consumer. I buy what I use and think about the ethical consequences, within my own means of course. But I do appreciate good business too. I can much easier justify spending money on clothes and support textile industry because the materials for those you can re-grow over and over again, where as for smartphones…Once the metallic is dug up, it’s not replenishing itself.

This same goes for all kinds of packaging. I like well designed packaging and I think ALL the packaging in the world should be designed well. Once you use any kind of natural resource, you should use it the best possible way and the sum of all the parts should always be bigger than the basic cost! Nice surroundings and things create nice people.

With these thoughts…Let me tell you how excited I am about MARKS & SPENCER OPENING THEIR FIRST STORE IN FINLAND!!!

Note: This is not an advertisement. I haven’t received any compensation from M&S. I’m just a huge fan of British high street.

marks & spencer helsinki

Last Saturday, after the demonstration against #TTIP (yes, I’m aware of the irony but ethics and business are not mutually exclusive things), I bumped into a friend of mine and convinced him to accompany me to the newly opened store. (I had a good reason for this. I knew I was going to get all kinds of fashion fan-girly embarrassing once in the store. Needed support and backup).

My swooning started already at the entrance. The huge bouquet and dim lighting immediately gave me a feeling of luxury. Me? A luxury buyer? Yes! Please! Butter me up! Butter me up!

marks & spencer Helsinki

The ground floor has the more expensive (still reasonably priced) M&S- brands like Autograph and Per Una. I kept bouncing from one display to one another because I loved every single outfit. This orange coat with the plaid dress with electric blue highlights is a perfect example of everyday luxury that just oozes confidence, style and good taste. And oh glorious…I checked the dress on the hanger and there seems to plenty of room for hips & butt. Praise the English and their pear-shaped lower bodies. Now in Finland!

marks & spencer Helsinki, footwear

The British have perfected the smart casual office style. Even the shoes have details that make sensible shoes cute and sexy. And the price point…I found black ballerinas, leather, with those hidden heels that make ballerinas good shoes instead flat, feet killers for 60 euros! SIXTY EUROS! Usually I have to pay over 100 for them.

M&S has four floors and they are shared with the Finnish department store Sokos. However it’s clear what’s M&S-space and what’s not. There’s signage and of course the presentation is much more well thought:

MarksSparks4

I took a separate tour to the Sokos-side so I could get a full shot of this:

marks & spencer Helsinki

Me and my friend just kept nodding and repeating “they know how to sell, they know how to sell”. Even the music supports this. Very cool, very danceable and very, very selling. It was the kind of music that makes you want you to put your best face and clothes on and go out. M&S (and H&M among others) gets it. Even if I’m buying period panties, I don’t want to think that I HAVE to buy something. I want to want it.

Even the men’s wear department got me all excited.I mean, look at this display:

marks & spencer Helsinki, men's wear

If a guy wearing any of those looks, smelling really good came to me and said even so much a hello, I would put out. Yes, I said it because it needs to be said. A smartly dressed man is same to a woman as a half-naked woman is to a man. Suit catalogs are porno for women.

I have a feeling a lot of men in Helsinki will be finding Marks & Spencer-clothing in their Christmas-socks. Men, if you do, take the hint.

Anyhoo, on the same floor is also a small food section. It mainly has biscuits, candies and other packed snack foods. Do I even need to tell you my excitement level here? If you, like me, are package enthusiast, you love this section. Every single thing in here is such that you can give it as a gift. Even if it’s cheap, the packaging itself makes it a special and more thoughtful gift than, let’s say a TV-mix, from a regular store. Bonus is that you get the fantastic shopping experience.

I bought some chocolate covered honeycomb crunch thingies. Delicious. I joked with the sales assistant that this was my breaking point. After buying this one thing, I won’t be able to stop shopping there :D

My only negative thought is that M&S was brought to Finland by S-Group. S-Group is one of the two chains that control 80% of Finland’s food retail (and presumably a lot of other retail too since they own any kind of retail chain possible), so M&S is not really new competition. That also probably prevents them from opening a full scale M&S food retail space because S-Group wouldn’t want anyone new on their turf. Although the basement of the building where M&S now resides, already has a grocery store and the space would be perfect for M&S.

What comes to the fashion retail, I think the biggest blow will be for Stockmann (that’s the “better” department store in Helsinki). Their clients are more international and they have learned to shop at M&S when abroad. M&S clothes are also better priced and like I said, feel very luxurious. But then again, M&S brought much needed newness to the Helsinki- fashion and shopping scene and could bring everyone’s sales up. From an artistic and designer’s point of view, it’ fantastic have a place where I can get international inspiration. Patterns, cuts, displays…Hopefully an endless treasure trove.

Edited to add: The opening hours Mon-Fri 9-21, Sat 9-18, Sun 12-18

-Thrifty Finn-

P.S. When I got to the lingerie department, the first thing I asked from the manager was that do you have the multi-packs? They did:

marks & spencer Helsinki

H&M just lost about 30-50 euros of business per year from me.