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.

 

The Grand Whiskeygate of Finland

Oh my, oh my, oh my. You know. You try to love your country. See the good and participate in things that would make it even better but sometimes, just sometimes, that country of yours makes it so damn hard…

I got home about an hour ago, around 22.00 and as I always do, I got online and logged in on Twitter. What was the first thing I saw? Something, something whiskey and the hashtag #viskigate, in English #whiskeygate.

What?

Is this?

glenmorangie, alcohol law, Finland

Glenmorangie website viewed from Finland

The tweets kept coming and at last I spotted a link to an article on Helsingin Sanomat and boy, did I get some information. I’m going to try to translate it here. Pardon again about the quality. And yes, this is very much true and very much happened in the year 2014…

Aluehallintavirasto, short AVI (The Regional Government Authority), banned two Finnish bloggers from writing about whiskey if it’s connected to the upcoming Beer & Whiskey Expo. Also the organizers of the expo had to drop the word whiskey from the expo name.

Now the expo, organized under the new name Olutexpo Finland (Beerexpo Finland) got their license from AVI on the condition that no links from Google comes to their site with the search word “whisky”, tells the organizer Mikki Nyman.

Due to the demands of AVI, Nyman had to ask those two bloggers to remove from their blogs all the mentions of whiskey.

Bloggers Jaakko Matikainen of Jaskankaljat-blog and Nikolas of Mushimalt-blog tells us that originally they got a permit from VALVIRA, the authority that oversees alcohol permits in Finland, to write on their blogs what kind of whiskeys the expo is offering and describe them.

“I wanted to do everything by the book, so I wouldn’t cause any trouble to anyone. They gave us clear instructions: financial compensation from the texts wouldn’t be allowed and the prices of the whiskies cannot be mentioned. Clear advertising blurbs were definitely banned”, tells Matikainen.

Suddenly this week AVI contacted Mikki Nyman. AVI disagreed with VALVIRA. According to AVI, all logos and whiskey- related mentions are banned- both on the expo’s own website as well as on personal blogs that write about the expo.

“Nyman contacted me and Jaakko. He asked us to remove the headlines and whiskey-words that are directly connected to the even or else they will lose their license”, tells Nikolas.

“My first reaction was that has the controlling of private citizens begun? I removed all the logos and mentions as per requested. Then I thought, what if I had left the logos there? Would it have proceeded to the point where the entire event would have been cancelled, because of one person who has nothing to do with the organizing the said event?” Nikolas asks.

Aluehallintovirasto’s view is that the event advertises through private blogs. “They decided that we are somehow part of it, even though we’re not”, says Nikolas.

Jaakko Matikainen agreed to clean up his blog.

“I don’t want to be the beer blog, that prevents the entire expo from happening. It wouldn’t make sense”, says Matikainen.

Matikainen tells, that now everyone has to proceed with care that AVI won’t cancel the permits at the last minute.

“I don’t want to pick up a fight with someone I can’t win. As soon as the expo is over, I can ask if the citizens right to free speech is offended”, says Matikainen.

Last spring Mikki Nyman applied and got a license from PRH (the authority for trademarks and business names) for Olut & Viskiexpo Finland, Beer & Whiskey Expo Finland. Nyman is amazed that another authority blocks the use of a legally acquired business name.

“After the event I’m contacting PRH. I’m making an official enquiry, because I want it on black and white why I’m prevented form using my company’s official name”, says Nyman.

According to Nyman, the license to serve alcohol was granted yesterday after the two bloggers had removed the whiskey-mentions.

“If Nikolas would have continued call the event Beer & Whiskey Expo and wouldn’t have changed his writings, I couldn’t have done anything about it. The license to serve alcohol would have been evoked and I would have been driven to bankruptcy”, says Nyman.

No one from the Aluehallintovirasto was reached for an interview.

I don’t know about you but I see plenty of problems with this. Aluehallintovirasto expects one person in Finland to moderate entire Google’s content. They also specified two bloggers and decided that they are somehow paid employee’s and/or owners of the event without any basis. And then they proceeded to put those two people on the position of responsibility, effectively blackmailing them. Does this know mean that anyone can be put in this position? If someone starts a business and I write about it, can I be forced to change my text under the threat that the person I don’t know will lose their livelihood if I don’t?

Finland has one of the most insane alcohol laws in the world. We have to buy alcohol from state-owned stores, which opening hours are very much restricted. Starting from January 2015 ALL alcohol advertising is banned in Finland, however I pretty much doubt that Alko, the state-owned store has to abide by that rule.

Scottish whisky maker Glenmorangie was quick to react in the decision and has blocked their site for Finnish IP-addresses.

I can’t even right now. Anything.

Edited to add… Blogger and producer Martti Lindholm of blog.themartti.com gathered some interesting Twitter-data regarding the #whiskeygate:

whiskeygate Finland, Twitter, data, hashtags Collective 7000 tweets about whiskey. Well done, Finland. Well done.

 

-Thrifty Finn, exceptionally exasperated today-

P.S. Seems that this whole fiasco is the work of one woman, Anneli Taina, the director of Southern Finland’s Aluehallintovirasto.

Dreamy: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s theme on the WP Photo Challenge is ‘Dreamy’. I decided on some sweet flowers in a park in Paris…

paris, park, flowers Dreamy2 Dreamy3

I used various photo actions on them. Define & Sharpen by The Pioneer Woman and Mayfair and X-Pro II from the Instagram- action set. They are all available to download for free. Just google them.

If you are interested in other interpretations of this week’s theme, they are HERE. My previous challenge entry is HERE and rest of my entries are HERE.

-Thrifty Finn-

The Language Barrier

Warning. This post will be the reason why I go to hell when I die. Please, proceed.

You know. Branding is very important. You want your brand to evoke feelings, emotions and memories and hopefully turn those into sales. Some people might spend years to develop their brand before they dare to start a business. There’s so much to take in consideration. Style, colours, fonts and the most important, the name. You want something memorable and something that rolls easily off the tongue.

Personally, I love many brands. I have my favourites in craft supplies, cosmetics and fashion but I do like to like brands even if I don’t personally buy anything from them. Children’s wear for example.

Kulli, knitwear, kids

Kulli is, I think, a Spanish, indie knitwear maker. Isn’t he a cutie? And the logo looks fantastic! How about this one:

molo, children's wear, logo

Molo is a Danish company and they have very cool philosophy behind their clothes. And the clothes do look very cool too:

molo clothing

You might be wondering, why would she go to hell? This is just a post about children’s wear brands.

LET ME TELL YOU WHY!

It’s a post about two children’s wear brands whose names mean PENIS in Finnish! Not even pretty penis names. They mean DICK! Dick in its ugliest forms!

GOD! Didn’t they check when they were branding? Didn’t they Google? HORROR! There we have Molo brand logo with the word PENIS and the handprint next to it. Then the kid is wearing a shirt that effectively says “Raised by a PENIS”. And Kulli? That’s the word you use of penis when someone sends you a d*ck pic via social media.

Yeah, I maybe burning in hell for all the eternity for telling you about this but people need to know:

WHEN BRANDING, TAKE YOUR TIME WHEN CHOOSING THE NAME.

-Thrifty Finn-

Edited to add…P.S. The shirt the boy is wearing is named Casual Whisper. The creep level just went through the roof.

 

 

 

 

Pinteresting vol XLIII

Thrifty Finn, pinterest, banner design

Technology hasn’t been my friend lately. True, part of it has been my own fault. How hard it is to save your work every once in a while? Apparently too hard. For me at least. Anyhoo…Autumn is here although not a very cold one yet. Trees are changing colour and at least up north, the first snow has fallen too. Here are some of my latest pins, inspired by winter and autumn.

Finland in autumn, coast, reeds, ruohikkoa rannikolla

Image by Niklas Günsberg

The photographer is a Finnish guy I know via Twitter. He posted a link on Ello this morning and I immediately proceeded to pin several of his images. He is quite talented and if you are a Finnophile, you should get a kick out of his nature photos. The link to his Flickr is HERE. From my board Finland Things.

snowy mountains and a cabin

Via atlandsend.tumblr.com

I’ve only once seen mountains up close. I was on the first grade and our school (together with two other schools in the area) took a class trip to Norway. It was lovely. My aunt, who was one of the guardians, got exasperated with me because I wanted to take a picture of every single mountain and collect every single sea shell from the beach. I didn’t get everything but I got enough. When I got home, I filled an old plastic chocolate box with sand and lovingly paired the correct shell halves with each other and presented them in the box. This lasted for about a month till the next Grand Cleaning by Grandmother. To trash they went. I was furious. From my board Moods & Atmospheres.

let's be adventurers, quote, DIY, banner

Via pinterest.com

I’m my most energized during autumn. For me, spring and autumn are the seasons for doing things. Summer and winter are static seasons. Nothing ever happens then. This banner would be a fantastic daily reminder to be an adventurer, to be a person that makes things happen. As a craft, an inexpensive too. Leather scraps are easy to come by and there’s always at least one horrible 80s leather jacket for sale at any flea market at any given time. The banner would be quite nice as a gift too. From my board Crafty Things.

Peter Fehrentz, interior design

Design by Peter Fehrentz

Some time ago, I binge watched Parks & Recreation on Netflix. I <3 Leslie Knopes and Ron Swanson. Yeah, yeah, I’m about million years behind in the accolades but that show is the best! You might wonder what a cabinet by a German interior designer has to do with Parks & Rec. Well I’m glad to tell you…You know the wallpaper they have in the department? With the ducks? At first I thought it was hideous but I grew to like it as the show progressed and now I kind of want to bring something like that to my house too. A complete wallpaper would be a no-no (I’m still dreaming of the gold polkadot one) but how about covering a chest of drawers or a cabinet with it? Ah-mazing. Any kind of pastoral scene would work, don’t you think? From my board formerly known as My Dream Home, now a boring Home & Style.

caramel dipped pears

Via just-between-friends.com

Is it just me or does anyone else want to hoard layers of fat around themselves when it gets colder? Just me? Great. I pinned this some time ago and am amazed it didn’t get any more re-pins. Just look at it? Imagine eating this with some vanilla ice cream and wash it down it mulled wine. Mmmm. Wine. Wine is delicious. From my board Sweet & Sweeter.

And last but not least…Since the winter IS coming after all:

Arya Stark, Game of Thrones, winter is coming

Via stormbornvalkyrie.tumblr.com

Arya. Everyone’s favourite Stark. From the board Game of Thrones. Question…Is The Hound dead or not?

-Thrifty Finn-

P.S. Now I know where my tendency to hoard craft supplies comes from. I can directly trace it to that traumatic event when my grandma threw my precious sea shells away. Dammit, grandma!

P.P.S. The link to my full Pinterest-profile is HERE and all of my related blog posts are HERE.