When you think of Finnish brands, what do you think of? I mean, without hitting up Google.
Don’t worry. I was stumped too. All I could think of was Finlandia Vodka. Other than that, everything I could possibly think of was Scandanavian in nature but not from Finland.
IKEA = You know this one. It’s based in Sweden.
Saab = Also Swedish. Now defunct.
Volvo = Yep. Swedish.
Nokia = Oh wait! This one is from Finland!
While I was vacationing in Finland, I stumbled across some pretty amazing Finnish brands, some of which you’ve heard of but probably didn’t realize were Finnish. And the best part is that many of these brands are global. So if you fall in love with these Finnish brands too, you won’t have to necessarily go all the way to Finland (but I won’t discourage you either!).
Finnish Style Brand: Marimekko
I’ve been a Marimekko fan for a long time. Probably since I received this American Tourister suitcase as part of a sponsored Disney trip. That suitcase has since traveled all over the country with me. I’m not really a pink person but I can guarantee that I can always find my luggage.
You may recognize that famous flowered pattern as well. It’s found all over the place. But I never really thought about the brand itself. I (stupidly) assumed that Marimekko was the name of a Japanese designer. It kind of sounds Japanese, right?
Turns out that Marimekko is an iconic Finnish design house founded in 1951 by Viljo and Armi Ratia in Helsinki. As such, you can find the flagship store in Helsinki featuring home goods, textiles, clothing, and handbags.
I’m not normally a designer kind of girl (not that I don’t love designer brands but I’m frugal) but everywhere I went, I saw this adorable black Marimekko handbag (it’s the Marimekko Gratha bag) and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was pricey but I did my research and found a true Marimekko outlet where I found my bag and received 10% off the regular price (and it was much cheaper in Finland than online).
As I went to check out, the clerk assured me that “this is a very popular handbag in Finland right now.” I know, I thought. I was seeing it everywhere! So I splurged and I love it. And now I’m on their mailing list.
PRO TIP: Visit the true factory outlet just outside of Helsinki for great prices on older products and discounts on current ones.
Marimekko Outlet Herttoniemi
+358 9 7587244
Finnish Skincare Brand: Lumene
I remember reading about Lumene years ago in some non-descript beauty magazine. I think I even bought a few of this “drugstore” brand of products. It wasn’t memorable and was quickly forgotten.
Lumene was first introduced in 1970 by the pharmaceutical company Orion, named after Lake Lummenne, located in Kuhmoinen, Central Finland. It’s now one of the leading Finnish beauty brands focused on Nordic-inspired ingredients.
I rediscovered the brand while visiting the Nordic Beauty Concept X Lumene store in the Helsinki Outlets. While I was confused upon entering and seeing Korean brands, that quickly gave way to an entire wall of Lumene skincare and cosmetics – way more than I had ever seen in the United States. And it was cheap!
I stocked up on the Nordic Hydra Oat Milk Oil Cleanser, Revitalizing Rich Eye Cream, Revitalizing Rich Serum, and the Nordic Bloom Anti-Wrinkle & Firm Day Moisturizer and Night Moisturizer. Not only that, but I bought a slew of skincare from their men’s line for my son who has decided now might be a good time to start taking care of his skin.
So far, I love the products and since, as I age, I seem to have drier skin prone to wrinkles, it thought it might be a good idea to embrace the skincare that carries the Finns through the harsh winters.
Pro Tip: Head to the Helsinki Outlets, grab a coffee at Espresso House, and head to the Nordic Beauty Concept and stock up on Lumene.
Nordic Beauty Concept X Lumene
Finnish Chocolate Brand: Fazer
Before I traveled to Finland, I did hear that they are known for coffee and chocolate. But I think that meant simply drinking coffee and perhaps eating chocolate. No one is growing coffee beans in Finland but they are making gourmet chocolate.
Fazer is a widely recognized chocolate and confectionary brand in Finland. Founded in 1891, Karl Fazer’s milk chocolate is a part of Finnish cultural heritage, recognizable by its iconic blue wrapper symbolizing the Finnish nature.
Although we had seen it in our travels, we decided to explore the sweets by going straight to the source, the Fazer Experience Store. Think of it as Hershey’s Chocolate World, but for Finnish chocolate!
They offer tours every day but unfortunately, tours in English are only available on Friday and Saturday. We visited on a Wednesday so we settled for shopping at their chocolate store (there’s also a café on site).
We stocked up on plenty of chocolates to bring back as gifts (this is just a small fraction of what we bought!).
Expect to see lots of school groups while you’re there but also look at what the kids are buying. I ended up buying a few candy bars and sweets as a result. And when you’re in Finland, you really should try the salted licorice!
Pro tip: Visit on a Friday or Saturday if you want the one hour tour in English. Otherwise, just go and shop!
Fazer Experience Visitor Centre
+358 9 8762040
Finnish Alcohol Brand: Longdrink
I saw plenty of bottles of Longdrink everywhere I went. But I saw most of them when I was returning on the Tallink ferry from Estonia after a day trip to Tallinn.
When boarding for our return ferry, we saw so many people with hand trucks or trolleys of CASES of alcohol, most of which was Longdrink. I had no idea what it was but it was clearly very popular (and also much cheaper to buy duty free on your way back into Finland!).
One night as I was preparing for the sauna, as one does in Finland, the hotel front desk clerk asked if I’d like a cold drink to take with me, as most Finns do. I asked about the Longdrink and she told me it’s very popular in Finland and it’s one of her favorite drinks when she goes out for the evening.
I tried the OriGINal flavor as they put it, the play on words highlighting the main ingredient, gin. Think of this as a canned cocktail, with the original flavor being a light Gin & Grapefruit. And the best part is that it’s only 5.5% alcohol, so very similar to a beer.
Pro tip: There’s no special place to enjoy a Longdrink when visiting Finland. You’ll find it all over. But if you’re home in the United States, fear not! The Longdrink is here! Visit their website to find a retailer near you.
Finnish Pop Culture Brand: Moomin
From the moment I entered Helsinki airport, I was intrigued by these odd characters called the Moomins. After seeing them and their merchandise literally everywhere in Finland, I asked my old blogging friend and Finland resident, Katja, what the deal was with these Moomins.
She explained that these characters are from a series of children’s books. But these books can be appreciated even as one grows into adulthood as the themes (and humor) have many layers. So I bought one of the books as I left Finland and read Tales from Moominvalley, a collection of short stories, on the way home.
My Goodreads review says it all:
I would have never expected that a trip to Finland would introduce me to a children’s book that I would give a 5 star review to. I’ve never heard of the Mormons but they are quite beloved throughout Finland (even with their own theme park!).
I picked up this book of short stories at the airport to see what the fuss was all about. Delightful and thoughtful and introspective are all words to describe these imaginative stories that at the surface are entertaining stories for children. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find stories about longing and dissatisfaction and anxiety and midlife crisis. I’m just sorry that I’ve only just now discovered the Moomins!
Now I just need to watch the Moomin television show and head back to Finland to buy all the Moomin merch and head to Moominworld!
Pro tip: If you want to visit a Moomin themed park, take a ride out to Naantali and visit Moominworld, only open during the summer months.
+358 2 5111111
When I visit other countries and other cultures, I love to embrace what makes them special and unique. And while it’s not about the materialistic goods, I really enjoyed exploring some of these Finnish brands that gave me a little insight into Finnish design and culture.
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