Promoting diverse beauty from Northern Finland
Kate is an ambitious woman but she has been challenged in fulfilling her goals because of her appearance. How she looks is her business, and she literally decided to make it her Business. She is now an entrepreneur promoting body positivity, and the W-POWER Interreg project just gave her the push she needed to take off.need translation with this page?
Kate Suopajarvi, founder at Arctic Cherry comes from Rovaniemi, a town in Northern Finland known for being the hometown of Santa Claus. She has lived there most of her life, and her business is the story of her life.
Since I was a child, I enjoyed performing, but suffered the looks and judgment of people disappointed in my appearance.
‘Since I was a child, I enjoyed performing, but suffered the looks and judgment of people disappointed in my appearance. I was discriminated, my joy and ambition were frustrated, and I greatly suffered from this. Still, I pursued a career in modelling and performance, again to realise that plus-sized models have a harder time getting photographers for their own portfolio shootings. This makes it more difficult to find new job opportunities. In such circumstances, thinking about diversity is not even possible. I found this so discouraging.
As an adult, I woke up to the truth that not everyone is on an equal footing and that personal and structural discrimination can ruin your life. While it’s hard to change the minds of those who think poorly about others, it’s a good start if you can help those who are targets of discriminatory thinking feel more confident.
I believe the visibility of diverse, different shaped and sized bodies can increase the overall acceptance and conception that everyone can see themselves as acceptable. For this reason, I decided to take on clothing design. I wanted to use it to promote body positivity, and my motto became “for diverse beauty”. And that’s when the Interreg W-POWER project entered my life’.
W-Power works with women entrepreneurs in sparsely populated areas in Northern and Arctic Europe. Women leaving their hometowns in the High North is one of the main challenges to beat in the region. That is why W-POWER is set to increase equality and the contribution of women to regional economies, by encouraging them to set-up, develop and grow their businesses. The first thing Kate found interesting in the project was its name: ‘Putting the focus on women entrepreneur felt good and empowering, I wanted to be involved!’
W-POWER organised several training events offered by local women entrepreneurs targeting other businesswomen. ‘Reaching out to new customers is the primary objective of any business. The W-POWER course taught me how to use social media in my own marketing effort. I also learned how to build my website, which happened to be something I needed help with. In my business, websites are more important than a business card and without W-POWER, I probably still wouldn’t have it.
Participating in the project turned out to be a valuable experience and opportunity especially for the long-term connections and networks established. I have grown an international network for myself, and I am in constant and regular contact with the people I met through the project. We exchange ideas and give each other peer support. Through W-Power I also practiced and developed pitching my own products and services’.
Even when the pandemic seemed to be cutting off all connections, W-POWER business women participating in the project continued to support other businesswomen by turning their events into online transnational coffees and even a podcast.
The networks I have built through the project have directly impacted the visibility, job opportunities, and income I have gained
‘This Interreg project experience was great and important to me in every way. I have received a lot of good and encouraging feedback. The networks I have built through the project have directly impacted the visibility, job opportunities, and income I have gained. I am now developing a new service concept for my clothing business. Next year, I plan to launch it, finish my studies, and become a full-time entrepreneur.’
The W-POWER project aims for equal growth and increase in the contribution of women to regional economy in sparsely populated Northern and Arctic communities, as women leaving the North is one of the main challenges to beat in the region. More information and contact details, visit the project’s website: https://w-power.interreg-npa.eu/