Every two years, the Taitoliitto distributes the national Taito Prize, which is the most significant Finnish recognition prize for craft entrepreneurship.
The prize is 6,000 euros and is donated by LähiTapiola. 39 different handicraft companies and actors from all over Finland were nominated for the award. There were various companies involved, very small single-person companies and companies employing several people. The winner was chosen by a prize jury nominated by the Skills Association and the jury also decided to give two honorable mentions. The jury was chaired by Jenni Haukio, the patron of the Arts Union, the wife of the President of the Republic.
Skill Award 2020
Jenni Vanhanen, Iltamaa, Jen’s Finland Oy
The Iltamaa ryarugs in Nummela combine traditional, Finnish material, textile art and technology with new and modern design. Jenni Vanhanen has a long career in the IT field and has combined her expertise in the field of information technology with traditional Finnish ryarugs. Ryarugs are custom-made, produced on an ethically and ecologically sustainable basis, which do not consume natural resources and are long-lasting when well-preserved. The Taito Prize Jury considered the opportunity to combine your
own photo with traditional Finnish ryarug technology as an interesting new market area that can find completely new customers for rya rugs.
”I am happy to be able to combine IT knowledge, international experience and love for the craftsmanship through these products. Crafts can also be used to maintain brain functions and, through rugs, I can help a wide variety of people realize themselves and maintain an active thought processes. It is important for me to promote the employment of people who have difficulty finding employment, and I also invest in the introduction of their skills in my company, ”says Jenni Vanhanen.
While the company aims to make an international breakthrough, Jenni invests in four values in its operations. The Iltamaa brand strongly reflects domestic local production, ecology, equality and nature.
All activities are carried out according to these values. Jenni Vanhanen considers it especially important to create opportunities for hard-to-employ and mentally handicapped professionals. She has hired both rehabilitators and young people for her company and collaborates with various actors with developmental disabilities.
Jenni’s close circle includes a mentally disabled sister and a visually impaired cousin, whose employment and pursuit of the profession has been closely monitored by Jenni and she hopes to be able to influence and highlight barriers to the employment of special groups.
Iltamaa has also strongly highlighted the utilization of Finnish wool, and in the past a wool pilot was carried out with a local sheep farm to test how the wool of domestic country breeds fits into ryarug yarn. The yarn was spun in Finland. Finnish clean, undyed wool is perfect for ryarugs designed from your own pictures.
In addition to custom made ryarugs, Iltamaa organizes ryarug courses, makes customized ryarug packages from the customer’s own photo, and the next step in the operation will be to implement online courses.