Hand-Picked by Johanna
Every year, Johanna Gullichsen selects an artisan or artist’s product for the Christmas range in her Helsinki stores. This year, she chose Siljatuomipuu’s joyfully colored baskets. These versatile baskets can be used as Christmas presents, for picking mushrooms, handicrafts, or for shopping.
Siljatuomipuu is Jannamari Puustjärvi’s company, which produces baskets from recycled plastic. The technique is the same as for traditional wooden baskets. Puustjärvi likes the material because it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and food-safe. Of course, Puustjärvi also likes wooden pear baskets and finds them beautiful, but she prefers to use recycled material and let the trees grow in peace in the Finnish forests.
Nature and animals are essential to Puustjärvi, who lives in the countryside with her husband, six cats, a pony, and a horse. Sasu, a 170-centimetre horse, spends his retirement with Urho, a 68-centimetre pony. They make a great duo, with Sasu setting the pace and Urho following when he feels like it. Sasu, a 170-centimetre horse, spends his retirement with Urho, a 68-centimetre pony. They make a great duo, with Sasu setting the pace and Urho following when he feels like it.
Working Life and Entrepreneurship
Puustjärvi’s career has been eventful. In her youth, she was interested in many things, including architecture. Puustjärvi started studying civil engineering at the University of Oulu. However, it soon became apparent that she could not work in the field because of her failing eyesight. Puustjärvi changed her major to information technology and worked in the industry for 25 years, the last 15 years at Nokia.
Eventually, failing eyesight made the job, with its many business trips, too complicated, and she looked for a new career. In 2014, Puustjärvi attended a vocational training course at Iiris, a centre for the visually impaired, where she learned how to weave baskets. By the end of the year, she had started her own business.
Despite having very little colour vision, she enjoys bold colour choices and designs many of the basket’s colours herself. “I quickly learned the weaving and braiding techniques and was soon able to produce high-quality baskets,” says Puustjärvi. Over the years, she has refined her technique, developed her working methods, and even invented her own tool to finish the baskets neatly.
Craftsmanship is a resourceful and meaningful work for Puustjärvi. While weaving, she often listens to music and lets her mind wander. Making things by hand is also relaxing, and the feeling in her hands only gets better with experience. Puustjärvi hopes that the products she makes will be used often. “I want to make practical and useful products; our world cannot accept more unnecessary or bad products,” says Puustjärvi.
Towards new challenges
The baskets can currently be ordered from the Siljatuomipuu website. During the summer, Puustjärvi sells the products at various markets and events. During Christmas, Puustjärvi will be at the Ruokava fair in Somero on the 25th and 26th of November, 2023.
Shortly, the goal is to improve the shopping features of the website and open a small shop next to the home. The old wooden shed is already being transformed into a cute red and white shop with a terrace, and hopefully, it will open this summer.