Portrait: Katja von KIKS aus Finnland

Wir wollen Euch zukünftig mehr von den Menschen berichten, die hinter unseren Marken stehen. Was hat sie motiviert, ein grünes Label zu gründen? Was treibt sie an? Wo soll die Reise hingehen? Und ganz wichtig: die Quick 5. Den Anfang macht Katja von KIKS. Das finnische Eco-Label ist seit letzem Jahr in unserem zündstoff-Sortiment zu finden und die Jacken aus upgecyceltem Material erfreuen sich großer Beliebtheit. Viel Spaß mit dem Interview!

Quick 5:

1. Coffee or tea? Coffee

2. Early bird or night owl? Night owl

3. Summer or winter? The end of summer – autumn, that is!

4. Yoga or hiking? Hiking

5. Green smoothies or steak? Smoothies – though I usually make them red with Finnish berries

Katja / KIKS in 5 words:

Creative, determined, analytic, optimistic, passionate / timeless, versatile, genderfree, ethical, urban.

What does the brand name ‚KIKS‘ stand for? Is it an abreviation for something? And how did you come up with it?

I used to have a double surname and KIKS is actually my initials plus the genitive S! At first it was written Kik’s but after one or two years I decided to simplify it to KIKS. On top of that, it’s a Finnish version of kicks, a synonym for good vibes. I think I had the name in my mind long before I actually started the brand!

What’s your favorite part about your job? Do you work full-time for KIKS or do you do something else on the side?

It would probably be easier to list the least favourite part – basically all the paperwork. I handle the whole process of garment-making from design to pattern-making, cutting and sewing and like all these phases as long as I can make my days variable. I also work in our Oulu and Helsinki shops a few days per month each. The design and pattern-making for new styles is probably my favourite thing to do. I also run another clothing label/art project called Iljana and keep myself busy making music, djing, producing events such as club nights, shows or other happenings and staying active in the local culture scene. KIKS, however, is my longest-running project and my main job.

How many people are working with you?

We currently have a three-person team: Tiina cuts most of the jackets, Janita does part of the sewing and I do all the rest. At the moment we don’t work in the same space but communicate regularly. I am also looking for another dressmaker to add to the team, to release more of my own time for creative work, management and marketing.

How long does it take from the first drawing to the final jacket?

Sometimes it takes years, sometimes it takes a day! However, the very first sample is rarely the final one and there’s usually something to fix. I usually test the products on myself or a close friend to detect and fix it’s weak points. But the more experienced I get, the less reruns my designs need. Sometimes we also make adjustments to the existing styles based on customer feedback: for example the reflective tapes in our Acts Wool jacket were added because our customers requested we’d include some kind of reflector.

Where do you source the surplus army fabric? And is it also being used for something else?

We source it from a Finnish social enterprise who used to work for and still repair some items for the Finnish army. It was originally made in Finland. As far as I know they don’t use it for anything else at the moment. The company who produced it went bankrupt in the early 90s when the majority of Finnish clothing industry died and moved abroad. There is still a lot of high-quality fabrics lying around from that era, one just has to find them. This stock is gonna run out at some point – then we will look into other sources or different kind of options like recycled fibers.

Do you also spend your summers producing warm winter jackets?

We aim to have no stocks so production-wise we are only a little bit ahead. This year, for example, we started producing the winter orders at the end of July. New styles of course need a bit more time and testing so I usually start working on them 6-12 months before the actual release.

How many jackets do you produce each year?

At the moment we’re producing around 120 jackets per year.

Do you see a lot of your jackets in the streets? How does that make you feel to see people wearing your jackets?

Most of our customers are still in Finland so I bump into my designs quite often. They start living their own life once on a person so sometimes I have to look twice to recognize it’s actually KIKS! It’s always a nice tingling feeling, like meeting an old friend.

What’s your vision for the next 3 years?

My vision for KIKS is to grow slowly, steadily and sustainably. I wanna invent new system for commissions to support our no stocks and no seasons -thinking. I also hope to do more good socially by participating in campaigns, raising money and awareness on matters I find important. Design-wise I have too many ideas and want to release time from the production to explore new materials and designs. My future vision for my free time also includes making more music!

Elämyspuisto Oulu 2013 / Kuva: Tomi Hurskainen

Wir freuen uns, dass Katja an Bord ist und wünschen ihr alles Gute!