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Finnish Men in Bed: Sultan’s Somewhat Irritating Marketing Campaign

Finnish Culture, Finnish girls, Finnish men

Have you seen the latest marketing campaign by Kaalimato? This company sells Sultan Condoms and its tagline is “sex without surprises since 1967.”. The marketing campaign irritated the hell out of me since it kept blasting before my youtube videos could play.

QUOTE: “These exclusive product kits set the mood by providing a glimpse of Finnish sex, all the way from midsummer bonfires to the long and cold winters.”

And then:

“But what makes Finnish sex so great? We’ve broken it down to six simple steps that can help anyone f*ck a bit more like a Finn. With the help of this toolkit, you, too, can create a sexual culture worth bragging about.”

Finnish Men in Bed: THE MYTH.

Well I have no idea how true whatever is on their landing page, including the citation of “Finns are the most active condom users in the Nordics”. Perhaps these claims are all storytelling–The marketers did not cite ANY sources! However, my gut-feeling tells me that it is this sort of story-telling that a lot in the (stupid) masses will fall for.

Obviously this is myth creation– Read Dr. Gareth Rice’s and Dr. Alf Rehn’s accounts on how Finns are the best myth spinners on Earth. And no, Dr. Gareth Rice did not mean “myth creation” in a positive manner, and he substantiated his statements with solid data.

No wonder Finland needs more good marketers. For example, in selling condoms, the marketers at Sultan wrote a contradicting point: “Finns really take care of New Parents”. And yeah they cited the legendary Finnish Baby Box.

finnish men in bed

If mistakes are so easily forgiven and there are few negative consequences, then why do we need to buy Sultan condoms?  *Roll eyes*

What a waste of time and money. At any rate, I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep blasting youtube ads before youtube videos because NOW I have a really bad impression of this brand.

[The Hieno! Suomi 100 Series] Interview with Eero Böök, the slightly mysterious Finnish gentleman.

Finnish men, Finnish People, Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office
Eero Böök

Today, as part of The Hieno! “What is Finnish-ness” series celebrating Suomi 100 in 2017, we feature the slightly mysterious and super hot Finnish gentleman Eero Böök!

Personally, I´d always found Eero to be wise. Through his example, I’d learnt to always make it a point to treat people with importance and kindness. Eero has extensive experience in fashion and retail in Finland and abroad, and we are very happy to have him on board The Hieno! Suomi 100 series.~

Enjoy the interview! ♡


TH: Moikka Eero! Thank you for accepting our interview. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your experiences in fashion/retail?

Eero Böök: Hey.

I am Eero Böök. Originally from the small seaside city Naantali in Finland and currently living in London.

I have been working in fashion retail in multiple positions and also in different countries and companies. This has given me invaluable insights to the entity of retail.

At the moment, I am studying Business Management and Fashion marketing in London Metropolitan University. Besides my studies, I am also working for the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

Perhaps these key words describe my personality more: Dreamer, wine (sparkling), whimsy, with a million different alter-egos.

 

TH: You have such a long and rich working experience in fashion and retail. Are there obvious differences in how a Finn would dress in the countryside, vis-a- vis in a more city-like area like Helsinki?

Eero Böök: I definitely think there is a big difference to how people dress up in different parts of Finland.

One of the most obvious reason is the varying availability of brands. In the smaller communities, it is a lot harder to find pieces which are not in line as the biggest trends. This is because usually in smaller towns, the only option is to purchase from the biggest retail companies.

Having said that however, the situation has indeed developed a lot because of the emergence of online retailers and social media “marketplaces”.

For people who are interested in luxury ready-to-wear the situation is harder. The markets are too small to attract big European luxury brands. When you are making a purchase, like 3000 euros for a coat, you most probably want to feel the materials and see the actual piece before making your purchase decision.

Of course, there is the possibility to return the items purchased online. Unfortunately, I know from my own experience that sometimes you just don’t want to go through all that packing and delivery hassle, so you will end up keeping the piece you actually didn’t love.

There are also some cultural points as well. I grew up in the city called Naantali and from the fashion point-of-view I perhaps would not compare that small seaside city to Helsinki. You see, powerful self-expression through clothes might confuse the people who are mainly wearing something practical like wellies instead of Guiseppe Zanotti heels.

So, this context might prove to be a challenge for people who really have the need to express themselves, because courage is needed to show up to work or school in striking outfit. For sure you will be noticed and maybe not in the nicest way.

This might especially apply if the person is playing with clothes that will create androgynous looks. I think we are still really stuck with gender-ism when it comes to clothing.

With time I am sure that people in smaller cities would get used to these different outfits like they got used to “sushi and cronuts”. *Just kidding.*

Unfortunately, the courage and inspiration might fade away from the person before we reach that level. Creativity needs support, open space and open minds.

 

TH: Why are Finnish guys and ladies so hot? Actually, why are you so hot?

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Eero Böök: Why are Finnish people hot.

Well, usually the best things are a bit hidden from publicity. Maybe this logic applies in this case as well – we have 5 million hidden gems in Finland!

I am very flattered if you find me as one of these crown jewels.

 

TH: *♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡* As an expert in retail, can you share with us some insiders’ secrets on how to dress to impress a Finn?

Eero Böök: Well, when it comes to the topic of how to impress Finnish people I am sure that I am not the best person to ask.

This is because I have actually never dated any Finnish guy successfully. If I give any tips it would become a “blind leads blind” situation.

But if anyone knows the answer, please do not hesitate to contact me. *Laughs*.

 

TH: Well, they can contact *us*! :DDDDD ~ As a professional in fashion marketing and retail, who/what inspires you?

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Eero Böök: From the fashion marketing perspective, I’d been inspired by how big and old fashion houses are making campaigns with new generation stars like Selena Gomez, Willow and Jaden Smith.

This combination has been very successful for the companies, as they are getting new customers and publicity through social media. The visuals have been spectacular and the power of young fans is incredible.

It is nice to notice that the fashion houses –which are usually like big ships that turn very slowly–have adopted this fast-moving marketing strategy from these masters of self-branding and marketing. This is of course as opposed to seeing these younger people as threats. Or maybe, these new generation stars made big companies step down from their ivory towers.

Also, I have been getting inspiration from the subcultures of England which influence my personal way of dressing. I have been very interested in the Manchester street style–it is a very brutal and rough combination of sex, luxury, ugly beauty and sports.

A complete mess, in other words.

Unfortunately, the busy London lifestyle does not give me a lot time to wear street looks, so I have been mainly dressed in full suits.

 

TH: Heritage is commonly regarded as something important in the fashion world. There is sometimes concern in the industry that Finnish fashion might be at a disadvantage due to a short national history, vis-a-vis other European countries such as France, Italy, UK and Sweden.  How do you feel about this?

Eero Böök: I think our short history in fashion can be an advantage instead of a disadvantage.

The fashion world is always hungry and in fact our history in this field is not that old. We can easily create something new instead of following the strong image /vision we have once created — of irregular design.

I just read one of my favourite magazines “DAZED” that ranked Aalto University School of Arts as the top 3 in fashion. The success in Hyères fashion festival has sparked interest towards Finland as well.

The publicity that Finland has lately received proves my point that we are able to create something new. Like for example, the case of Sasu Kauppi and Kanye West.

Finnish high fashion sounds very exotic and it will be something unseen–exactly what the fashion world loves.

Maybe we just need to find a way to get these talents to work in Finland before they are headhunted by big companies outside of the country.

 

TH: Finland is commonly perceived as a “class-less” society. So if I walk along the streets of Helsinki with an Hermès bag, would I be seen as a snob?

Eero Böök: Well, I am not sure if Finland is a “class-less” society…or do we just have smaller gaps in between the classes?

Hermès bag is a funny example. Luxury accessories or ready-to-wear do not really hold big markets in Finland, so I am sure that many people would not even recognise that bag. This is because Hermès is quite discreet when it comes to the logos and people are not that familiar with the design.

In general, I think people would find you a snob if they know the price tag of the bag. People are not very used to luxury designs so they might find them unnecessary- if you have not tasted it, how could you miss it?

 

TH: Can you tell us the top 3 things/ traits you regard as “Finnish”, and why?

Eero Böök: I think there is one trait above others that I find very “Finnish” and that is our communication.

The way our humour and sarcasm comes across in our language is impossible to translate– for example in English– at least for me.

eero4.jpg

People easily get the feeling that I am distant and maybe a bit cold. Perhaps we are just not used to small talk and cute sentences.

I have to admit that I do feel very special when I visit a supermarket in London and the person at the checkout calls me a “sweetheart”. It is very nice, but maybe because I am a bit narcissistic and attention is always welcome. You see, perhaps evidenced by this question on Finnish traits, sometimes I tend to turn the topic into myself.

I guess our spoken communication is exactly the same–as minimalistic as our Finnish style.

The second thing I would consider “Finnish” is perhaps our continuous mirroring to other people. We are all the time comparing ourselves to others and the others to ourselves. It is natural that in our small cities we pay attention to individual people on the street – as we know the streets are not too crowded. *laughs*

I think that is something we need to change. It brings a big pressure when you try to build your own style and you can’t find your own “subculture” to fit in. This is because the subcultures in Finland are very homogenous, especially from my personal point of view. You need to add slightly something “different” to your look, but you need to keep the rest in the same line with the others, if you want to be taken seriously and be accepted.

If you fail in this, “you can’t sit with us” is the result.

The third trait I find is the fear of failure. The uncertainty is always around–are we talking about work, clothing, the way we look, etc?

I think that in other words could be the famous “Finnish shyness” that we are always talking about. Perhaps “shyness” is simply a nicer word for the self-esteem problem we have in each other’s company.

 

TH: What is the number one misconception foreigners tend to have about Finns/Finland that you feel that is far from the truth?

Eero Böök: People are very interested in the Nordic countries.

I have noticed that people have a strong image of Finland, which is very funny. To me, it sounds like a “Children’s fairytale paradise” where everything is perfect and everybody is financially stable or super rich.

Like every Finn, I am really proud of my roots, which I have just realised. So I keep that image with pride and take the full advantage of it.

I think I have a lot of credibility amongst my colleagues -– simply because we have built this very sophisticated brand to our country and school system.

 

TH: What are your personal dreams and vision for the future?

Eero Böök: My vision for my future is clear.

I want to build a strong, free and professional career in the fashion marketing and branding field. My dream is to work for myself and not be locked in office from 8 to 16, five days a week. I am a hardworking person and I enjoy work in general, but I believe that a work week filled with routines would limit my creativity.

By “freedom”, I mean that if I want to go and have a weekend getaway in Paris – I am able to do it, because my laptop would be my “office”.

More flexibility. That is the life goal for me.

 

TH: What is the one 100-year-old birthday wish you would make for Finland, since 2017 is Finland’s 100 years of independence?

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Eero Böök: For a 100-year-old Finland I would like to wish Finland all the best! I also wish for an open-minded atmosphere in the midst of all the turmoil.

I started this interview talking about my home city Naantali. In a similar vein, I now want to “Finnish” this story.

The last time I visited Naantali, I actually saw a young girl with Minna Parikka´s bunny sneakers instead of the wellies. If Naantali´s street style has developed this much in the last ten years, what more can we achieve now that we are 100 years old?


The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”? endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Office. Photos courtesy of Eero Böök and Alex Aalto. Feel free to follow Eero Böök on his instagram @eerob.

Yeah, that’s the only social media account Eero gave… 😉

[The Hieno! Suomi 100 series] Interview with Finnish Gay Couple Otto and Alex!

Finnish men, Finnish People, Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office
finnish gay couple

Today, as part of The Hieno! “What is Finnish-ness” series celebrating Suomi 100 in 2017, we feature our favorite Finnish gay couple Otto and Alex!~

Personally, I´d always found both Otto and Alex to be inspiring, talented and free-spirited. Otto runs his own travel blog Ottoizakaya and Alex’s Instagram is often adorned with colorful and happy photographs of their various inspirations and travels.

Enjoy the interview! ♡


TH: Hi Otto and Alex! Can you tell us more about yourselves?

Otto: Hey Wan Wei, thank you for taking us on board. I feel honored!

alex_otto-3

I’m a Finland-raised and London-based bohemian and edgy Travel blogger, ESTP-personality, free soul, digital storyteller and Digital Media & Communications student at University of Westminster.

I have been writing my dear travel blog since 2014. Currently I’m actually developing a full makeover for my blog brand. My new blog will be hopefully launched early next year.

Originally I was born in Turku in the mid-90s but since then I have already lived in Helsinki, Sydney and currently in London. I have also traveled to nearly 50 different countries and my “visited country”-score is growing rapidly.

That’s shortly who I am at the moment. Next week my answer might be very different.

Alex: I’m 24 years old young man originally from Naantali, Finland. I work currently as Studio manager in one of the Europe’s leading photography studios.

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I’m creative, hardworking and ambitious, and that’s how I have worked my way up in demanding fashion / photography industry.

Oh yeah, work is big part of my life. I appreciate people who has goals. Like I do.

My religion is freedom, and I try my everything to live as free as possible. I am a non-judgmental listener, but I like to be on spotlight myself as well. I’m an elitist and hedonist, but also a fair personality. I surprise even people who has known me for years, there’s always something new going on with me! I enjoy the finest things in life, and I try to make my life as comfortable as possible.

I’m the mommy of everyone around me, but I am a real mommy’s boy myself too!

TH: What sparked the creation of the awesome Otto Izakaya, and how do you get ideas on what to write about next, Otto? And how about where and what to shoot next, Alex?

Otto: Everything started just before we moved out from Australia and we started our journey in Asia. Rapidly the blog started to get public attention and it also gained a good number of followers.

Aside to the travel blogging I am keen to develop my professional knowledge of digital industry because that is the industry where I want to work in the future. Rapidly developing, fast-paced digital industry as well as my big passion for traveling inspires me a lot. I simply love to create my physical travel experiences to a digital format.  

Normally I don’t really have to discover the ideas separately too much because there is so much happening all the time in my life. The idea where I am going to write about next usually comes really naturally. Our life is so hectic and my ADD doesn’t make it any easier. Especially when we travel. *laughs*.  

After two years of blogging I have finally found my own niche – Edgy and affordable luxury travel with a quirky LGTB twist. After finding my personal niche it is maybe my biggest motivator at the moment.

Alex: I am surrounded by photographers and big shoots every day at work, so when I’m abroad somewhere without flashing studio lights – that really sparks my inspiration.

My style as a photographer is quite “cheezy” if I can say so. I like beautiful things so I want to rather show the aesthetic sides of the world than the ugly side. I love colors in my images, so whenever I am in a place with rich colours I am really on fire.

Also I want my photos to be alive so my favorite spots to shoot are places which are crowded. Fish markets of Tokyo, busy streets of Marrakech or Kathmandu’s temple areas are good examples of the places I prefer to shoot in.

But I have to add to this that sometimes an absolute grey-ness can be extremely beautiful. Eastern Europe and Russia has this feeling that you have stepped into a world without colours and that can be really inspiring as well.


TH: As Finns living in London currently, what is the one thing that you appreciate most about Finland? 

Otto: There are many of them. In London I have actually noticed how much I appreciate Finland.

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First thing that comes to my mind may sound odd, but it’s very logical: Status. It feels like having a VIP card in the wallet to have a Finnish passport.

And this is not even propaganda. Finns are mostly welcome wherever we go and people appreciate our country a lot. I travel a lot and Finns have great reputation worldwide. We are a small country but oh boy we have “Sisua” as we Finns say. Our social system is also magnificent and it really provides the security and calmness to our lives.

After studying in a very international environment it’s eye-opening to notice that most of the other countries don’t have the similar benefits as we have, for instance “opintotuki” (Student support money) while you study, even abroad. I’m also very proud of Finnish humour and our ice-cold, even a bit rough mentality.

In my point of view, Finns are maybe the funniest people on earth. Finns are very straightforward and honest people. I think this has a lot to do with our culture and education.

Overall I appreciate the most to be a Finn.

Alex: Agree. Honesty. Finnish people are the most honest people probably in the world. If Finn says something, he / she really means it. In UK ( and Australia ) it is very common that you get invited somewhere or your workmate says “Hey, let’s go for a beer ” and that is never going to happen.

In Finland if you invite or get invited somewhere – it is really meaningful and a symbol of friendship. This is something that I really appreciate. And c’mon, there is no other country where you can leave your wallet on the bar table, go to the bathroom and it be 99% sure that it will still be there when you return.

Like Finns say : Kyllä paska lumen alta löytyy – “The shit will be found under the snow.” Which basically means that don’t leave any shit behind you, because the spring will come, the snow will melt, and your shit will start to smell.

This tells a lot about our attitude against dishonesty 😀


TH: *laughs* Or maybe shit will serve as fertilizers for beautiful flowers to bloom in spring haha!

As Finns living in London currently, what is the one thing that you think can be improved in Finland?

Otto: The culture is sometimes jealous and unambitious and that is something what I don’t really agree with at all. It’s easy to live a normal middle-class life in Finland but if you want to make big money and live a luxurious lifestyle – it might be difficult.

People can’t stand it and they get easily bitter and bitchy. And at the same time it is hard to see any issues in the mirror.

That’s the reason why we moved out as well. Finnish bureaucracy, endless rules and laws are frustrating also.

I just want to state: “Chill a bit and live a little.”

Alex: Communication between people. Finns still communicate like cavemen – only things that are necessary is said and nothing nice for sure.

Sometimes a little “How are you my love” from the supermarket cashier wouldn’t hurt but I guess that would sound bizarre in Finnish language.

Is this Finnish-ness?

 

TH: As a blog and on social media, Ottoizakaya is interesting to follow because of the interesting experiences Otto shares! Otto, Can you tell us one interesting experience you have had because of the blog? 

Otto: Definitely the most memorable meeting with reader happened in small suburb at Turku.

I was searching my friends house when suddenly one happy lady randomly yelled me from the window, “you have the blog right?” I went so confused and yelled back “ummm yes” and she yelled back, “Keep going! Good work, I love your stories.”

Oh, It was so fun experience.

Extra attention is always welcomed.

TH: Are you planning to write in English soon, Otto? Currently I have to translate with google. A lot of your non-Finnish fans have to translate with google too.  

Otto: OMG, how amazing you guys are. I appreciate it so much.

But I have very good excuse haha–I need to prioritize my time due to my studies, work and social life.

In the future I will definitely translate my content also in English but I need to wait until the time is right. At the moment I simply do not have enough time to produce bilingual blog even I really want to.

But this situation is only now. Future will be very different I guarantee.

TH: I’m also particularly impressed by the strong visuals on Ottoizakaya’s Instagram and blog. Do you think there is a link between “Finnish-ness” and “strong design aesthetics”? 

Otto and Alex: Thank you so much.

Our private social media channels are all individually self made. Blog visuals are 75% by Otto and 25% by Alex.

We certainly do believe that Finnish people are visual people – because we live in such a rural place and we spend most of our lives in our cosy homes. We make our homes beautiful, because we have no other place to go.

It’s in our blood to make our environment aesthetic, and it must reflect in digital arts as well. Also we own excellent eye for detail which makes us successful in creating something beautiful.

We know that less is more, and that’s our superpower.

TH: Why are you guys so good looking? Is it a Finnish boy thing?

alex_otto_barcelona

Otto and Alex: I guess it depends which part of the world are you looking at us.

Finnish girls might find Italians or Brazilians to be the hottest in the world. Or Finnish guys might think Singaporeans girls are the most attractive.

But personally we like to take care of ourselves and fresh outcome is something which we use for self branding together and separately. And it brings us self confidence as well, We are always ready for the challenges when we have our hair done, ironed our shirts and wearing some Versace after shave – then we know that we have done my best effort to make an positive impact to people around us.

If we are two or three guys standing side by side, and the one has not seen a mirror for 5 years – who would you trust?

TH: Foreigners tend to have an impression that the LGBT rights are really strong and respected in the Nordic region. Yet, Finland seems to be a little slower than its Nordic neighbors in this regard.

Against this context, did you ever feel discriminated because you are gay in Finland?

Otto: Personally I have never faced any discrimination. If you are living in Helsinki or in the few biggest cities, I find it very easy to be gay.

Helsinki is a potential new gay capital in my point of view and people are overall very liberal. The Aleksi Valavuori case also showed that it’s not OK to harass gay people anymore in Finland. A little bit out of the topic that case was great example how times has changed.

Still, in the countryside it can be extreme. People might be very narrow minded in Finland and some people might be also very aggressive. I would be careful with my self-representation in certain places in Finland and that’s very wrong. When it comes to this amazing thing as being gay.

I still think strongly that this same story occur almost in every country in the world. Big cities develop first.

Alex: Same as Otto. Being a gay in Finland is absolutely fine, if you are living in a city of a size of Turku or bigger.

If you grow up in a small village like I did – you will have painful years ahead. Finnish villages and little towns were racist against everything different when I grew up. I really really hope that the vibes would have been changed to becoming more open minded, but I am afraid not yet.

How did I cope with it? Moving out as soon as possible, and as far as possible.


TH: What is the happiest moment of your life in Finland?

Otto: The year before we moved to Sydney. I was living my last teen-something years. I was also step by step coming out from the closet. That was a pretty hard time at the same time simply because in my first 18.5 years I somehow denied that I’m gay. The last few years before coming out of the closet had been a very oppressive time. After coming out, I left my whole old life behind me and a started new one from a fresh slate. It was a massive relief and I feel my life really started in that time. Everyone supported me so well.

The year after outcome was like one big fiesta. Lots of party, bubbles and ultimately wild and edgy lifestyle. It was simply great to feel the freedom fully. Thank gosh those times are over. Life is getting so much better more age you gain. *laughs*.

My childhood was great as well. Even it was hard to appreciate it when I was kid. We used to travel a lot in Finland & Europe and I think my traveller side of myself started on those early days.

I have also great memories regarding Finnish nature and Summer. There is some magic in it. Summer holidays with endless nights at the summer cottages with enjoying traditional Finnish BBQ cuisine, swimming on the lake and several road trips with my family in Pohjanmaa, KarjaIa, Lapland and Europe. I have lots of cousins and relatives and we had lots of parties and family activities. Living in Finland within my circles has been definitely the most encouraging place to grow up in this exciting world.

Alex: My best times in Finland was when I lived in Turku, I was 20 years old and partied a lot – had a lots of friends and a “cool” job in the studio.

That was exactly how 20 years old guy should be living – enjoying life and doing stupid things. The city felt like the centre of the world, and I felt like the owner of it.

The confidence of the 20 years old young man was palpable. I remember one Saturday morning in my flat at Yliopistonkatu and I laid on the floor of my living room, smoking cigarettes, drinking red wine and listening to Nicki Minaj, and I said to my friend: “Do you realise how lucky we are?”

That moment is something I never forget.

I have had a lot of happiness in my life, and I am thankful for that every day. I remember my family’s summer parties with dancing all night long in the garden, long tables full of food from the archipelago and lots of happiness around me. I remember how it feels like to jump naked in the calm lake water after sauna at 4am and the sun is rising. No sounds, just the water, me and that moment.

An absolute peace around me.

There has been so many happy moments between Finland and I, and that defines me who I am as a person now.

TH: What do you think are three of the popular misconceptions of Finland? Can you share these misconceptions with us?

Alex: Always -20. This is something that need to explain a lot. People don’t really get it that we really do have summers in Finland and it can be very hot sometimes!  And when you start explaining about how the sun doesn’t go down in Summer, but there is no sunlight in winter – you get really funny looks.

  • Extremely expensive alcohol. We don’t really agree with this. Yes, it is expensive but if you go to a pub in Finland to have a pint of beer, it is the same price than many in Western Europe. You can get a nice bottle of red for 12€ from Alko or buy a bottle of sparkling wine in a nightclub for 15€ in Helsinki city centre. I think that’s quite reasonable!
  • 3 years lasting driving school?? I have heard a lot of comments that “Finns are the best drivers in the world, because the driving school lasts like 3 years right? “

I need to tell people that–yes, we are really good drivers – but there are two reasons for it. Because our weather conditions are so extreme, we really need to know how to control the car even in total darkness and in slippery highways.

But the second reason is that we might be good drivers because we don’t have any traffic in Finland. It is easy to be a good driver in a empty road! When I started to drive in London, I was absolutely terrified, but got used to it quite soon. But it would be stupid-ness to use my own car when the public transport is the best in the world so I rather catch a tube than be jammed in the traffic for 3 hours!

But no, our driving school doesn’t last for 3 years 😀

Otto: I have faced the same: But something to add:

  • Sometimes people might think that Finland is just some poor pedestrian country. Okay, we are small and not maybe the biggest “celebrity-country” on earth but for some people it’s hard to see that we really are a developed first world country with an excellent living score. People also might see us as a much bigger country than one with a population of only 5 million.

Sometimes people just don’t get that we are real modern civilization. I understand it though, in London we have 10 million people. It’s a big difference. Sometimes people also think that Finland is part of Russia.

But If you look our location on the map – we are definitely more in the east than west. Finns have a very Russian mentality rather than Scandinavian though. It’s easy to notice when living abroad. 😀

TH: What are the three things or characteristics that are undoubtedly “Finnish” to you?

Otto and Alex: After 4 years of being together our ideology and views are probably stuck together so it is definitely appropriate to answer this question together.

  • The food we eat. We have noticed after living in abroad how healthy and pure food we Finnish people are use to put in our plates. When we moved to UK we were absolutely horrified about the food people ate here. Every morning we saw some workmates doing nutella sandwiches ( with white bread! ) and flush it down with coke and pack of crisps! I felt like it’s our responsibility to tell them how unhealthy it is – but after living here for a year we have gave up. “Maassa maan tavalla” as Finns would say.
  • News. Reading the news. Watching the news. Checking Iltalehti.fi, Hs.fi, ampparit etc. We are extremely interested what is happening in our country and we are aware of what’s going on around the world.

We are actually much more civilised than we even realise. We live in a country which is far away from the rest of the Europe so we feel that is important to be on track. Here in UK many rare people are interested about the phenomenon of the world or politics at all.

  • Superficiality – This might surprise you, but we have come to a conclusion that Finns are extremely superficial. Especially in bigger cities. There is a big pressure to look trendy and expensive, because everyone knows each other. We definitely have a show-off culture where we need to make our workmates, or neighbors jealous by swanking about our holidays or a new car we bought.

At the same time Finns are jealous and they want to make other people jealous as well. When we lived in Helsinki we always checked ourselves from the mirror before going even to the nearest Siwa, because you never know who you gonna walk into! This is one of the things we hated in Finland and we are more than happy that we don’t need to suffer from it anymore.

People of UK has all the same attitude against dressing : They don’t give a f*ck! British people are famous of their sassy look and it really makes life easier and funnier.

TH: What are your personal dreams and visions for the future?

Otto: In three years I aim to be a full-time digital nomad and entrepreneur in digital industry. My vision is to live my life worldwide. I aim to travel and build my income comprehensively from my laptop without going office from 9-5. That’s just not my thing.

I’m also very keen to work in conflict areas and build digital future in the areas where it is not an forgone conclusion. Next few years I’ll focus on my bachelor studies in London. I have planned to make my exchange year in Hong Kong or Shanghai and Master degree in New York perhaps?

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Oh, I have so many dreams and visions about my future. I actually want to continue this lifestyle that I am living at the moment but just in much bigger picture: Live, laugh, travel and make things happen. At the moment I’m pretty sure that my life in the future will continue on abroad.

I don’t find it realistic to move back to Finland anymore – unless I get some very good reason for it. However, the most important aspects in my personal future are freedom and success.

Alex: There’s a lot! I have a personal 3 years plan to stay in London – make a career here as far as I can. Probably I want to stay on the same industry but move forward to more technical side of it. I’m interested in science and virtual reality and I would like to work for a company which would combine all these things: Photography, science and fashion.

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I am willing also to start studying mandarin, and after 3 years, move to Hong Kong – live there for a while and then settle down in New York. I am also willing to buy an holiday apartment in Ho Chi Minh City where I could maybe spend the winters doing some documentary projects.

That’s my future plan so far!

TH: The year 2017 is the year when gay marriage would officially be legalized in Finland. As a Finnish gay couple, how do you feel about this? 

Otto and Alex: Marriage as a constitution is old-fashioned and coming from religious roots originally. As non-religious persons we don’t want to be involved with it and we don’t really understand why to be considered as a “real committed couple” you would have to be married?

We get the legal side of marriage, that it makes life just easier if you are married – especially if you have kids. But personally we don’t think we wanna get married.

Unless we can afford Beyonce to come to perform our wedding!  *laughs*.

TH: Finland will also be celebrating its 100 years of independence next year. What is the one wish you have for Finland?

Otto: Dream big & live big. I hope we can cut some stupid bureaucracy and laws. Life in Finland could be so much funnier so let’s focus on that.

There is never too much positivity and dynamism.

Alex:  Same. Build more skyscrapers. Skyscrapers make people dream bigger, because they have something to look up to.

TH: On a parting note, do you have anything else to add?

Otto: I really appreciate and love Finland and to be a Finn. There is always love and hate relationship with it. We have an option to question our country and I’m not afraid to do it.

I hope that all Finns who read this article will pay attention for everyone’s right for personal freedom and fun-dom. Let’s Drink, laugh, travel & spend. Let’s be crazy, quirky, spontaneous and wild. There is too little fun & sun in Finland so we need to bring it out by self.

Life is not that serious so please let’s focus on the genuinely significant things and let’s stop together to pay attention for topic where is absolutely no point.

For instance, some ridiculous laws and miraculous limits. Kippis!

Alex: I have to agree with Otto that even though I don’t want to live in Finland, I really do appreciate to be Finn. It will always define me and I feel privileged to be born and raised there.

Looking from abroad, Finland feels like going forward now for a long time and I wish nothing but wealth and success for Finland. The high tech, gaming, and building industry can be new Nokia for Finland but it will require that the Finns are ready for new inventions and to relax their bureaucracy and support entrepreneurs.

Use services and eat in restaurants. Enjoy your after works and go for holidays. Life is actually quite easy when you make it easy.


It was truly so much fun (and eye candy-ish) having this adorable Finnish gay couple Otto and Alex with us. I found myself LOL-ing a lot in their candid interview. We hope you have enjoyed this interview as much as we did!

The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”? endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Office. Feel free to follow Otto on his website, instagram @ottoizakaya or like the ottoizakaya FB page. You can follow Alex on his instagram at @alexaaltophotos. Photographs courtesy of Otto and Alex.🙂