This post is created to celebrate the three-year anniversary of Essi and Ama. Yes, you read right; the founders of Népra have known each other for just three years. This same week, Népra is going to be two and a half years old. Now, you might be thinking this sounds crazy. And, yes, we do agree. The first two years of building Népra, most of the time remotely has not only been creating the brand but also creating the friendship and partnership between us. Let us tell you about how these women, as two strangers, started working on a business together.
It all started with an e-mail that Ama sent to her old teacher at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. Ama wanted to find a person who knew how to make patterns for perfect-fitting activewear. The e-mail was forwarded to the Textile and Clothing Faculty, and the moment Essi saw the message, she had only one thought in mind: “I need to act as fast as possible to be the first one”. Later, you might notice that this exact mindset and enthusiasm have been needed to keep Népra alive through the first years.
They first met on the 8th of May 2015. A couple of weeks earlier, Ama had been back to Finland from Germany, and Essi was writing her Bachelor Thesis with the plan to graduate in June. Much was discussed about the idea of Népra but also about certain abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and all the while the brains of both were simply trying to figure out if this really could lead to something bigger. It sounded so good and a bit surreal at the same time. They were both so excited but decided to give it a couple of days before going forward.
Ama had started the meetings at LADEC, the start-up institute in Lahti, and when she mentioned she had met one potential business partner, nobody believed it could have happened so quickly. But, it did. It didn’t take long for Essi to send Ama a message saying she was in for the ride.
The ladies started right away, working together at LADEC. Their first thought was to work through the summer and then look further. They made a written agreement, in which both agreed on responsibilities and roles within the business; this was an important part to build up a common vision for what they were planning to do, but also to build up trust.
The first month, they worked together almost every day. It was all about learning to know each other and building the fundamentals of Népra from where both could surely stand proudly. They both agreed this was a vital part to make Népra succeed. They also made a detailed action plan for what was needed before founding the company, and final agreement about the roles; who was doing what and when.
The next months Ama and Essi worked more remotely. At some point, Ama went back to Germany for a while. They worked together via Skype, WhatsApp and a project management tool called Asana. Ama was planning the business in general and actually making various versions of the business plan, while Essi was working on the first collection and searching for fabrics and manufacturers. Their goal was to found the company by the end of the year, get the small credit from Finnvera (a public financing institute that supports businesses) and to have Népra’s first collection ready to go.
In August 2015, Essi came up with the idea of the logo (read the story here). It felt so right immediately, that preparations for the trademark applications began right away. In October, things started to roll along quickly and they started to prepare for the actual founding of the company. A visit to their manufacturer, Kamilla, for the first time was a major milestone. The excitement grew as the girls were so impressed by the quality of Kamilla’s work.
The final step before founding the company was to meet with Finnvera and to convince them to lend them the small credit so that they could start the business. Ama and Essi were both convinced this was the most nerve-racking part of the whole journey. The credit was approved and, on the 11th of November 2015, Népra was founded.
Both girls believe they had so much luck from the very beginning. Everything went so smoothly, finding each other, making the business plan, creating the first collection, finding Kamilla and the fabrics, the application process, everything. And, they are extremely grateful! The struggles actually started only after having founded the company, but let’s come back to that story another day.
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about our first half year! Are you interested to discover more about our journey in the future? Let us know!
Ama & Essi
Edited by Alex Burchell
Originally published in May 2018.