The Finnish look
TEXT: SUNNIVA DAVIES-ROMMETVEIT | PHOTO © SUNNIVA DAVIES-ROMMETVEIT
Tolola farm is passionate about animal wellbeing and sustainability, making unique, all-natural clothes and interior design products from its rare livestock breed.
Nestled in eastern Finland, the 30-hectare spread is home to a very rare breed of Finnish sheep called the Kainuu Gray. With only 2,000 ewes left in Finland, farmer and product designer Outi Honkapuro explains that saving the sheep and becoming more sustainable was a big motivator for the farm. “We have been farmers for 15 years, and raised beef cattle for a long time. Then we decided to specialise in raising the Kainuu sheep, because they are a very unusual Finnish breed with beautiful wool, and we wanted a part in securing their future.”
The resulting Harmas fur products and yarn exude originality while protecting against the harsh Finnish winters. Selling everything from fur coats and woolly hats to yoga mats and cosy rugs, Honkapuro explains that the impressive variety of products is also all completely natural. “The sheep have wonderfully diverse colours − a mixture of whites, greys and black, so we take these different shades and combine them to make stylish, eye-catching products, without using any harsh chemicals.”
Tolola farm takes its sustainability philosophy as far as possible, working with local partners to minimise its environmental impact. The meat is butchered locally, while the Harmas fur products are made by local furrier and business partner Anu Muttilainen. “Our ethos is to be environmentally-conscious; we know each sheep individually, and we make sure to use the whole animal when the time comes,” Honkapuro explains.
To maintain the quality of the fur and yarn products, Tolola farm prides itself on keeping the flock size relatively small, with 50 ewes giving around 120 lambs each year. “Our main aim is to raise the sheep well, so that they have a nice life and, as a result, produce really great-quality fleeces and yarn,” Honkapuro explains, adding: “The result is beautiful products made from a completely unique and very rare breed of Finnish sheep.”