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MY BFF IS A BEEKEEPER

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MY BFF IS A BEEKEEPER

elisa nordman

MY BFF IS A BEEKEEPER

Meet Elisa Nordman, a long time friend of mine who is an avid hobby beekeeper from Helsinki with a passion for sustainability, green thinking and a deep appreciation for nature and our planet. She keeps her two hives at a farm outside of the city and produces artisan honey under the brand name Hunter House Honey. I sat down with Elisa and picked her brain about her super hipster, yet actually amazingly impressive side hustle that she’s been doing for a while as I felt the urge to to introduce this insanely cool save the bees- gal with my fellow internet scrolling audience. Here goes.

Q: Who are you?

A: I am Elisa. I currently work as a graphic designer and in my free time I love to get outdoors and spend time in nature, read a lot, do sports and then of course beekeeping.

Q: What made you take up beekeeping and become a bee-person?

A: In all honesty, it was actually half a coincidence as I stumbled across an ad in beekeeping at a Christmas fair in Helsinki (Tuomaan markkinat). It immediately caught my attention and I took a photo of the ad and then the next day I thought to myself, what the heck, why not. I signed up for the course online, without truly knowing if I would follow through or not. Fast forward 5 months and I found myself in a beekeepers farm shopping for the gear. Once I had all the necessary items, I knew I would have to buy the bees as well. Even though there initially was some slight hesitation, I’ve always been aware of the role the bees play in our eco system and how they are struggling and declining in numbers due to the pollution, harsh pesticides and changing weather patterns. Since a very young age I’ve always loved the flavour of honey, so that worked as one motive as well.

Q: How did you get your hives, did you buy them?

Learn the difference: 1. Honey bee 2. Bumble bee 3. Wasp 4. European Hornet

Learn the difference: 1. Honey bee 2. Bumble bee 3. Wasp 4. European Hornet

A: Yes, I bought my hives from a beekeeping shop and the bee colonies I bought straight from a beekeeper I was referenced to through the beekeeping course. The beekeeping community is a quite small and there are forums online where you can exchange knowledge and buy equipment from people within the industry. So basically all the bee colonies are bought from another beekeeper, you can not buy them from a shop, or at least not that I know of.

Q: How do you get started in beekeeping?

A: Well, in my opinion the only way to start is to participate in a course and learn the basics. The other option might be to have a mentor who walks you through the step by step process of starting your own colony. I still highly recommend participating in a course as it’s quiet complicated and you’ll get into the community easier and learn to know other people within the community.

Q: Most people do not react well to the sight of swarming bees, were you afraid of the bees when you first started out as a beekeeper?

A: No, I wasn’t afraid of bees. Bees are actually really calm and they don’t mind us people if we let them be(e) in peace. I’ve noticed that people can not distinguish the difference between bees and wasps and most people easily mistake wasps for bees or vice versa. To clarify and in case you were unsure, bees and wasps serve different purposes in nature. Bees pollinate our food, our plants and produce honey, whereas wasps eat pests from flowers and plants, but their pollination value is lesser than their hairy cousins. I think it’s only relevant to be afraid if you know that you’re very allergic to the stings.

Q: Do beekeepers get stung by bees?

A: Yes of course, however not very often. I’ve only been stung while beekeeping less than 10 times through my gloves and suite. The stinger has not been able to penetrate my skin properly as I am always wearing my protective suite.

Q: As a beekeeper, do you become more sensitive or more in tuned to nature?

A: For sure. I’ve always been a nature lover, but now after beekeeping you have to pay more attention to the weather, to the seasons and to the flora around you as it all affects the bees and their behaviour. This is actually the part that I’ve enjoyed the most and it’s been very fulfilling to become more aware of my surroundings.

Q: What's the most fulfilling part of a beekeeper's job?

A: I’d have to say that the most fulfilling part of this job is to actually get to know your bees and to learn how to work with them as honey bees are not wild bees, even though they are free to fly, come and go as they wish. Honey bees need our help and I try my best to read their signals and their behaviour to my best ability and make the right decisions in being their caretaker. As an example, I need to prevent mites from invading the hives and when the season has ended it’s my job to feed the bees and prepare the hive for the winter.

Q: How long does a bee live?

A: On average a worker bee lives 40-50 days. A queen bee usually has a lifespan of 4-8 years.

Q: How much time does it take to take care of your hives?

A: Holy moly, it takes quite a lot of time. The general rule is to visit your hive every nine days, but usually I go there once a week. You never know what to expect, so it’s hard to know in advance wether you’ll end up spending an hour or five tending to your hive with each visit. In July I take a little more free time to myself as this time is usually the time the bees are collecting honey and you can actually let them be. That being said, this is not set in stone as it also depends on the weather. Many professional beekeepers are so good at reading the signs of nature that they can visit their hives according to weather (meaning less times), but I am not there yet personally.

Q: What has been the most surprising aspect about beekeeping?

A: The complexity of a bee colony. The system is totally astonishing and I am continuously learning more by each visit. For example, did you know that the queen is not the ruler in the hive, but the worker bees are. The worker bees make all the decisions collectively so if they see that the queen is not laying enough eggs, they will start to make a new queen bee by starting to feed an egg with royal gel.

Q: What do you have to say to anyone who is interested in starting beekeeping?

A: Find a course in beekeeping and you will get a good start. After my first course I was still completely and utterly lost because at that time I didn’t have my own hive yet as all the information was only theoretical. Slowly and after my first summer in beekeeping I took another advanced course in and finally things started making more sense to me. Just like with any new skill or hobby, learning takes time, so be patient! In Finland there are great courses in Työväenopisto, so make sure to check in with them.

Q: How much honey do you get per season and is it difficult to collect the honey?

A: Last summer I got around 30 kg of honey from only one hive. This season I am not sure what to expect yet, since one of the hives is very weak after the winter and the other is strong, but there has been some issues with the queen. Honey collecting is hard work. Firstly, the hive boxes are extremely heavy and it’s quite challenging to pick them up from the hive tower and your body positions while doing the labor can end up being super uncomfortable. In addition to the hard physical work, the bees usually get pretty upset with me fiddling with their home (understandable) , which adds an extra challenge to the whole process. That being said, last summer was my very first time collecting the honey, so I am hoping for it to run a little smoother this year. Fingers crossed. The bees do not hibernate during the winter, instead they curl up keeping warm and eat sugar water that we feed them in the autumn.

Q: Where can we find out more information about beekeeping and your bee endeavours?

A: I have an instagram account @beetvsuomi , where I share videos and posts about my beekeeping. I sell the honey after the summer and I have my small artisan label called Hunter House Honey.

Q: Any further plans for Hunter House Honey?

beekeeping

A: Not currently, my aim is to keep beekeeping and learning more as I go. I wish to spread awareness about bees and their importance to us humans.

Q: Tell us something weird about yourself?

A: I am extremely organised and well prepared when it comes to packing and my friends always make fun of me when we go on trips together, but I always have something they end up needing. I have issues with jello-like food textures and can not eat anything wobbly, slimy nor spongy, such as eggs, tofu or creme brûlée. Wherever I go I always make sure to check out the nearest exit route and I am passionate about whales. I have a degree in prosthetics & orthotics (prostatic legs.) I’ll just leave it at the list could go on for a while…

Q: Favorite quote?

A: I am bad with quotes but I guess you can’t go wrong with ”Always smile more than you cry, give more than you take and love more than you hate”.




Below an episode of BeeTv. Enjoy!

Thanks Elisa!

So long honey,

Evita

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Friends with businesses / badass women: Meet the Boss lady of Bär Bar

Friends with businesses / badass women: Meet the Boss lady of Bär Bar

Friends with businesses / badass women: Meet the Boss lady of Bär Bar

jasmiina_ojala.JPG

When I first started blogging back in the day, I used to have a category called “Friends with Businesses”. As the name kind of gives it away, I will trust your judgement on what the topic entails 🤓. Now, after having relocated back to my beloved motherland, I decided to resume this category (along with blogging) and today I will introduce you guys to no other, than the badass boss lady, founder of the berry snack selling, superwoman and former study friend of mine; Jasmiina Ojala. I will from here on also initiate a new category called Badass women and this post will definitely be filed under that. Why? Well, the media (and even blog posts) play a powerful part in how we see ourselves, what we think we can achieve, and what limitations we put on ourselves as well. The more women are properly portrayed, the more women will rise up in leadership and business.

Let me tell you a couple things about Jasmiina. First of all, she is extremely friendly and smart and has a cutting edge sense of sarcasm. Not only did she graduate from the Swedish School of Economics, but she also holds a Master’s degree in Law. Oh, and in addition to being the empress of her own company, BärBar, she also is Head of Marketing for St1 and what’s even more exciting, is that she just made her biggest merger agreement yet (side note: this is her joke, not mine) and got engaged 💍! Woop woop! AND, top off that, she now carries a growing berry bundle in her belly. So, to say that things are up for Jasmiina is not an understatement. Congrats on all four things!

With that much on one’s plate and with such success, you might expect someone to play superior or perhaps be pompous. Nah, not Jasmiina. She is humble, grounded and laid back. I decided to pick her brain a little bit and present this amazing human to my fellow internet scrolling audience. Before we head over to the Q&A, you might wonder what BärBar is. Simply put, it’s a health snack bar selling takeaway smoothies made out of Finnish berries. They currently have one location in the heart of Helsinki on Fredrikinkatu 30, so make sure to go check them out. There was recently actually an article in Helsingin Sanomat about the benefits of incorporating berries and lingonberries into your diet and this is Jasmiina’s mission as well. My Q&A is written in both English and Finnish, voila:

Q: Who are you? (a weird one I know, it’s just interesting to see what comes up first)

A: I am a 33 year old mama to be for a little baby girl and I live in Helsinki.

Mama to be, superwoman Jasmiina Ojala and me.

Mama to be, superwoman Jasmiina Ojala and me.

Q: What do you do for a living?

A: My day job is working with marketing for the energy company St1. I started my career as a business lawyer but decided to swop careers to marketing, which feels more like my thing.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: In addition to running my own company, I exercise a lot, go to the gym and run. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually ran 5 marathons and hopefully several more 🙂. I also love reading.

Q: What is BärBar?

A: Bär Bar is a snack bar that sells healthy and delicious snacks made out of Finnish superfoods. We make wonderful smoothie bowls (Bär Bowls), fresh porridge and smoothies made out of Finnish berries. We’ve recently added vegan oat and pulled outs sandwiches to our offerings (made out of Finnnish oats of course). Our mission is to bring Finnish superfoods into the daily lives of our customers in a fun and easy way.

Q: Where does the name BärBar come from?

A: Well, the name involved the word berry (in Swedish) and bar. In Swedish the word ‘bärbar’ means something to takeaway or carry with you. This encapsulated our idea, as we love Finnish berries and we want to provide them into the lives of everyone in an easy takeaway snack form.

Q: Is there enough time for the mom to be to work with two jobs?

A: Yes, or at least still yes. The company is co-led by me and my partner and we work on it on the side to our daytime jobs. We have a team of four lovely girls working in the shop, so we don’t spend too much time there ourselves. That being said, our aim is to grow our business and our dream would be to one day be able to employ ourselves full time.

Q: When did you decide to start your own business?

A: We made the decision together with my partner and we first started talking about it in May 2017. The first BärBar openend its doors in January 2018.

Q: What has surprised you the most becoming and being an entrepreneur?

A: It requires perseverance and that you don’t give up. It also requires being innovative and having a lot of courage way beyond what I had expected. It’s extremely challenging to find good employees and when you finally do, hold on to them as tightly as you can.

Q: Any tips to new entrepreneurs?

A: Nothing comes easy and there’s no quick fixes. If you want to become an entrepreneur, you definitely have to be more of a doer than a dreamer.

Q: Would you change anything in hindsight?

A: I would’ve been more picky with our first location (we moved from Itäkeskus to Fredrikinkatu).

Q: What have you learned?

A: SO MUCH! I’ve learned so much about brand development and marketing. I’ve also learned about customer behaviour, the logic of retail business, how to increase customer visits, the significance of location and how to grow your business and the importance of being efficient and dynamic. I’ve also learned how challenging it might be to find good employees and the value of them.

Q: Where do you see BärBar in 5 years?

A: We’ve definitely grown and have more locations than just one (including abroad) and our brand is well known and our customer experience is rock solid.

Q: What message is it that you want to convey through BärBar?

Enjoying a berry good smoothie.

Enjoying a berry good smoothie.

A: Finnish people need to cherish and appreciate more the wonderful, clean superfoods that we have here. We think it’s irrational to bring a bunch of superfoods such as goji berries, acai berries and exotic fruit, when our own forests are filled with the cleanest and most nutritious berries in the world! Globally speaking, our forests in Finland are extremely clean and the berries growing in them are off the charts! Also from a carbon footprint point of view, it’s insanity that we keep importing exotic berries and fruit pumped with a bunch of preservatives, when we instead could just benefit from our own local fresh ingredients.

Q: What’s your favorite berry?
A: I’d have to go with blueberry. I eat blueberries almost daily and I can honestly say, that I am nearly never sick and I feel healthy. This is something that has been more highlighted during my pregnancy. Many pregnancy symptoms such as vitamin deficiency and constipation are things that can be avoided by eating blueberries.

Q: What’s you’r favorite BärBar product?

A: One More Straw and the Tender Sea-Buckthorn smoothie. They are incredibly delish!

Q: Why should people eat more berries?

A: Because of their health! Berries are filled with good vitamins, fiber and dietary minerals. I guarantee that if you eat one cup of blueberries each day (all our products contain at least 2 cups of berries!) you will notice how your digestion will improve and how flues will stay away.

Q: Are there any more BärBar and Yoga events coming up? (STAY TUNED, GIVEAWAY NEXT MON)

A: YES! And perhaps even something for new mamas.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Positive feedback and the amount of loyal repeat customers that we have. People seem to like and appreciate our concept and our products and it makes me extremely content. I hope we can make people happy. It’s an important part of our concept.

Q: Favorite Instagram accounts?

A: @myberryforest - Not only is Tiina a lovely being, but she is amazingly talented in crafting tasty, vegan dishes made out of Finnish berries. Her pictures are also pretty. She’s designed many of our products and I hope we can keep working together in the future as well. Other than that, there’s not really any other favorites, I guess it’s nice to see what my friends are up to and admire beautiful nature photos.

Q: Life slogan?

A: This is a tough one. But if we have to dig a little deeper, I guess I’d had to pick one that entails the fact that dreams don’t work unless you do. The legendary Just do it from Nike is pretty good. And then perhaps one that encourages you to not to follow the mainstream, such as why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary.


Q: Share something weird about yourself?

A: I am afraid of water fountains and I like cold liver casserole (with raisins of course).

Thank you lovely Jasmiina!

Make sure to follow BärBar on instagram here. STAY TUNED, as we are hosting a GIVEAWAY next Monday for our upcoming YOGA & BärBar event later this spring in Pranama Kallio!

XX,
Eva


K: Kuka olet?

V: Helsingissä asuva 33-vuotias, tuleva pienen tyttövauvan äiti. 

K: Mitä teet työksesi?

V: Teen päivätyökseni markkinointia energiayhtö St1:ssä. Aloitin urani itse asiassa liikejuristina, mutta vaihdoin muutaman vuoden päästä alaa markkinointiin, mikä tuntui itselleni luontaisemmalta alalta.

K: Mitä teet vapaa-ajalla?

V: Oman yritystoimintamme lisäksi harrastan paljon liikuntaa, ulkona lenkkeilyä ja salia. Olenkin juossut tähän mennessä 5 maratonia ja toivottavasti vielä monta lisää :). Rakastan myös lukemista.

K: Mikä on BärBar?

V: Bär Bar on välipalabaari joka tekee terveellisiä ja herkullisia välipaloja suomalaisesta superfoodista. Teemme ihania Bär Bowleja (smoothiekulhoja), tuorepuuroja ja smoothieita suomalaisista marjoista. Nykyään meillä on myös vegaanisia nyhtökaura- ja kaurapalaleipiä - kotimaisesta kaurasta tottakai. Bär Barin missiona on tuoda suomalainen superfood helposti ja hauskasti ihmisten arkeen.


K: Mistä nimi BärBar tuli?

V: No nimi piti sisällään hauskasti niin sanan marja, baari kuin mukaan otettava/kannettava (bärbar on ruotsia ja tarkoittaa kannettavaa), mikä kiteytti ideamme, eli rakastamme suomalaisia marjoja ja haluamme tarjota niitä ihmisten elämään helposti mukaanotettavan välipalan muodossa. 


K: Riittääkö tulevalla mamalla aikaa kahdelle työlle?

V: Riittää ainakin vielä, yritys on minun ja avopuolisoni ja teemme sitä yhdessä molempien päivätöiden ohella. Itse baarissa työskentelee 4 aivan mahtavaa mimmiä, eli emme itse ole siellä päivisin töissä. Toki tavoitteenamme on kasvattaa liiketoimintaa koko ajan ja unelmissa on se että joku päivä pystymme työllistämään itsemmekin yrityksessä.


K: Koska teit päätöksen perustaa yrityksen?

V: Teimme sen yhdessä mieheni kanssa, rupesimme puhumaan yrityksestä toukokuussa 2017. Ensimmäinen Bär Bar avautui tammikuussa 2018.

K: Mikä on ollut yllättävintä yrittäjänä?

V: Se vaatii vielä enemmän pitkäjänteisyyttä periksiantamattomuutta, kekseliäisyyttä ja reippautta/pokkaa kuin olin ajatellut. Hyvien työntekijöiden löytäminen on todella haastavaa ja kun niitä löytyy niin kannattaa pitää heistä kiinni.

K: Mitä sanoisit aloitteleville yrittäjillle?

V: Mikään ei tule helpolla eikä lottovoittoja oikeastaan ole. Jos haluat yrittäjäksi niin pitää olla ehdottomasti enemmän tekijä kuin unelmoija.


K: Tekisitkö jotakin erilailla näin jälkikäteen?

V: Olisin ollut vielä tarkempi ensimmäisen pisteen lokaation kanssa (Fredan pisteeseen muutimme ensimmäisen jälkeen). 


K: Mitä olet oppinut?

V: TODELLA PALJON! Markkinoinnista ja brändin luomisesta olen oppinut älyttömästi. Samoin siitä miten kuluttajat käyttäytyy ja retail busineksen logiikasta, kuten asiakaskäyntien kasvattamisesta, lokaation merkityksestä, keskiostoksen kasvattamisesta

ja operaativisesta tehokkuudesta. Myös se miten tärkeää hyvät työntekijät on ja miten vaikeeta sellaisia on löytää.

K: Missä näet BärBarin 5 vuoden päästä?

V: Meillä on auki selkeästi enemmän pisteitä kuin yksi (myös ulkomailla) ja brändimme ja asiakaskokemuksemme on timanttinen ja tunnettu.

K: Mitä sanomaa haluat välittää/levittää BärBarin avulla?

V: Sitä että suomalaisten pitää arvostaa ja fiilistellä enemmän oman maan puhtaita superraaka-aineita. Meidän mielestä on älytöntä että raahaamme maailman toiselta puolelta tänne kaikenlaisia eksoottisia ns superfood tuotteita kuten gojimarjoja, acaimarjoja, eksoottisia hedemiä jne kun omat metsämme ovat täynnä maailman puhtaimpia ja ravintorikkaimpia marjoja! Suomen luonto on kansainvälisesti niin puhdasta, että siellä kasvavat marjat ovat aivan omaa luokkaansa. Samoin on CO2-päästöjen kannalta outoa, että rahtaamme lento- ja laivaliikenteellä tänne säilöntäaineilla pumpattuna eksoottisia marjoja ja hedelmiä kun voisimme sen sijaan hyödyntää läheltä löytyviä puhtaita raaka-aineita.


K: Mikä on lempimarjasi?

V: Kyllä se on mustikka. Syön mustikoita melkein päivittäin ja voin kyllä rehellisesti sanoa, että en ole melkein koskaan kipeä ja kaikki arvoni ja terveyteni on huippukunnossa. Tämä on korostunut erityisesti nyt ollessani raskaana! Esim monet raskausoireet kuten ummetus ja vitamiinipuutos on sellaisia joita mustikoita syömällä olen pystynyt välttämään täysin.


K: Entä lempituotteesi BärBarilla?

V: One More Straw ja Tender Tyrni smoothiet. Ne on aivan älyttömän hyvän makuisia!

K: Miksi ihmisten tulisi syödä enemmän marjoja?

V: Oman hyvinvointinsa takia! Marjoista saa älyttömästi hyviä vitamiineja, kuituja ja hivenaineita. Takaan että jos syöt vaikka 1dl mustikoita joka päivä (kaikki tuotteemme sisältävät ainakin 2 dl marjoja!) niin huomaat eron siinä miten ruoansulatus toimii ja flunssat pysyy poissa.


K: Onko BärBarilla tulossa enemmän tapahtumia (vink vink), kuulemma oli suosittu Chakra Tune Up meikäläisen kanssa?

V: On! Ainakin joogajuttuja toukokuussa ja kenties jotain tuleville äideille ;)


K: Mikä motivoi sinua/inspiroi?

V: Se miten positiivista palautetta saamme asiakkailtamme ja miten paljon kanta-asiakkaita meillä on! Ihmiset ovat tykänneet konseptistamme ja tuotteistamme ja se tekee minut aivan älyttömän iloiseksi. Toivon että pystymme tekemään

ihmiset iloiseksi. Se oli meille tosi tärkeä osa tätä konseptia.


K: Lempi ig tilit?

V: @myberryforest - Tiina on paitsi ihmisenä ihana myös aivan älyttömän taitava loihtimaan maistuvia vegaanisia tuotteita suomalaisista marjoista. Hänen kuvansa ovat myös aivan super hienoja. Hän onkin suunnitellut meille monta tuotetta ja toivon että voimme jatkaa yhteistyötä vielä tulevaisuudessa. Muuten minulla ei oikein ole mitään selkeitä suosikkeja, on vaan kiva seurata ystävien meininkiä ja ihastella vaikkapa kauniita luontokuvia.


K: Life slogan?

V: Hmmm, tämä on paha. Mutta jos vähän syvempää haetaan niin varmaankin joku mikä korostaa sitä että pitää tehdä eikä vain unelmoida. Niken legendaarinen, Just do it ? Ja sitten joku mikä korostaa sitä, ettei kannata seurata laumassa muita, mm why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary


K: Kerro jotain outoa itsestäsi (jotain mitä kukaan ei tiedä)?

V: Pelkään suihkulähteitä ja sprinklereitä. Ja tykkään kylmästä maksalaatikosta (rusinoilla tottakai!).

Kiitos ihana Jassu!