FDS Award success stories: Mona Isotupa

Mona Isotupa won the 2017 FDS Award with her Pine Lip Balm concept. Now the lip balm, packaged into minimalist pine jars, has grown into an entire line of natural cosmetics that challenges the business with its ethical and environmentally friendly approach.

FDS Award success stories: Mona Isotupa
Carpenter Mona Isotupa won the FDS Award design competition in 2017.

Hi Mona! How are you?
“I'm just fine, thanks. Feet on the ground, head in the clouds.”

What's happened since the FDS Award competition?
“After the competition, I just allowed things to happen. I had even more faith in myself and what I was doing. I kept a cool head and my eyes open, and began to build a business around the products. I absorbed all possible information about the business and got more training. The Hetkinen natural cosmetics series was launched in December 2018.”

What was it like, taking part in the competition?
“Super. I submitted my work one minute before the deadline. I knew I had done my best, but didn't know whether it was enough. I was extremely flattered, surprised and happy to win. It meant a lot to me personally, and I know that I had been focusing on exactly the right and topical issue.”

Her winning entry, Pine Lip Balm, is an ethically and ecologically produced lip balm in which the product and package create a seamless entity: the container is made of Finnish pine and one of the raw materials is pine essential oil.

What kind of feedback have you received about the Pine Lip Balm concept?
“I believe that I've created more than just a product or a product range: I've got people talking about the environmental aspects and ethics of the cosmetics industry by introducing an entirely new concept on the market. I have replaced the dominant material, plastic, with wooden containers, and I only use sustainable raw materials in the cosmetics. I want to encourage the business to promote the use of sustainable materials and to challenge any unnecessary packaging materials. Everyone has the power to make changes, and all choices have an effect. Also, it's been wonderful to hear positive customer feedback about the product's fragrance, effect and consistency. The products have been helpful, and they have met the same expectations as the packaging.”

Has taking part in the FDS Award competition opened up new doors?
“The publicity created by the competition has been beneficial to me. Many encounters have led to some new interesting development. Networking is vital for entrepreneurs.”

In addition to lip balms, Mona Isotupa's Hetkinen natural cosmetic collection consists of hand balms, bodybutters, deodorants and soaps.

“I want to build a cosmetics brand that makes amazingly efficient and beautifully designed product for people around the world.”

The minimalist cylindrical containers are crafted of fragrant and antibacterial pine heartwood.

Is there anything interesting we can look forward to in 2019?
“I want to build a cosmetics brand that makes amazingly efficient and beautifully designed product for a great number of people around the world. I offer products that are unique, different and make you feel good. My products do not put a strain on the environment, and no animals have been hurt in their manufacture. Our team is bursting with enthusiasm and is proud of its achievements. Positive feedback about our products across boundaries has urged us to push on, invest in new products and to exceed customer expectations every day!”

The round salt soaps feature notes of pine and peppermint, and lemon and eucalyptus.

Who would you recommend FDS Award to?
“I would recommend the competition to anyone with a distinctive style and a product they genuinely believe in. I would also emphasize ethical and ecological values. My view is that product designers and makers have a responsibility to create better alternatives for people. I choose the materials for my product in harmony with the world. I do not use oils from Indian sandalwood or rosewood, because they are threatened species. I never considered for a moment that I'd use any hardwood, because we have so much fantastic pine here in Finland. The product must also be durable in use, not a disposable item.”

And what advice would you give to contestants?
“Normal is boring. Present some new idea or style that has not been seen before. It would be good if there was a demand for the product in the market. That will take you far.”

The Hetkinen products only contain natural ingredients and are also suitable for vegans.

What is your favorite object or piece of furniture in your home and what is the story behind it?
“As a carpenter I should of course answer that it's some piece of furniture I have made myself. But I'm not going to be that obvious. My definition of a favorite item is one that would be the last I want to give up – an item that I always take with me when I move house. I will definitely choose Louis Poulsen's PH 3/2 lamps. They give an incredibly beautiful light and I can tell from experience that there is no home they wouldn't fit in. About a year ago, I spent ten weeks in Iceland studying modern woodworking. I obviously missed my family but also wished I could have taken my lamps along, so I made cardboard replicas of them to alleviate my homesickness.”

Read also:

The FDS Award rules and programme >
FDS Award success stories: Studio Kaksikko >

Editing: Sabiina Aalto and Laura Hallikainen Images: Kaisa Sojakka Portrait: Arto Arvilahti

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