She combined her strong vision, entrepreneurial personality, and experience in design to create the shop of her dreams.
You look cute in this childhood picture! Do you have any memories about it?
I was too young then to remember when the picture was taken, but the picture reminds me of my early childhood in Trollhettan, Sweden. I have only a few memories from there but I remember the apple trees and my baby sister. I had a very happy childhood…
What’s your background?
I am a designer with a master’s degree from Aalto University of Art and Design in Helsinki. For the past 15 years, I’ve been working in different positions in design: as a designer, entrepreneur, and design and project manager. The last four years I spent leading Design Forum Shop, a retail store for contemporary Finnish design owned by the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design.
How would you describe yourself?
Driven, ambitious, curious, enthusiastic, loyal – and sometimes lazy, so I have to keep myself really busy!
Tell us the story of how TRE began?
The idea for a new omni-channel lifestyle store concept was born when I was responsible for developing and managing the Design Forum Shop in Helsinki. The revenue was good and the shop was known for having the best selection of Finnish design in Helsinki. Customers appreciate good design and love the stories behind it. I saw the potential the store had but sadly the cost structure of a shop ran by a nonprofit organization is impossible. The board of Design Forum Finland decided to shut down the store in 2014.
In attempting to save the store before it was shut down, I created a new shop concept together with creative studio Kokoro & Moi and its co-founder Teemu Suviala. We didn’t want to bury the concept we believed in, so we had it at the back of our minds for the better part of a year while working on other projects. In November 2015, I talked about it with my furniture designer friend Lasse. He loved the idea and the project suddenly got off to a flying start. Lasse and Teemu became co-founders of TRE.
The minute we sent out a newsletter about a new shop in town my phone started ringing – and it hasn’t stopped ringing ever since. The response has been extremely positive. People and companies are excited to be taking part in creating something new together.
For me, TRE represents something that combines all my thinking, ideas and beliefs from years of working in design. My experience at Design Forum Shop gave me the confidence to start the journey with TRE. And so far so good!
What would the TRE of your dreams be like?
A shop that’s inspiring and easy to approach and one that reflects our values of transparency and sustainability. It’s a store that grows and develops organically, that’s never finished but instead constantly evolves. It’ll be exciting to see what happens next and what TRE will become. I want it to be an international success story that’s always based on our values.
I also hope that our customers will have the feeling that they are part of something, as owners and active partners. TRE equals its customers, designers and collaborators.
What makes you happy?
Sometimes, nothing is better than hanging out home alone on a rainy day.
Tanja Sipilä is the CEO and Founder of World of TRE