Entrepreneur Diary career change

As an entrepreneur for a new career

I knew in advance that this spring would be a whole new kind. I left my paid job in January at the edge of a completely unknown person, as an entrepreneur. At that point, I didn’t really even know for sure if I could finally set up an online store. However, I knew a lot about the fashion world and in light of that knowledge, I was sure I wanted to do more. I was frustrated to wait for the clothing industry and consumption to slowly become more responsible. I wanted to change the direction of my career and take bigger steps.

Entrepreneur Maj-Lis Viitanen

Interview with Helsingin Sanomat in April

The first milestone was reached when the Upcycler online store was ready to open at the end of February. Around the same time, news began to come of a distant virus that suddenly began to become a near and big part of all of our lives. Spring then became even different in a way I had never been able to think of.

Direction checks

I wanted to serve not only those who already shop ecologically, but also those who would like to make more sustainable choices, but find it too laborious or can't find the right products for their needs. I thought of people as I did in my “former life”: meetings, meetings, a close pace of work. Combining awareness, external requirements and everyday realities. Suddenly, this group of customers was isolated at home, with needs and lifestyles completely changed. The celebrations of the fashion store's traditionally profitable spring had also been canceled. So at the beginning of my selection, I had focused in many ways on events and needs that didn’t even exist.

When there is a desire to trade specifically responsibly, I wonder many times whether, for example, keeping discount sales at all is in line with Upcycler’s values. Do discounts feed on reckless buying? Or could they help people make more ecological choices at a time that is challenging for many financially and in many other ways?

As a result of the reflection and financial weighing, Upcycler was considered a summer sale. At the same time, I was pleased to find that Upcycler has found a very responsible clientele. Many have said that they have long considered purchasing a particular product or are now buying it for long-term use.

The same of course I noticed anyway. The general horrors of online shopping, returns, have been very moderate and justified at Upcycler. Many online stores consider returns to be paid to reduce reckless purchases. In fact, I did not want to rely on the discretion of the customers and have been since the beginning of Returns free of charge. I myself do not buy anything, at least clothes, if there is a risk that, despite good intentions, I will end up with a disadvantage myself without the product I want. So I did not want to impose this risk on my customers either.

Recycling fashion company Upcycler Helsinki

The manufacture of own products was left behind in the spring.

The production of the own brand planned for the spring fell short of what was planned, when working time and space were shared with the distance school. However, as an entrepreneur, changes in recommendations or sudden movements did not cause major palpitations, one’s own plans when there was an opportunity to change flexibly. The often cycling entrepreneur envoy has also had a small auxiliary envoy with him.

Entrepreneur and mother of a schoolboy

Combining distance school and entrepreneurship went pretty smoothly.

And there are plans that have been changed, many times! The organizing service I planned will crown your crown right at the beginning, but will probably get a slightly different shape in the future. There are many kinds of ideas constantly circulating in the mind to promote more sustainable consumption alongside e-commerce. The idea is still bumpy and the final direction is yet to be determined.

One’s own art form is balancing with one’s own resources. There are a lot of things I would like to do better and more beautifully and right on top of the last one, but I can’t do everything. Incompleteness is sometimes hard to tolerate.

What is enough?

Although I have thought a lot and earnestly about Upcycler’s principles, I also constantly question them. What is enough? What is right? What is ecological enough and am I doing enough myself? With the complexity of the responsibility issues, I will certainly struggle as long as I can continue this business.


Aalto University's Finix project, which wants to encourage purchasing power among domestic, responsible companies, contributed to the reflection by publishing #-Resistant clothinglisting. One of the highlights of the spring was access to this list. The view of an outside party gave me the necessary confirmation that the company is on the right track.

Still, perhaps the most touching feedback has come from a high school-aged young person. His feedback on the importance of my work brought a lot of joy and new enthusiasm. Young people are awake and hearing and growing to make more ecological choices much wiser than we previous generations.

I've got to be with young people in cooperation in the form of a workshop, while steering the Second Life Catwalk and high school students organized by the Climate Arena Clothing & Environment workshop. I hope to do more of this kind of advocacy in the future.

Entrepreneur Maj-Lis Viitanen

Workshop recording on Facebook

Growth of your size

In the beginning, Upcycler’s selection included a dozen brands, now along the way the number has doubled and continues to grow. In addition to the more traditional retail selection at the beginning, the selection now also includes custom-made products and custom-made products. These can be used not only to meet many ecological challenges, but also to offer the desired product the right size for many in an otherwise limited selection.

Recycled fashion, especially in clothing, is still marginal. Product availability and resale opportunities are therefore very limited. Thus, Upcycler will not become large and extensive in the future either. However, I am still looking for more to offer, especially for the range of clothes.


I have sometimes wondered afterwards that What a thought decide to do e-commerce on their own, without the knowledge of the technical implementation really nothing. However, I trusted that I would learn. With a quick calculation, twenty new programs or applications that e-commerce and business have brought with them come to mind. I also know far more about the diversity and challenges of recycling today than when I started. There will still be Aha experiences and there will be no work from this work. And that's just what I wanted; grab something new and learn.


Nonetheless, some days it feels like I’m getting too far from my goals or I haven’t achieved just about anything. That’s when I try to think about the beginning and the moment when there was nothing but a firm will to try. During this half year, however, has been much Upcyclerille and has formed its own, Smosh successor to his kingdom. I have to explore all the followers and greatly appreciate each and the order is worth gold! Thank you!

thank you customers

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