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Makia & Friends: Jussi Oksanen

Makia & Friends: Jussi Oksanen

Jussi Oksanen is one of the all-time greats when it comes to freestyle snowboarding. He was also one of the three friends who founded Makia, although he decided to leave the business endeavor at the early phase. Besides that, Jussi has kept up the pace as one of Mizu’s founders and, most recently, his own production company Diving Board. He is nowadays residing with his family in Southern California while enjoying photography and the outdoors.

Tell us in short about your past growing up in Finland.

Growing up in Finland was the best. We lived in a small town about 20 miles outside of Helsinki. There are a bunch of lakes and forest around the county, so we grew up roaming around, with a ton of freedom to do our thing. I also feel very grateful to grow up in an era where we didn’t have cell phones – all we needed was our bikes, skateboards and we would be gone.

Skateboarding was a huge part of my life growing up – we had a small skate community that we spent all our time with. The winters are very long and we didn’t have any indoor skateparks, so our passion for skating transferred into snowboarding in the winter as a natural transition. We were lucky to have a small hill about 5 minute aways from my house. This became like a second home for us. Those were some of the best days of my life.

You were one of the founders of Makia, how did that come about?

I always wanted to create a brand, but I was limited to what kind of product I could represent as I was sponsored by Burton from head to toe. I was traveling with Joni Malmi at the time and we were working on a video project together and an idea came about to start a street clothing brand. Our friend Jesse was a clothing designer, so we linked up with him, and our friend — Ivar Fougstedt –was a marketing director at Burton Europe at the time and he started helping us as well. It was all pretty organic in how it came about.

Where does the name Makia come from, you came up with it?

Well, I was thinking names that had some Finnish heritage, but that would sound good in English as well as were going to be the next global brand hahaha. Makia just sounded good and Joni was down. Then Joni made a logo and we had what we needed to start making some tee shirts.

During your snowboard career you relocated to California and started a family there, tell us more.

Zoe and I got married in 2005 in Finland. My wife is from England but lived all over, so we had to make a decision to make our base somewhere where it was convenient for me to continue my snowboard career but we could still see each other regularly. Seeing as I spent most of my time filming and competing in the US, it just made the most sense to be there. Originally our plan was to move to Portland Oregon. We went there for a few weeks to look for houses – we actually found a nice home and put an offer on it. Around that time my manager called me and asked us to come to Encinitas to stay at his house and watch for his dog for a week. We flew down and had a best week ever — perfect weather, surfing every day etc – so we pulled out of the house in Portland and decided to set up our base here. We’ve never looked back.

What are the biggest differences you notice between Finland and living in the states? Culture, mind set, etc.

At first, it was pretty hard for my wife to find friends that she could really connect with because she found the culture so different. She’s British so says things like they are — Californians make everything sound so nice all the time lol! But Encinitas in particular is packed with incredible people from all over the world and she found her tribe. Once we created our network of great friends, we felt right at home. To be honest, we live in sort of a bubble here, where you can live this pretty awesome life without getting too wrapped up with all the bullshit. People are way more outgoing and less reserved than in Finland for sure. And where we live, in particular, I’d say people are passionate about living a good life and taking care of the environment, which I love.

One thing about living here that I love the most is the sheer diversity of landscape. We have the ocean on our doorstep, but we also have the desert 2 hours away which is super fun in the winter for camping etc and the Sierra Mountain Range is only 5 hours away and you can be hiking some epic mountains and swimming in some glacier lakes the same day you surfed in the morning. But yes, I miss my sauna by the lake followed with some karhu and makkara – nothing beats that.

Tell us about MIZU and life after snow?

We started Mizu in 2008 with Brad Kremer. The idea of the brand was to help eliminate single-use plastic bottles – which was and is a huge problem all over the world. It’s been pretty amazing to see the change though. When we started people were scratching their heads over what were doing and now 12 years later having a reusable water bottle is the new normal and the issue with single-use plastic is widely acknowledged. It feels good to have made a small contribution to this evolution.

After retiring from snowboarding in 2015 I started working with Mizu full time and ran the marketing there, which taught me a lot about branding. I was able to create some fundamental brand strategies, such as brand values, our mission statement and the visual guide lines. From there I also started creating all of our content, which rekindled my love of photography again. I was also managing our social channels and the online store, so it was fun to start seeing how the content that I created would help generate revenue. Overall, this time not only allowed me to kick off my creative vision but to learn how content is utilized with brands to tell their stories and help to sell products.

Tell us about your production company and these days?

This love for creating content evolved into my next career path. Mizu got to the place where we could hire a person to continue the marketing efforts which allowed me to keep charging my passion for creating content. I partnered with Brad Kremer again (who I started Mizu with). Brad has been in the film making business for over 20 years, so he obviously has the motion side well dialed and I was coming in taking care of the photography sidewhile having an acute and hands-on understanding of brand needs. Our Production Company was born –

Our passion was to work with lifestyle and active outdoor brands to help with their visual story telling and branded content. We have now worked on projects from Volkswagen, Thule, and Specialized Bikes to Facebook. Our recent short film for Specialized Bikes ( won the New York International Film Awards Film Festival which we were stoked on as it featured our good friend Jeremy Jone’s story of recovery since his near-fatal avalanche.

I also work solo on brand photo shoots on everything from campaigns to catalogs and social content. You can see more of my work at and @jussioksanen. I don’t ever take for granted how lucky I am to be able to follow yet another passion in life and make a living from it.

Free word.

I’m truly excited for the Makia Crew that they were able to continue with the brand and create what it is today. Huge kudos for that! I’m proud of the whole team! Other than that – keep living passionately and spread the positive vibes out to the world. Enjoy your life and make sure you get out in nature as much as you can. In nature, everything makes sense and it helps to put life in the right prospective. Go hug some trees my friends!