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Focus on Makia women's designer Elina Lappalainen

Focus on Makia women's designer Elina Lappalainen

“More than a designer, I´m an observer.”

When I was a little girl, all my clothing was made by my mother or my grandmothers.
The reasons were simple, either there were not small enough sizes for me, or the ones I wanted were too expensive or not available in our local stores. Back then, the internet wasn´t a thing, but MTV was, and I got all my clothing inspiration from the endless stream of music videos and shows. That was my getaway, and back then, the highlights of the year were award shows and fashion week. You didn´t run into that stuff in the middle of the forests and fields where we lived.
Inspired by all that, I used to drape “red carpet” dresses from curtains on my little sister. It was too difficult to do it on myself.

Around the time I was ten years old, I got to design my first winter jacket, which then my mother made according to my instructions. Come to think of it, it reminds me of the styles I still create today; a big hood, oversized fit, and as comfortable as possible. Back then, there was more color, but the fundamentals have stayed the same.
I was so proud of that beautiful jacket, but the first day I wore it to school, I jumped over a fence, and a seam broke. That was not a problem in itself; I knew my Mom would fix it. Later I have come to think that at that point, I also understood that function is a key thing in clothing.

I came to study the clothing industry purely for selfish reasons. Through my childhood experience, the influence that MTV had on me, and the fact that I still could not find anything fitting me, I decided to do a combined degree with vocational school and high school. And of course, I chose dressmaking.

As the time came close to graduation, I went to visit Aalto University for design studies. I felt so out of place there; I didn’t even apply. Back then, I was really shy and felt as tiny as I was and still am. So, as life happens, I decided that in order to take the leap, I first needed to get my base in order and do something “smart” and “normal” so that if I fail in my dream, I will still have a back-up.

Then I found myself in my first apartment. I also got into theater and, inspired by that, started studying theater make-up. I soon figured out I´m broke and needed a job with flexible hours. So I began to work in catering and figured out I really love customer service. I then applied to culinary school, got in, and moved to Helsinki. And that is the short version of things!

As said before, I loved customer service, and I really need to give thanks to all the fantastic people that I got to work with. They got me out of my shell and showed me that I´m not as invisible as I thought I was. I worked as a fine dining waitress for several years, but at some point, I realized that it was time to make my own dreams come true and drop everything I had accomplished and start from scratch. I have my friend Sabina to thank for the push.

Eventually, I applied to Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and got into the bachelor of fashion and clothing. I still did not have the guts or desire to apply to design studies. I wanted to stay in the background. I wanted to know the business’s ins and outs, as a whole, and be the supportive act of the process and not the front. My desire was to design processes and help people in their creativity. I still think of myself as a creative problem solver than a pure designer. Don´t get me wrong, I breathe form, function, and beauty, but in my small little bubble called life, I do love a good problem as a challenge.

At some point in my studies, I worked in an event that had a Makia Raglan Parka jacket as part of the outfit. That was instant love, and it captured me. That was it. After that, I decided that I will try to apply for an internship for them. And that is how my story with Makia began.

“To me, inspiration-seeking is something that involves neutrality.”

To me, inspiration is a process of living and observing. I have tried to train my brain to work for that end unconsciously. It is a constant process, and when it´s time, I try to tap into it and trust that all that I need is there. My main focus is to try and stay as neutral as I can and just try to take it all in without too much analysis, without intention, without seasons, just take it in and learn from it. For me, it could be a feeling, an atmosphere, a twisted way you see stuff, a mistake in your vision, but besides that, I mostly get inspired by solving everyday problems that we face in our daily lives.

Often my genuine answer to a question of “Where did the inspiration for this jacket come from?” is; “I was cold and wet. So, I tried to fix it.” My purpose for making anything comes from the motivation of making people feel good, to help them, to make them feel comfortable, and empower them to be the best possible version of themselves. That is all there is to me. I want people to feel good and maybe make their life a little bit easier in the long run. That is all I want, and to me, that’s an inspiration itself.

Our lives are about evolving and learning what we can. The hardest thing is to try and be better tomorrow than today and still be present in the now. But what I have learned from my life of dreaming is this; don’t wait, there is no point, just do it so you can live in it.

Through the rough seas,