Once upon a time, I have fell in love with the Finnish designer name Samuji. I have bought couple of their clothing pieces and was happily wearing them over and over again. I even had a collaboration with them sometime ago on my blog here . Little did I know that after randomly coming across one Instagram account and being inspired by the photos and person behind it, I was going to meet one of the “Samuji people”, Antonia!
This beautiful woman (inside and on the outside) while not directly anymore working with Samuji, still wholeheartedly supports them and has some shares in the company. Right now Antonia is concentrated on a bag brand which she’s part of with two other founders of ASK Scandinavia.
Find out more about this brand and read a small Q&A with me on their blog here.
1/ What is your name and age?
Hi! My name is Antonia Hamberg and I’m 35.
2/ What are your roots and what is your connection to Helsinki?
I am born in Espoo, a suburban, neighbouring city to Helsinki and I spent my childhood there in small place called Haukilahti that is about 20 minutes from the city center of Helsinki. Both my parents are Swedish speaking Finns and usually people outside of Finland are surprised that Finland is a bilingual country were about 5,3 % of the population speaks Swedish as their mother-tongue because Finland used to be part of Sweden for a long time between the 13th century to 1809. I also have some Russian blood from further back in my family-three from both my parents sides which is quite understandable due to Finland’s proximity and relations to Russia; we used to be part of Russia as well.
Nowadays I live in Helsinki where I have lived (when not living abroad) since my late teens when I moved away from home and went to study Marketing at the Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki.
3/ How do you like living in Helsinki as compared to life in New York city which you’ve used to live in?
Although Helsinki is really small for being a capital city, I find it quite likeable and so much easier to live in, than New York because Helsinki has such a village vibe to it: everything is almost at walking distance and you bump into people you know everywhere. Running errands is easy making everything very manageable compared to NYC. Naturally New York has a very unique and exciting energy to it that I definitely miss. You have all the latest restaurant trends and excellent food around the corner, so much wonderful and eclectic art and culture everywhere and such a unique blend of people – I always liked looking at and trying to figure out the story of all the different kind of people you see on the subway, on the streets and in restaurants as well as the possibility of meeting so many different types of people.
In the long run it can be quite consuming to live in such a high-paced, ambitious and noisy city like NYC I missed the quality of life that we cherish and appreciate in Europe, I really missed the more humane values that we have in Scandinavia and I missed the Finnish nature and sea: I love that Helsinki is a seaside city, which should definitely be taken advantage of more than it is now. But I’m happy though to see that there has been great addition lately of seaside places to enjoy together surrounded by the view and feeling of the sea like the public sauna Löyly, Mattolaituri, restaurant Holiday, the development of island Lonna with a restaurant, bar and places to hang out, Hernesaaren Ranta and the Allas Pools for instance but there is potential for so much more!!
4/ What are the advantages and what are the disadvantages of living and working in Helsinki compared to advantages of those in NYC?
New York really makes you dig into all your strengths, power and potential because you have to be the best version of yourself to find your way in the metropolitan city that it is, so having lived there gave me a completely different perspective on the concept of work ethic and it made me quite a lot more social than I think I was before my 3 years there. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the city so closely but I’m happy to be back in Helsinki now but something about the energy of NYC draws me in, so who knows what the future will bring? I also think that New York has much more interesting opportunities work wise to offer than Helsinki, but it takes a lot to grab the good spots, however, if you work hard enough everything is pretty much possible. So that is definitely something really great about a big city compared to a small one like Helsinki where there is not as many intriguing companies to work for.
5/ What inspires you the most in your work?
I have a degree in both business and design so for me the challenge has been to combine both the creative and business side of myself; being a bit of a jack-of-all-trades has been both a strength and a curse and it has taken me a while to find my place and I’m still working on it but I guess that’s part of life’s beauty as well – that it’s a constant forwards movement and growing experience. Fashion, everything that stimulates both visually and the mind, as well as humanity with all its complexities, has always been intriguing to me so having worked in fashion, marketing and sales now for the last 6 years I would say that different ways to bring happiness, inspiration and new ways of seeng things and making more sustainable choices inspires me in what I do, as well as for some reason having ended up being a business minded person, I find myself also usually being interested in what sells and how much something costs as well as thinking about the sustainable aspect of it. Finding ways to do things as efficiently, and as well as possible has also always interested me a lot and also taken me very close to a few burn outs too, so I have learned that balance is very important 😉
6/ What is the latest trip you’ve been on and what was the most memorable trip you ever took?
My last trip was to the french part of Switzerland over Easter holidays visiting family that lives there. My grandparents moved to Switzerland when my grandfather retired so Switzerland has been sort of a second home country to me and I spend a lot of time there as I am quite a family-oriented person. One of my most memorable trips has got to be a boat trip that I did with a group of friends going around the Maldives islands. The incredible turquoise colour of the sea, the underwater world of fish, turtles and corals, the immense amount of small islands, the fresh grilled fish, the seashells on the endless amounts of white sand beaches, the sunsets and the pink skies where just magical.
7/ Your life motto?
I’ve never really had one life motto but I have always believed in kindness and authenticity; that hard work usually pays off and that looking at the cup as half full makes life more fulfilling and wonderful. Lately I have also tried to keep things lighter, not be too serious and to really appreciate both the small things and the bigger ones and never take anything as a given and to try to remember that we all have our own battles and demons that nobody knows anything about so I try to judge others as little as possible and I tend to stay away from too much negative vibes.
8/ Your hobbies?
Hmm, I have always been fairly active but I tend to jump from one thing to another so when it comes to hobbies and sports, consistency is not my strength. Right now Im not really doing any sports which I have a bad conscious about but I’m working on it and looking into different things that could work for me. I do read quite a lot of different stuff like local and international newspapers (I like the Financial Times and International New York Times Weekend editions) and lifestyle/fashion magazines like Porter, Kinfolk, US Vogue and Elle, Vanity Fair etc as well as books and sometimes articles on the web. I am very interested in art so I go to see exhibitions in galleries and museums as well as try to read and learn more about it. I also love spending time at our family cottage in Inkoo which is about 50 minutes from Helsinki, and I like in general to spend time outside and close to nature, going for walks and I really enjoy saunas and spending time with friends and family, eating out, going to cafes and listening to music and learning new stuff.
9/ Recommend a book, movie and song?
Book: I would say the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It was quite life changing for me when I read it in my earlier teens. If something newer I would say A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara.
Movie: I’m going to say Moonlight because it was really touching, smart and beautiful.
Song: I listen to a bit of everything and I tend to listen to something a lot and then I move to the next thing. Recently I have not been able to stop listening to this Swedish band called Säkert! and a song called Stilla Utan Hat. There’s just something so beautiful about that song and the melody. Also, I just heard The National’s I Need My Girl recently after a long while and it took my breath away.
10/ Name 3 things you would bring with you to a deserted island.
A group of friends and family (can we count that as one) my bikini and a good book.