MAKERS | Hile
With cream. A little sugar. A lot of sugar. Straight up black. Irish. Hot. Cold. There are many ways to enjoy a caffeinated jolt in the morning (or afternoon). Coffee has long surpassed the days when it was just a drink; it’s short of a religion for many people. And the worship happens daily.
The way we make it, store it, and present it is all part of the ritual of enjoying a cuppa’. Hilja Nikkanen of HILE is putting her stamp on products that make sure our beans stay fresh and our filters flat. Founded in Finland 6 years ago, HILE has evolved from a hobby into an internationally known brand. Being that Finn’s are actually the world’s largest coffee consumers per capita, it’s not surprising that despite a wider range in their initial product offerings, Hilja found that her main focus was quickly steered towards coffee related items. Their Kapu coffee scoop and bag closer, and Sola filter holder have garnered significant fandom that Hilja was able to translate into a full-time job.
HILE’s design responsibilities are shared with Hilja’s husband Teemu and together they pursue their goal of bringing “...locally produced items [to] coffee lovers.” Driven by an innate desire to create, Hilja started as a professional chef, and has transitioned smoothly into the world of design.
“I've been an entrepreneur already for 10 years. Sometimes part time, sometimes full. It has been my choice to be creative and to control my own work. My father was also an entrepreneur in the design field my whole childhood, so starting a company came really naturally to me.”
Far from the typical nine to five, every day at HILE is different. Hilja can find herself sanding, branding, and polishing for days without even touching a computer. Next she is packing up for holiday markets or revamping their website.
“In practice, I'm everything from the secretary to CEO, from bookkeeper to the marketing manager, and from carpenter to purchasing agent. I just have to divide my tasks well for the week [to stay on top of everything.]”
Luckily, despite managing another job her husband Teemu helps out when he has time, both with the business and with raising their son. HILE has become a kind of family business, and separating it totally from their lives isn’t realistic. As long as Hilja maintains her self-set schedule, production, design, and family all have a place at the table. (Along with her favourite coffee!)
This past Spring, HILE found itself taking a new step towards becoming a household name among coffee enthusiasts at the Helsinki Coffee Festival. As an entrepreneur, finding new partners and retailers is often best accomplished face to face with fellow lovers of your industry. Even though we have never had the pleasure of meeting Hilja in person, we are already hooked. Find her top selling items in-store and on our website, and bring a little freshness and a little Finland to your morning.