Salla Siukonen is a junior high-school teacher for both native and non-native Finnish speakers. In addition, she’s a partner at a craft beer company One Pint Pub, an advocate of two under-aged immigrants from war areas, and a mother of three. She also plays soccer in PPJ Mutsit, a team that she found after 15 years of searching. For her, life is at best when it’s filled with many different things and people.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a junior high-school teacher. I teach Finnish language for both native and non-native Finnish speakers. Becoming a teacher was a natural and clear choice for me and I still regard it as one of my life-purposes. I really enjoy to witness the prevailing change and renewal in the stage of life that people experience at the age of 13-15 years.
Three years ago I also started in beer business in One Pint Pub, which is a pub, an importer, a wholesaler and an event organizer for craft brewery beer. I wanted to learn a completely new profession, and got the idea of bar business. I started as a bartender, and later on became a partner in the company – doing all kinds of stuff like in any small company. My role in this precious community has become to introduce new ideas and initiatives, and I’m also specialized in permissions and co-operation with authorities. I’m really grateful for this chance, and the opportunity to learn new kind of appreciation of both my new and ‘old’ profession.
How about your free time?
My work is so rewarding that I tend to forget that work is work. Somehow I feel it’s all the same life. But yes, another important purpose of my life is being a mother for my three children at the ages of 5, 7 and 9.
I’m also an advocate for two under-aged immigrants who have come from war areas without their parents. It means I’m their judicial custodian in Finland until they become adults. These young people have become really important for the whole family. They have concretized to me that a care-taking adult should be a basic human right for each child. Offering a facility and authorities just isn’t enough. This combined with my experience as a teacher has shown me how much potential young people have. And how much they have to give when they get the caring they need.
I also play soccer – absolutely the best hobby one can have! I used to play as a kid, and since my student times I’ve looked for the right team. Now – 15 years later – I’ve finally found it. Our PPJ Mutsit is a unique team of women who play, cheer and encourage each other. It’s not only sports, but also socially very giving. It’s such a richness to be part of many circles of friends and move between the various feelings and atmospheres attached to them.
How would you describe yourself?
Free, impulsive and creative. A person who comes up with ideas and tries to make them real, in a very practical way. I’m also very vulnerable, but I try not to let it constrain myself too much. I would like to just let go, even when I’m scared.
What drives you at your work?
People. I enjoy interaction so much, that I don’t get tired of work that provides me that. My guiding star – my purpose – is to support young people with defective starting points to get where they want to. Of course it doesn’t always work out, but giving a try gives me pleasure.
What does the word ‘authenticity’ mean to you?
There’s no other choice than be the ‘authentic myself’. It also means being ‘the entire myself’ in different occasions – at school, in the pub, as an advocate.
Being in the brewery business has given me courage to be more authentic – also in the other areas of my life. I no longer give myself up to some ideal or norms set from outside. I feel more free to enjoy also the lightness and joy of life. I enjoy when people are close to each other - intimacy. It’s not always beautiful, but it’s authentic.
It’s really important that people don’t stick to their ‘own default circles’ so tightly. Friendships, experiences and learnings I’ve got at surprising occasions are so valuable.
Is ‘authenticity’ visible at your work?
Yes, it’s visible and necessary for me at work. If I lose it, I become unwell.
As an example, I believe there’s always a new chance and you can always try again. This applies also to myself as a teacher. I’m allowed to fail and ask for forgiveness, and it makes the relationship with the students authentic.
How do you balance your life and find time for everything?
I try to be fully present with a good feel wherever I am. I feel the best when there are a lot of people and stuff in my life. Being alone or calming down into something specific for a long time is not my thing. I’m quite fast, maybe even hasty.
We share the domestic work very evenly with my husband. And I do de-prioritize some things, like cooking – with a good conscious. I actually feel that I have control of my time, maybe that’s why I don’t feel overwhelmingly busy or don’t have a bad conscious of this and that. I even feel I get to spend enough time with my children, although it’s sometimes questioned. I love the moments when we just are together and do nothing specific. I guess it’s about the courage to live your own life.
What skill are you still going to learn?
Arabic language, I’ve started to study it from Youtube. In general I’m interested in the process of learning languages as a tool for understanding the world. It’s incredible that in my class I can have people speaking 20 different languages. I want to try to learn languages that my students speak as their mother tongue. It’s the learning process itself that motivates me, not necessarily the aim of mastering some language.
What would you tell for the teenager Salla?
Don’t be so afraid, there’s no reason. Life is not a series of accomplishments. It’s more like a fun play that you’re invited to participate.
What is your relationship with fashion and style?
It’s a way of expressing yourself, supporting your identity. But for an emotional and sensitive person like me it can also help feel safe when under pressure or stress. I’m quite practical, wear a lot of black, and I also like reused clothes. I have a friend with whom we exchange and even give clothes to each other.
I’ve also become a more conscious consumer. I appreciate that while I know the finesses of craft beer, someone else knows the finesses of clothing. When there’s a trusted brand like Vestiarium, I don’t need to know so much about the art of clothing design and production, but can count on them to do it for me. It also means a lot to me that any business starts from values – which I love about Vestiarium.