Käytämme evästeitä parantaaksemme kokemustasi tällä sivustolla. Evästeiden avulla analysoimme kävijämääriä, luomme mielekästä mainontaa, sekä tarjoamme räätälöityä sisältöä.

It all started with a sewing machine in 1967

As a young man, Olavi Koivunen worked in a bag company as a riveter. During that time, he met Annikki and bought her a sewing machine, which is how it all began.

“It was a bit of a homespun operation at first, but we had to start somewhere. We remember well when we cut leather in the sauna room, and the sewing machine was clacking away in the living room.

Naturally, our children grew up in the midst of bag-making. The hum of the sewing machine
didn’t bother them; on the contrary, they always wanted to cut threads and do other easy tasks.”

- Annikki & Olavi

Initially, Olavi and Annikki made bags for other companies. At this stage, neither of them had any training in the field, but learned everything through trial and error.

“The beginning was, of course, a learning curve because we hardly had any experience. But we had plenty of enthusiasm. And when you have enthusiasm, you learn things quickly.”

- Olavi

Gradually, however, a vision for their own brand emerged. Olavi and Annikki’s dreams came true in the early 1970s when the company they founded, OK Product, came into being.

Olavi and Annikki quickly became pioneers in the world of bags. They first introduced frame bags, then embroidered bags, and finally, bags made from brushed leather, which changed the couple’s

“The ‘70s and ‘80s were our golden years. We built a large production hall, and at its peak, we had 40 employees. We made so many bags that we couldn’t even keep track of who they were made for. But they were flying off the shelves.

At that time, we sold bags to Finland, Sweden, Norway, England, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.”

- Annikki & Olavi

One story stands out for Annikki and Olavi from their years of success, where they tangibly saw their achievements and felt their reputation abroad. The events took place in Paris in the 1980s. Luck also played its part.

“We were at a fashion fair in Paris. A stranger came to talk to us, but we couldn’t really understand them because neither of us spoke the language. We picked up on enough of the French to understand that we should immediately go to the La Samaritaine department store.

So, we decided to go to the department store, although we were wondering what we were doing there. Looking back, it was worth it.

We walked through the sliding doors of La Samaritaine, and the sight was unbelievable. There were 600 OK Product bags in front of our eyes. It felt like the entire department store was filled with nothing but those bags made by us.

From the sauna room to the La Samaritaine display window – now there’s a bit of contrast.”

- Annikki & Olavi

Reaching the top of the bag world and staying there for over a decade was a rewarding and instructive time. However, difficult times began when imports from low-cost countries accelerated, which proved fatal for the OK Product story.

“Imports from low-cost countries took over the market, and our demand dwindled accordingly. We were in a situation where we had made significant investments in production facilities and personnel, but sales were no longer the same.

We were under considerable pressure. At the same time that business was no longer profitable, the bank and the tax authorities demanded their share. We tried our best until we only had one option left.

I don’t look back on that time fondly,
but we managed to survive it. Even though we lost everything else, our skills and passion remained.”

- Annikki & Olavi

As the saying goes, every ending is a new beginning. Annikki and Olavi still had resilience, and they tried again. This time, the younger generation also joined in, and their son Sami took over the company’s leadership.

Sami’s involvement brought new momentum and hope for the future. The goal was to return to the Swedish market. The brand was renewed, and the product brand became Okay’s.

“As a young man, I started the export efforts again, starting with the Swedish market. We started from scratch again; it had been almost 20 years since our last sale in Sweden.

There was a new generation in the stores, just as there was with us. Old stores had closed, and new ones had taken their place.

The biggest challenge at the beginning was the language. I was afraid to speak Swedish, a language I hated the most in school. However, I managed to introduce myself and my business on the phone.

That’s how things got started, and I scheduled the first meetings in Stockholm.”

- Sami

“My father (Olavi) and I traveled together. He was the driver, and I read the map and handled the communication with the customers.

It quickly became clear that our collection needed improvements. We listened carefully to the customers and made changes to our products.

Our hard work paid off when we started receiving orders after a few trips without sales. Soon, we were on everyone’s lips in the bag business all over Sweden. The network of retailers grew to over 50

During the conquest of Sweden, I also initiated contacts with Norway. We succeeded there, too. We got nearly 30 new retailers.”

- Sami

“One trip, in particular, stands out in my memory when we became exhibitors at a bag fair in Oslo.

On the way, we stopped in Örebro, Sweden. At that time, it was the headquarters of the
Handsmakarn chain, which had about 70 stores across Sweden. We had pitched our bags there before, but without success. This time, it clicked! The order was for over 3000 bags!

The fair in Oslo also went well, and we found ourselves facing a good kind of problem: how would we get all those bags made and delivered on time? At the same time, Stockmann in Finland increased their purchases.”

- Sami

“That was a time when I felt great pride in our products and, of course, in myself. I was the Finnish ‘Bag King’ in the lands of the Swedish and Norwegian kings.

That dizzying success lasted a few years until winds of change began to blow. Online shopping began to emerge, affecting sales in
physical stores. Bags from globally renowned big brands flooded our markets. Stockmann in Finland renewed its brand and removed us from their selection.

Our network of retailers shrank, and traditional bag stores went out of business. We faced a new challenge: how do we get our bags to consumers when there are no retailers?”

- Sami

“In the early 2010s, we started to really focus on the design of our equestrian product family. We began attending equestrian fairs and events to present the new product line.

The reception was good from the start, although there were skeptics. Luckily, we trusted our vision, and today, the equestrian-themed bags are our best-selling products.”

- Sami

Horse-themed bags and accessories

“In 2017, my wife Iiris and I made a big decision. Iiris quit her job as a hair salon entrepreneur and joined our family business.

At the same time, the third generation stepped up. Our son Severi took charge of establishing the online store and marketing.”

- Sami

Thank you for reading the incredible and eventful story of Okay’s, the quality brand of Finnish leather bags!

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