2 black leather belts , handmade in Joutsa

Leather belts, Various Artists, 2016

Leather belts, Various Artists, 2016


As in many remote villages, small local businesses are few and far between. Two competing retail chains, the K and S supermarkets, are omnipresent, and most probably the main reason that neighbourhood shops have disappeared. 

The local cobbler, Aarno, has been active in Joutsa for 40 years. Ironically enough, at the time, small cities attracted quite some young people through education programmes to promote local entrepreneurship. During his teens and early twenties, Aarno worked wherever there were jobs. it didn't matter if he was educated or not, there was work all around. After his military service he wanted to pursue a career in the army, until Mister Minute, a Belgian company, offered him a higher salary as a cobbler. They invited him to the city of Oulo where in six weeks’ time he was taught a new profession as well as how to start his own business repairing shoes and making wallets, mittens, belts and suspenders.

Today he is officially retired but his workshop is his second home where he will service the locals as long as he can. After one and a half hours it's clear that he loves talking with his clients and sharing his personal stories. He has seen the town of Joutsa change drastically over the years. Before there were the wood and textile industries, as well as a famous hotel. The industries closed and people began leaving Joutsa. Even Aarno's business is suffering from a globalized world. He used to make small purses or mittens with leather leftovers from a furniture factory in Lahti. Now these leftovers are bought in bulk by Swedish companies or exported to China before being imported again as cheap wallets.

Various Artists bought a pair of handmade leather mittens, two handmade black leather belts, and a piece of moose skin.

  • seuropa.ihey (2 black leather belts , handmade in Joutsa) 
  • seuropa.ih.re worked by innumerat
  • seuropa.ih.za worked by Robert Ingelbreč
  • seuropa.ih.hey worked by Hélène Thensiau