Pictures: KN Collection
“I’m never satisfied,” Kati Niemi of KN Collection said during my recent visit to her Kerava headquarters. However, the thirty-two-year-old Niemi has a lot to celebrate during her eight-year tenure at the helm, as KN has blossomed into a company that boasts stockists from Espoo to Rovaniemi and everywhere in-between. In Helsinki alone, KN is available in thirteen locations, including Sokos and Stockmann. “Stockmann has supported us for fifteen years, and has really helped us grow,” added Niemi. Stockmann sees such potential in KN, that they have given the Uusimaa based company 15 square meters in the Aleksanterinkatu flagship to outfit with their collection. For hat lovers, this will be a veritable candy shop in the heart of the city.
Hats are in Niemi’s blood as her family has been in the business since the 1940’s, when her grandfather would make hat blocks for milliners as a side venture. From hobby to incorporation, her father took things a step further and began to sell hats designed primarily for weddings. While KN primarily focuses on more day to day accessories, Niemi hasn’t turned her back on occasion head gear. While it only consists of five percent of her business, a whole wall of her Kerava shop is a joyful display of wedding hats in a rainbow of colours with dazzling embellishments.
One of the most remarkable tidbits of the KN Collection story is that Niemi took over the business from her doting dad at just twenty-four years of age. After studying business in Italy and at the famed University of Cambridge in the UK, Niemi returned to Finland with a newfound business acumen and a mission to design and to outfit the perfect hat for her would-be customers, regardless of age or face shape. In fact, when creating hats, Niemi takes such variables into consideration, as some hats are suited for different for those with swan necks and those with rounder faces.
While Spring is in the air, what KN is buzzing about is Fall/Winter 2016, as cooler temperature accessories are their bread and butter. KN has much to be excited for as they are collaborating with famed Finnish blog Pupulandia’s Jenni Rotonen to make a perfectly dramatic fall hat.
As for trends that KN Collection are adopting, it is all about a touch of the ’70’s from rusty oranges to berry tones in gloriously durable felt. “Buyers have to be convinced to adopt new designs, but they are coming!” With this Niemi held up a streamlined turban with a stunning veil of glorious black netting, the perfect headpiece for anyone who wants their love-of-hats flag to fly.
KN Collection’s vintage meets modern designs are not just a one season wear. “Our hats can get wet! They are really well made by family businesses in Poland and Italy. They are good quality and are made to last for many years, but I hope people are still buying a new hat every year!”
Looking to the future, Niemi is thinking international. “Finland has 5 million people, which makes for a smaller market for fashion, if you want people spending money on fashion, you can’t stay Finland only”. Eyeing the prospect of an online store and spreading her net into Sweden and the rest of Europe, Niemi is hopeful for the future of her business. “We are growing. Slowly, but each and every year.”