CrowdInk just had the chance to sit down with Sasha Koskela of Koskela, the Australian-made social enterprise and furniture/design business that is changing the way we look at sourcing locally. Sasha talks about the company’s biggest challenges, being a social enterprise, and what makes Koskela different from typical design businesses.
CrowdInk: What was the inspiration behind Koskela?
Sasha Koskela: Koskela was created by Russel Koskela and me in 2000. We wanted to create a company that reflected our values and created products made locally. Our aesthetic is clean lined (Scandinavian-influenced), but with a degree of warmth that is more typical of Australia.
CI: How are you different from other furniture designers/retailers? What makes you unique?
SK: We are truly committed to the Australian-made product. For a product to make it into our store that isn’t locally made, it needs to have a social enterprise element to it.
CI: How is Koskela empowering the community? Environment?
SK: We work with three different indigenous communities, which is extremely rewarding. It’s a really important part of our business that is going to get stronger! The collaborations we have are the perfect mix of our skills and our partners, coming together to create something truly unique that neither of us could do without the other.
Environmentally, we try and find the best possible alternative as far as input materials go, create products that are built to last generations, and that can be reupholstered or refinished.
It’s tricky for us to be really at the forefront in this area as we don’t do all our own manufacturing and there always seems to be so much that can be done!
CI: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to create a social enterprise?
SK: Go for it! Get the structure right and do something that you are truly passionate about. Don’t be afraid of things not working out. It’s better to have tried and failed than to live a life of regret and longing.
CI: What has been the biggest challenge to date?
SK: Probably getting Rosebery off the ground. It was a huge step for us, going from 450m2 to 2000m2 and adding a café, gallery, and workshops to our repertoire. But finally, 4 years later, it feels like its getting closer to being where we want it to be!