A lively city at the Arctic – Rovaniemi flourishes with the aid of local businesses

Read this interview with Head of Likiliike, Ms. Marika Tiikkaja, to get an nice overview of the Finnish Lapland capital, Rovaniemi. Also spot some hints and tips for your visit in Rovaniemi!

What is your background?

I consider myself to be from Lapland, although due to my parents’ work I was born down south. We moved to Lapland when I was three, and excluding a couple of phases when I worked abroad, I have lived up here all my life.

Describe Lapland in three words.

Beautiful, fresh, lovable.

How does being from Lapland exhibit itself in you?

In my attitude towards life and in my straight-forwardness. I appreciate the arctic and the power one gets from it.

When you were abroad, what did you miss about Lapland?

The fresh air, the spaciousness, the nature, and the changing seasons – just the everyday life, which is largely dictated by the seasons. When I lived in the tropics, every day felt the same. In Lapland, nature and weather bring variability and unpredictability – a certain degree of wonderful unexpectedness: you can have a freezing snow storm and then clear, sunny, even warm weather, all in one week. Before I left, I thought Rovaniemi was a terribly boring place. It took some distance to see better what I was surrounded by. 

What made you want to become Head of Likiliike?

My love for Rovaniemi! What joy it is to enhance local entrepreneurship and to improve the visibility of local skills, knowhow, and products!

How would you describe the goals of Likiliike?

Our mission and our most important task is to help local businesses flourish. We aim at getting both businesses themselves as well consumers – locals and visitors alike – to consume local products and services. This makes local business profitable and ensures that services remain in the area. We also want to highlight how the local businesses are not some faceless, nameless corporate machines, but that they are owned and operated by real people from around here – often by families, whose lifework the business is. 

The purple, round sign can be seen on windows and walls of various shops and other service providers in Rovaniemi. This quarantees you, that this business in locally owned. Support local when making decisions where you buy!

What do you see as the biggest bonus of Likiliike for a tourist?

More than anything else, the benefits to the visitors are value-based: by following our logo and choosing a product with a “Liki-Tuote” sign, the visitor can be sure that the money is spent to help the local businesses and work force. At its worst, tourism comes with side effects that are detrimental to the destination. This applies to businesses, too. Chains eat smaller family-owned and operated businesses and the money spent escapes to other countries. By choosing a Likiliike and/or a Liki-Tuote you can be sure that the money you spend benefits the local community. Naturally, it also adds to the authenticity of your shopped items when they are guaranteed to be local. I wouldn’t want to travel to Central Europe and as souvenirs, bring clothes made in Sweden.

What are Likiliike’s goals for the near future, and beyond?

We asssist local businesses in serving their clientele even better. We are also developing our brand-new concept Liki-Tuote, which is a guaranteed local product – a minimum of 60% of the product’s total costs, including labor etc. – are local. With Liki-Tuote, we want to make it all the more easy to get products that truly are from here! My own vision for the movement to grow beyond Rovaniemi, or even Lapland, and to become a force that supports local efforts everywhere.

Jätkänkynttilä Bridge in Rovaniemi, Lapland

What do you think everyone who visits Rovaniemi should see or do?

Lift your chin up and your eye gaze off your phone screen, and stare at the horizon – as far as the eye can see. Breathe, enjoy, and admire. Go on a tour – guided, if you are afraid of getting lost – and spend some time in the forest. The versatile outdoor activities of Ounasvaara offer an outstanding window for peeking into the soul of people from Lapland – nature and quiet in the middle of the city, and the calming power of the forest. Taste genuine nature superfoods. Real reindeer delicacies are definitely worth trying. Step into stores with the Likiliike-logo and you’ll be sure to meet true locals, who are happy to help you out!

What are your greetings to people visiting Rovaniemi?

I hope you get to feel the spontaneity and grounded atmosphere, the incredible nature and the magical powers of the seasons, the arctic light – as well as the lack of light! – and the nature phenomena like Northern Lights and the changing colors in the autumn. I also wish you get to know some local people who, after taking their time warming up to strangers, are modest, warm and funny. Enjoy!

This interview was written by a Likiliike member, Ms. Maria Selin / Arcticom.fi