Atte Heiskanen

Atte Heiskanen sitting in a moody room with red curtains.

Helsinki has many great places for practicing melancholy.

Atte Heiskanen

Originally from the somewhat remote Finnish city of Kuopio, Atte Heiskanen knew at the age of 16 that he would one day move to Helsinki. It took him two years until one summer day, while sunbathing on the granite rocks in Kuopio, Heiskanen decided to put his plan into action. The very next day he caught a train to Helsinki and began looking for a job in the capital. He found one by walking into the Farang restaurant and asking the restaurant manager if any jobs were available. Heiskanen was 18 at the time and lived in his girlfriend's aunt's office on Annankatu.

“I knew that Helsinki could offer me what I was looking for,” Heiskanen remembers.

Today, Heiskanen is a nearly 28-year-old Helsinki-based entrepreneur who describes himself as a positive dreamer and doer. After Farang, Heiskanen worked in a grocery store, a kindergarten, the Stockmann department store and various jobs in the clothing industry.

“It was easy to settle in Helsinki, because some good friends moved here from Kuopio at the same time as me, so it felt like we were not alone. It was also easy to meet new people here, and I have made a lot of new friends. Still, I spent my first five years here trying to find my direction and figuring out what I wanted to do.”

“Heiska” has been fascinated by clothing since he was a child, and today he is realising his fashion-related dreams as Chief Operating Officer at the Finnish clothing brand Formal Friday and by consulting young brands in the field, such as Latimmier and Vain. Together with Paavo Hiltunen he is also leading a local design project named Danny Wu that is creating everything from fashion to sinks. In addition to fashion, he is also involved in other creative projects, such as Boys Reading Poems on Instagram and the System Greenhand planting project. In Helsinki's nightlife, Heiskanen also organises techno parties with his friends. He considers all his projects therapeutic.

“I recently put together my portfolio and found that all these projects form a timeline in dealing with all of my different life stages and emotions. Despite what you might think, you don’t have to stick with all your projects until the very end. You can leave a project when you have got what you need and move on to the next one. At the same time, you can give to others, and all my projects are for people – mainly Helsinki residents.”

Helsinki is important to Heiskanen because of all his friends, all the opportunities and, above all, the feeling of home he gets here.

“Part of me will always be back in North Savo, but I want to take risks, live on the edge and experience more. I like big cities and could also see myself living abroad for a while, but Helsinki is my base. Everything is good here, and in Finland in general.”

The best thing about Helsinki, according to Heiskanen, is simply walking, looking around, sitting in cafés and relaxing. It is important to spend time with friends, but also alone, during creative projects.

“I’m a really melancholic person, and Helsinki has many great places for practicing melancholy!