Welcome to Optimism

Club Sisu

Last week, Team Finlandia was treated to a brand immersion – Finlanda style.
Boring? No way! This was Club Sisu. A a whirlwind tour of every element of the brand and its country of origin.
The iconic Finlandia brand is made up of three key pillars: distillation, design and nature – and each was explored in delicious detail.
That meant a visit to the bottling plant where we watched the second ever run of the newly designed Finlandia bottles being filled full of lovely pure vodka. We also got to wear some pretty spectacular gear:

Having seen the bottling plant in full flow we learnt the potted history of the brand at the Finlandia vodka museum (yes, there’s an actual museum), based on the site of the original distillery. A visit to the source of the glacial spring that provides the water for the production process followed. After naturally filtering through thousands of layers of glacial sand, the water is so pure it needs no further filtering at all before being added to the perfectly distilled alcohol that makes Finlandia vodka.
We then had a hard afternoon of studying and tests – in the form of vodka training and taste testing. Led by the inimitable double act of Markku and Pekka – Finlandia’s master vodka taster and brand mixologist, respectively – we learnt everything about how Finlandia is made and what makes it such a perfectly clean, pure vodka.

Day two started with a deep insight into Finnish culture –  a sauna. The bracing contrast of the löyly and the ice cold sea water which we jumped into straight after set us up for another day of exploring and adventuring. We toured Helsinki learning about the clean, simple design that Finland is famous for.

To get closer to the nature of Finland, we were treated to the unique experience of foraging in the forest with famous Finnish chef and foraging expert Sami Tallberg. Who knew dandelions taste like sweet clouds and that you can actually eat your Christmas tree?

And as if we hadn’t been spoiled enough, Pekka and Marku gave us a cocktail training session and then along with Sami, helped us create our own ‘Finfusions’ – vodka infusions using all of the wonderful foraged flavours.

We were also saying goodbye to our wonderful Senior Client Carmen who is heading back to New York in the coming months (if you are reading this from the US and looking for an exceptionally creative and collaborative marketeer, get in touch with him).
We left Finland full of delicious food, vodka and knowledge about the brand.  Thank you for having us Finland.

Getting creative with mental health

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we caught up with Jodie Cariss (MA, Badth, HPC), the founder of CarissCreative and Self Space, to find out more about the creative industry’s relationship with mental health.


What is driving the heightened conversation about mental health awareness within the creative industries?

There is less shame and stigma associated to the topic in the last year or so, which makes conversation more liberal. However, we still have a significant way to go in making talking about how we feel an intrinsic part of both our culture and the way we communicate.

Burn out has been a massive issue in the industry and for employers it is hard to ignore. The reality of it has bought mental health to the fore. Additionally more awareness around mental wellness and its value to us being creative and productive and the importance of reaching our potential, or at least trying, is also more present for people.

Creative industries have become more aware that people generate the creative thinking. What makes us human fundamentally is what will drive brilliant work, work that connects to people and makes impact. In a digital age we are searching more and more for those things we find meaning in.

And why is it so important?

Mental health is what makes us human and understanding it better is paramount to positive change in the way people feel. Mobilising conversation and action in this area means we become closer to living truthfully, feeling well, knowing where to go when we don’t, not feeling embarrassed, cementing a new language around feelings and managing those feelings. This will ultimately help shape the next generation in a more evolved and hopefully mentally well way.

As an employer, whilst we don’t hold ultimate responsibility for the mental health of our employees (this is the individual’s own), what we can do is create a culture where people are supported, where we disallow overworking, comparing, silencing problems and start to talk more openly and in an accepting way.

As an employee, try not to hide what’s happening and if you aren’t sure what it is, start some dialogue about not feeling great. Get enough sleep, try to eat well, drink in moderation, be active, stay connected to people and try not to shut off. Try not to judge yourself. Ask for help. Although it can be really hard, it can change things dramatically.

In your experience, what are the main challenges within the creative industries in regards to mental health?

Creative industries have a challenge in terms of mental health in the area of creativity – the constant pressure to be at the forefront of change. To create ‘brilliant’ ideas, which have the focus on the output not the process, can negate the heart of creating, which is in purest form, for the process not the outcome.

Creative work is very reflective of the creator and can be and feel personal. But the nature of the industry means it is open to critics internally and externally, and this can have a negative effect on how people feel. But with those lows also come creative highs, which is why so many great people are in the industry.

What should employers be doing to help?

Employers should ensure policies are strong and echo a culture which supports mental health. Making sure this is happening in action not just on paper – in meetings, in the language used in communications – and has integrity.

Employers should also provide internal support workshops alongside one-to-one sessions with external experts. Pay for support where needed. Understand absences and pioneer open dialogue around it as opposed to ignoring absences or obvious mental health struggles. Create an environment where people can be their best selves at work.

What resources are there available for those who want to seek help?

We just launched Self Space, which is a contemporary approach to mental health support for people and companies in the industry, focused on every day mental maintenance.

Also, contact the Samaritans and the British Association of Psychotherapy.