Review by Vega Ahmed
Note: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of RetoxMagazine.com
First time we came across the Viona Blu brand was in London at an event in London Olympia. We since had a soft spot for the brand simply because the designs are so gorgeous and the material so exciting.
Viona Blu makes a range of very chic handbags, purses and bracelets with fish leather being the key material. The products feel good and look good and the finish is of high quality, thus making it a perfect Christmas gift idea for someone special – someone who is modern and sophisticated.
The brand was set up at the beginning of 2012 by Finnish designer Sirpa Kalliola who is the creative and business mind behind Viona Blu. In the previous year we saw the Blu Honour Clutch as well as the jewellery collection established. This year we saw Viona Blu product range expand further.
It is easy to get smitten by Viona Blu’s gorgeous high quality accessories range, but where did the ideas come from, what inspired Sirpa Kalliola to create these items and what was the actual beginning? To satisfy our curiosity we caught up with Sirpa for a few juicy bits of info.
Viona Blu fish leather bracelets.
Retox: Let’s begin from the beginning, how did it all start?
Sirpa Kalliola: Viona Blu is my personal dream that became true. The thought of doing something on my own in fashion has been haunting me for years.
Workwise, I´ve gone from one extreme to another in the past. I have a background in fashion and in interior design, amongst other things – but I really feel like I´m at home now creating Viona Blu.
After seven years of being away I moved back to my hometown to do this so I´m back here where my roots are. I literally returned home to start up my own brand.
It´s such a risky thing to start your own brand and it requires huge sacrifices so for a long time it just didn´t make sense. But eventually it got to a point where I just had to do it and try. Once I got into it I decided to make everything as perfect as I could. I had a vision for a brand which I didn´t think existed yet.
The interesting thing in Viona Blu is that we use fish leather in everything we do - it´s the material that I think it´s just been forgotten. Fish leather is an amazing material to work on - ecological and sustainable. It is a long and carefully done process to make the leather ready for use – true craftsmanship.
I want to make our creations with honesty. Our purses and accessories are done by employing old fashioned craftsmanship. The materials are carefully selected and everything is made by hand. And I know exactly where the materials are coming from.
Retox: How did you come up with the name Viona Blu?
Sirpa Kalliola: Viona Blu is my alter-ego. When something seems frightening I always can think "no no.. it’s not me - it´s Viona Blu".
Viona Blu is the person for me who I admire, who has the sophistication and the class and the grace seen in the old movies. For me, Viona Blu is a true lady, a lady who lived hundred years ago. She is surrounded by mystery and yet her silent presence would make a great impact.
The name itself I saw in this old graveyard in South of France when we went on a great trip a couple of years ago. I really liked the name and in my mind I had great images of this person, so I started using that name.
Retox: How did you come up with the idea to use fish leather?
Sirpa Kalliola: I was looking for something different. Fish leather is sustainable, ecological and beautiful. The texture is very much the same as in a snake leather but we don´t harm the animal for the sake of the leather - the leather is a side product. To make the fish leather ready for our handbags takes about three weeks of craftsmanship. It is very precious. The idea, the texture, the feel and the look of the leather is simply beautiful.
Retox: The Viona Blu accessories were publicly shown for the first time early in 2012. How have things developed since, and what’s next?
Sirpa Kalliola: It has started really nicely – lots of work but also I feel I´ve been very lucky. Almost immediately this popular blogger in Finland wrote about Viona Blu Clutch and that really changed everything. Retailers, magazines and other bloggers got interested after that. Last year our First Lady of Finland was seen wearing our clutch. That was really an honour. My future goal is to become more of an international brand. I am hoping people in Europe will also fall in love with Viona Blu.
Viona Blu fish leather bracelets.