A family affair

Fresh from university, a 28-year-old Larissa Immonen reached out and grabbed the torch from her parents to become the CEO of Finarte in 2016. It is not only the entrepreneurial spirit that ties the family together — love for beauty and India keeps the cosmopolitan family and Finarte going strong.

In my world, I’m an old CEO!” Larissa says smiling, when she looks back at the Finarte story. Together, her parents Eija Rasinmäki and Erkki Immonen are an entrepreneurial force to be reckoned with. They started their own companies in their early 20s, Erkki in his field of work as a certified public accountant, and Eija as a creative whirlwind in textile design. Their eagerness and bravery eventually brought the two together, both romantically and professionally, and their two separate interests gave birth to Finarte in 1985. 38 years down the line, their family business stands firmly as the leading design house for Finnish rugs with their youngest daughter Larissa at the helm.

”I’ve had two great business role models to study growing up. My dad is the pragmatic one. Precise, punctual, and by the book. Mom on the other hand is the artiste of the company, a bit more relaxed and easy-going. I’m very lucky to have inherited both their traits, from a business perspective. I think too much of either one wouldn’t work for Finarte, or any other company for that matter.”

You’ve followed your parents’ business endeavours from the inside. What have you learned?

”I’ve learnt so much from them separately, but as a combined force it’s their bravery. They have always been ready to change things up to evolve. When I look back at the history of Finarte, I’m in awe of how they just went to Portugal, started a factory and a life there, and then moved on to India which back then had no industrial infrastructure to think of! I think that evolving and bold mindset has stuck with me.”

Despite their combined entrepreneurial force, Eija and Erkki were missing a final piece to make Finarte whole as the company entered the 1990s. After trying their luck in the textile town of Porto in Portugal, they knew that they couldn’t turn back to Finland to find the perfect weaving mill to match their ambition of scale and quality. Eija and Erkki eventually took a shot at Sitapur,
India, in 1991. A move that came to change the Finarte trajectory forever.

What is the importance of India to Finarte?

”It’s an integral part of our company. We’ve exchanged weaving wisdom with people for generations in India, and we’re proud to call them our friends before business partners. It’s now been over three decades, and just like our friends at the factory have seen me take up where my parents left off, a second generation of weaving artisans have taken over parallel to me”, Larissa says grinning from ear to ear, before adding:

”One weaver at the factory grew so close to my mom that he named her daughter after me!”

On top of the biannual visits to India for business, both mother Eija and daughter Larissa have lived there for different periods of time. During her full year at an Indian high school, Larissa picked up enough Hindi and cultural cues to gain life-long friendships — and recognition as a businesswoman. There’s mutual respect and understanding between the Finarte team and their Indian suppliers that only grows with time.

”I think other Western companies go there and kind of point fingers without understanding the infrastructure and social structures. Some might want to get more Indian women involved, which is a nice thought obviously, but it’s easier said than done. We know that there is no daycare system in India, and that it can be unsafe for women to travel to and from the factories. We know and care for these people, and we can understand their reality.”

And the Indian connection also spills over to the Finarte rug designs. When Larissa brought the company’s head of design Marianne Huotari to India in 2022, Huotari instantly grasped Finarte’s design language better than a million mood boards ever could. One day, Larissa hopes to bring the whole Finarte team to India to get the already close-knit colleagues further connected to the

”Everyone gets to have their say in all parts of the company. When we present new designs, the logistics, sales, customer service, and showroom employees are welcome to share their design inputs. I really hope to get the whole crew out to India eventually, I know that they will understand the whole process better.”

Perhaps, a trip like that will make the Finarte team understand their CEO better too. Larissa concludes:

”I don’t know if my creativity and relaxed nature comes from mom, or from India. That place is an integral part of me as well.”