(English translation of Riistinalainen article by Elina Alanne, 11.03.21)
Designer Milla Niskakoski launches her own cosmetics brand
- In a way, this whole project is a return to my teenage dreams, thinks designer Milla Niskakoski, 32. In March, she will open a crowdfunding campaign to launch the first products of her own Kaamos Cosmetics brand, face masks with corpse paint.
As a high school student, Niskakoski became interested in metal music. Even so much that for a while her dream was to be an artist myself. - I played guitar but eventually conceded that I was not gifted enough for that, and it was better to just keep music as a hobby.
Later, Niskakoski studied design and her studies took her to South Korea. Her stay in Korea stretched to about ten years, after which she moved back to Finland.
Niskakoski sees a clear continuum in the fact that she is starting her own cosmetics series. One step is the interest in metal music and the related product offering. As a designer, Niskakoski thinks that metal-inspired goods could be made a lot better than they are today. It has great potential, because metal music is one of Finland's big exports. - I would also like to combine metal music and Finnish sauna culture and have many product ideas for future items.
The second step towards just such a series of cosmetics, is the theatricality that is already in the background. - During college times back in Finland, my dream was to design and make accessories and sets for films. I was at the theater one summer doing stage design.
When I left for Korea, my theatrical dreams were left behind. Abroad, my identity as a Finnish designer grew and I embraced the Scandinavian minimalist design language. One could say that my style changed from theatrical to extremely minimalist as my master’s studies progressed. In the end, however, it felt natural to restore a bit of edge to my work, and this mask project again has a real dose of theatricality.
The third and perhaps most significant step is Korea, and the fact that skin care is very popular there. - There I became interested in skin care myself. In addition to the basic white fabric masks, there are various funny masks, like cats or pandas. Naturally, it occurred to me that the print could be almost anything, and after all corpse paint make-up belongs on the face.
The patterns on the face masks have been designed in collaboration with a friend, cartoonist JP Ahonen. Niskakoski designed the exact shape and cutout of the mask. She also tested and searched for the most suitable among dozens of mask manufacturers.
- The masks are made in Korea, at least in the beginning. Basically, I wanted the ingredients in the masks to be organic, as well as vegan-friendly. I've tried probably a hundred different kinds masks in Korea during my time there, so I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted from the masks. All the ingredients have therefore been carefully selected.
Niskakoski has also started studying natural cosmetics. - I want to thoroughly understand and design new brand cosmetics, not just the packaging and labels.
One step on the way to the cosmetics series was also the soaps made by Niskakoski as a hobby, in the image of iconic metal musicians. - That project got out of hand and I started doing collaborations with big names. Even Metal Hammer wrote a story about my soaps.
Niskakoski thinks that his entire cosmetics series, but especially the face mask, is meant to be a holistic experience. - This is a fun product even for bachelor parties. And one that’s fun to take a picture of and share it with friends. In Instagram, masks have already aroused interest. One of Niskakoski's goals is that masks could also be made for bands as fan products. - I have already received messages from a few bands, Niskakoski shares.
Benefits of crowdfunding
The products are corpse paint mask packs. Crowdfunding is a low-risk way to test the marketability of an idea. - The minimum order for masks is around 20,000. Sure, I could take a loan for that amount, but if it turns out nobody wants to buy them, I'd be screwed.
The backers buy the product in advance with a small discount, and then wait to for the product to be produced.
Niskakoski says that, for example, certain tests and registrations of a cosmetic product required by the EU still need to be done. - I have six years of experience producing various products from big and small manufacturers, so I know that as long as the financing is secured, I will be able to do all this.
She thinks orders can most likely be shipped to customers by the end of summer. - We did four different crowdfunding projects in Korea, and they were all successful and good experiences. Crowd funding is a great way to introduce a product and gather reactions. If there aren’t enough orders, then it shows that this wasn’t such a good idea and then it’s better to focus on some other project.