We are Eija Pakkanen and Jo Ormós, the founders of Jolie Lounge & Cafe from Äkäslompolo. Jolie is a relaxed lounge cafe in Ylläs that we started in the middle of COVID crisis. We favor local seasonal ingredients and all our products are gluten free. All products are made in our own kitchen.
Before starting Jolie, both of us had been dreaming of having a restaurant for years. Finally, when we ended up working together on another project, we noticed that our ideas and vision of a restaurant go very well together. That is when everything fell into place and the idea of Jolie was born.
We are both moms of primary school aged children and definitely many other paths would have been easier than starting a restaurant in the middle of COVID crisis. Restaurant business is still very male-dominated and a few women run restaurants, often because of the family.
As a mom, the combo of running a restaurant and having a balanced family life is challenging, to say the least. That is why it is important to be gentle with yourself and ask for help if you need it. Sometimes you have to skip cleaning or doing laundry – and that’s perfectly fine!
We are both moms of primary school aged children and definitely many other paths would have been easier than starting a restaurant in the middle of COVID crisis.
Thus, the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur has been to understand the limits of your time and resources and balancing between entrepreneurship and family-life. COVID has brought a lot of uncertainty to the restaurant business and sometimes it has felt that the worth of the business is defined by the hours spent working. However, that is not a sustainable way of running a business. Now, we have learned to plan our work in a way that we have time for ourselves and for the family – so that our restaurant would have a future.
In the beginning of entrepreneurship, the most important thing is to believe in your vision and yourself. It is important to listen to others’ opinions too but you shouldn’t compromise too much just to please others. If you do, you risk losing the spirit and core of your idea. You need to stand behind your idea 100 percent.
If you start a business with your friend, it is crucial that you agree on the common rules for your partnership – the most important rule being don’t mix friendship and business. You need to be ready to support each other and have those uncomfortable discussions if something doesn’t feel right. You can do something great together, if you just support each other – just like in any relationship!
You need to stand behind your idea 100 percent.
The best part of being an entrepreneur is making your vision a reality, learning new things and the feeling of succeeding. When we started, we had a very clear vision of what kind of experience we wanted the customers to have when they visit the restaurant. Once we got the feedback that said exactly that, we knew that we’ve done something right.
Coping with COVID has taught us persistence and flexibility. We have learned that there is much we can’t control, things like quarantine guidelines and restaurant shutdowns. When you simply accept the things that you can’t control and learn how to let go, you can spend the extra energy and time to create something new or to take care of yourself. If we survive this, we’ll survive anything.