Tag: markus karjalainen
Markus Karjalainen Introduction
Markus Karjalainen is the Art Director of Four Sigma Foods. He’s the team’s Chief Hipster and anti-trend spokesperson. In May 2012 Markus left behind the narrow streets of Paris and half-timber houses, packed his camera bag and headed East. Since then he has visited the picturesque mountains of Huangshan, explored Shanghai’s modern skyline, and got an overdose of avocados in Da Lat, Vietnam. At the moment he’s getting inspirations from Seoul’s flourishing creative community. In this profile you will learn more about the background of this young entrepreneur and his passion for sustainability.
Markus spent his childhood in a small city of Nokia in Finland (Yes. The origin of the barely surviving cell phone manufacturer). After figuring out that he would never become a full-time extreme junkie himself, he began photographing. How did you got interested in photography?
During that time I was really into skateboarding and snowboarding. Although, I was persistently practicing them, soon I figured out that they wouldn’t be the things I would be remembered from. Since all the best tricks were needed to be captured, photographing plays a big role in that “ecosystem”. So, I thought photographing would be my way of contributing. In summer 2002, I worked for a local festival, Tapsan Tahdit, and finally had enough savings to purchase my first DSLR Camera. In that year I had my Christmas twice.
Step by step, I developed better skills and started to understand the significance of light. Fast forward to the year 2006, I spent half of my mandatory military service as photographer for the military newspaper, Ruotuväki. I loved it. Not only because of photographing, but because it was an exclusive access to explore everything in military. Luxury for a curious mind like mine.
Can you name one highlight of your photography career?
That’s an easy one. For several years I had admired documentary photographers, capturing a comprehensive, real life reportages. Finally I got mine. The project Road Dream, a team of four Finns (including FSF’s co-founder Mika) cycled from Finland to the birthplace of sports, Greece’s Olympia. My role was to document six weeks of sweat, tears and the trial of team chemistry. Our traveling pace (120km/day) turned out to be the biggest challenge by creating loads of a mental and physical pressure. Our group was like a cycling time bomb. Secretly, I was waiting for an explosion, since it would have guaranteed a juicy story. And yes, I finally got it.
Besides experiencing mental breakdowns and military action behind his lens, Markus studied entrepreneurship in a business school in Finland. During the past 3 years you haven’t stayed much in Finland. How did you end up moving abroad?
It always comes back to photography, which has been my gateway to opportunities. It has kept me active and well connected. In 2010 I had a privilege to work with a talented Dutch video artist and the professor of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Mieke Bal. It was my first time working with an international team. All that beauty of the cultural diversity gave me vibes that I hadn’t felt before. Without hesitation, I decided to apply for an exchange program in Paris.
After your exchange program you decided to stay a bit longer in France, right?
During the exchange program, I met an exceptional professor and business mentor, who persuaded me to apply for an open position in a management consultancy. I flew back, met the founding partners and had literally an awful interview, I’ve never stressed so much, but I was still hired on the spot. A lesson learned – there’s no need to over-analyze.
“Every now and then, saying “What the Fuck”, brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.” – Risky Business (1983)
Just to sum it up, within the last 1,5 years, I worked with clients and in locations that most people can only dream about. Everything from conferences in Brazil to development work for Hermes. Our organization encouraged creativeness and consisted of many sincere individuals. The latter made it such a great experience it’s even hard to put it into words.
Awareness, awareness, awareness
Nutrition wasn’t playing a vital role for Markus, until he found his body and especially digestive tract was constantly malfunctioning. That uncertainty made the everyday life more difficult to cope with. The most challenging issue was to live without understanding the actual cause behind the symptoms. How things started?
Like most turning points in my life, it started from a problem created unconsciously over the cause of many years. At college I was a heavy consumer of supplements, like protein powders. Like all teenagers, I wanted to be in shape no matter what it takes. While doing so I was actually digging my own hole. My stomach couldn’t process all of those synthetic supplements and I was also constantly overeating. So instead of getting the benefits out of training, I was sick all the time. I visited doctors, without getting any comprehensive nutritional advices. I returned home with more pills and weird powders. That’s when I started to realize that only removing symptoms is an infinite road that will lead nowhere. The actual cause needs to be pinpointed.
Well you have overcome those problems by now. What was the turning point that made everything better?
Frankly there’s one persistence flatmate to thank for. I met Tero, FSF’s Chairman of Board, in Paris in 2010. We started from scratch by wiping out most of the existing nutritional beliefs, ending up concentrating on the quality and the origin of the foods. Probably the biggest game changer was to cut out all wheat products. In 6 months I lost 10 kilos (mostly because of detoxification), and I was only sick once plus I got rid off that dooming digestive limbo.
Though, that was just the surface. I discovered that real, nutrient dense foods are the best source energy. As we all know, we only have that much energy, which needs to be well allocated and managed. So with a proper fuel, my ability to get things done with better focus, was increasing. Days without the previous typical roller coaster like energy drops became the secret to my new super productivity.
How did you get yourself into superfoods then?
First and foremost, the most essential step is to fix the base of your diet. Period. Which in my case meant literally opening my eyes and realizing what I was doing. When seeking the most nutrient dense foods, you’ll easily stumble upon superfoods. The same happened to me. Though, all that marketing bullsh*t activated my skepticism and forced me to deep dive and trust only on my personal experiences. My early experiences with raw cacao products, maca and chia seeds, turned out to be more than I expected. Nowadays these power foods are a significant part of my diet and I’m constantly adding new things.
More appealing products and cooperation
Markus has recently left his job in Paris to become a full time employee of FSF. What made you decide to leave your comfortable career in France and fully commit to FSF?
Firstly the main reason to commit to FSF, was the determined team behind it. I knew that this team can constantly push ideas to fruition, which I love the most. Secondly, creativity and business are two things that inspire me a lot, and I saw FSF as an intersection of those two. It was also important to know that our shared mission of democratizing superfoods was something I also found meaningful.
In health food biz there’s also several things, which can be done differently. Visually speaking we really need to make these superior products more appealing for the everyday consumer. Most of these foods deserve much more attention, but the way how they are currently displayed is so repulsive to a visual person that there’s not much to relate to. There’s my own little battle!
Another thing that really strikes me odd is the prevailing mindset around health food biz. Although, most of the companies share similar ambitions, cooperation doesn’t exist so much. Big changes will seldom occur in short-times. Some battles are very long and takes both time and persistence. Instead of being driven by competition, in a short term I hope seeing more signs of collaboration towards greater cause.
Markus will be on the road until April 2013. His journey consists of two elements: an active working life and monthly varying locations. What are your goals of your trips and what can FSF blog readers expect from you?
First of all, I’m trying to travel without any expectations. It’s tricky, but keeps my mind open. I also want to meet active thinkers and doers, and, needless to say, to immerse myself to the best foods of the East. Out of these experiences, I’ll produce videos for our followers. The first video made from China can be found here .
Lastly, I’ll make one more comment. The people I’ve already seen along my journey don’t have the latest tech gadgets and promising career plans, yet still, in some unrealistic way, they seem to keep up smiling. There’s always an another way of living our lives, which I also want to discover.