She is the Finnish lady who competed in figure skating as young and advised international companies to get listed on stock exchange when she got older – but now, she's one of the founders of Astrid Wild. How did this happen, and what shaped her path? Keep reading to dig deeper into Jemina Pomoell's journey!
How did you grow up and in what way has that impacted your choices and acts later in life?
I grew up in a very typical suburb in the Helsinki capital area in Finland, with my parents and an older brother, two older sisters already living on their own since I was little. My everyday life was a combination of school and figure skating. Vacations were spent sailing on the Baltic sea or skiing in Åre (so not that much has changed since then).
My father had a long career as a hockey referee, which is most likely the reason I started ice skating training at a very young age. It very quickly led to figure skating becoming my hobby of choice and a massive part of my life for the next 15 years. I started competing at the age of eight and practiced six days a week, which meant that much of the extra time after school was spent at the ice rink. Looking back at it now, figure skating has had a monumental impact on my life and how I view it.
I would summarize the impact of my skating career into one word - which I actually learned only when entering the startup world a couple of years ago - and that is ‘grit’. In figure skating, like in any competitive sport, you constantly put yourself out there, alone in front of an audience, sometimes to succeed but many to fail. And when learning a new trick, you spend months doing hundreds of repetitions, falling flat on your bum over and over, until one day you get it right. So ever since I was little, I learned how it feels like to fail, but most importantly to never give up. Those are quite handy traits also for a starting entrepreneur.
What were you doing before you went on a journey creating outdoor clothing for female shapes?
Before Astrid Wild, I spent nearly 10 years working in investment banking, advising companies and their owners in their strategic projects. Some of the most fun but at times also toughest years - ‘Work hard play hard’ is a good way to summarize those times. But throughout those years, the dream of one day starting a company of my own kept growing. Until one day, I realized that in order to make that dream come true, I needed to take the plunge. I left my career with the sole purpose of starting a company of my own. At that point, not knowing what to do or with who. I spent the next 6 months traveling around the world looking for inspiration.
How come you started Astrid Wild?
As part of my quest for entrepreneurship, I got accepted into a startup program by an early stage VC, Antler - a program bringing driven individuals together to form great teams and develop successful business ideas. On the first day, I met Maria, a curly-haired lady who told me she had an idea, born out of her own frustration of not finding anything in the outdoor clothing offering that inspired her, or that seemed to be specifically designed for women. I instantly understood what she was talking about, and after knowing her for hardly a week, we decided to team up and start building a company that was quickly named Astrid Wild. The craziest and at the same time one of the best decisions of my life.
What does nature mean to you, and how has that relationship changed over the years?
Skiing and sailing have been a big part of my life ever since I was little. I’ve spent my winter vacations in Åre ever since I was a toddler (and the place will forever be my second home), and summer vacations on a sailboat. Hence, nature has always been very present in my life. But how I view it has definitely changed over the years. When I was younger it was more about what I was doing in nature, what opportunities for activities it provided me. Now, I notice I enjoy it for just being. Small things, like fall colors on trees or the sound of waves on a summer evening can just take your breath away.
What is outdoors for you?
Outdoors is something that simultaneously calms you down and gives you energy. You can spend four days hiking in Lapland immersing yourself in solitude and quiet and come back feeling like a changed person ready to take on the world. Nature also provides endless beauty and wonder, no matter if you are looking at snowy mountains in the alps or sandy beaches in Australia or walking in the nearby park in Stockholm at sunset.
Outdoors should not be hard to reach for all of us, it shouldn’t be a stretch or a hurdle to get out and enjoy nature. For instance, for me, just walking gives me so much joy. I love to walk everywhere, and enjoying a weekend stroll in a nearby park is my favorite weekend activity. Something that we want to achieve with Astrid Wild, is to provide concrete tips and instructions on how to reach outdoors, what different things you can do and how to prepare.
What is the best vs most difficult thing building a new outdoor clothing brand?
Best is easy, our customers! It’s hard to describe the amount of joy every time we receive positive feedback or product review from a customer. And every time someone takes the time to write to us how happy they are that we exist, it really amazes me. Those times you also get confirmation that there really is a problem and a gap in the market, it wasn’t just us thinking that.
But there are of course many challenges as well, like with any business. Rarely things go exactly as planned, and you could say that you need problem solving skills every single day. But it helps when you can change your mindset from looking at problems as an absolute negative, but rather as challenges to solve. The most difficult moments are when the challenges somehow directly impact customer satisfaction. We really thrive to have happy customers, so when something goes wrong, it really hurts my heart.
What are your hopes and dreams with Astrid Wild?
I have big dreams for Astrid Wild. We are on a mission to inspire more women worldwide to enjoy nature on an everyday basis. So we are not even close to being ready, there’s so much to do with different products, sizes, fits. We’ve only gotten started. But what I would hope is that we would always be able to maintain the closeness to and feeling of community with our followers and customers. That’s what Astrid Wild is all about.