From a sole trader to a limited liability company – that’s the path that Anni Vento from Joensuu is currently progressing along. In autumn 2022, Vento participated in Business Joensuu’s start-up...
Is this it? A couple of years ago when Henna-Mari Luolamo posed herself this frustrated question, she was going through what she describes as some sort of a crisis. Working as a singing teacher and vocal coach at a university was nice but it felt like something was missing. Then Covid-19 hit and suddenly everything fell into place.
"Lovely soprano brings spring to Kasino”, declared the newspaper Itä-Savo when soprano Henna-Mari Luolamo and Savonlinna quartet were preparing for their spring concert in Savonlinna in 2017. Luolamo had started work as a university teacher at the University of Eastern Finland in the Savonlinna campus in 2012. When teacher education was centralised in Joensuu in 2018, travelling between Savonlinna and Joensuu stopped. Teaching continued in Joensuu.
- Over time, she started feeling that she needed a break. I got a feeling that my competence was not being holistically utilised. I had a routine, in a bad sense, reminisces Luolamo.
Luolamo graduated with a degree in Music Education at the University of Applied Sciences of Turku and a Master’s degree in opera at the Banská Bystrica art academy in Slovakia. Her artistic career has taken her both to Finnish and foreign stages. Then the Covid pandemic hit like a tidal wave. Work as a freelance singer stopped. Surprisingly, the pandemic led her to new, better things.
The best decision
Yoga, core, jogging, intensive training. Diverse forms of exercise have always been a part of Henna-Mari Luolamo’s life. She holds her own classes at the adult education centre in Joensuu and praises the classes by the top experts in Liikuntakeskus Kuntokikka.
At the peak of the pandemic, Luolamo’s interest in health and well-being only further increased. What happened then was meant to be.
- I noticed that Riveria was offering training for wellness coaches. That was it - a moment to breathe and one of the best decisions of my life to join!
Luolamo’s lively speech and expressive choices of words show how completely enchanted she became with the studies.
- I realised that my mindset - the baseline for thinking - had been badly blocked. What a lovely feeling it was when my creativity started to bloom during the wellness coach training. I felt completely new thoughts and ideas start to flow. I decided to get everything out of the year of studies!
A practical placement, which was a part of the studies, could be done at a fitness centre, among other places. The aim was to practice customer work in the sports and wellness industry or get a feel for entrepreneurship. Luolamo chose the entrepreneur’s path.
- My study friend Soila Palviainen had been an entrepreneur for a long time. She supported me a lot and acted as a business mentor throughout my studies and even after. Special thanks to her!
What is this Business Joensuu thing?
Riveria’s entrepreneurship training was planted in fertile soil. It was through Riveria that Luolamo was advised to contact Business Joensuu. She didn’t know the organisation before that at all.
- Well, the organisation was not actively on my mind. I also could not have imagined that Business Joensuu might offer wisdom and support for starting entrepreneurs for free!
In Business Joensuu’s start-up coaching, Luolamo’s entrepreneurial self continued to strengthen as her mind absorbed it all. Meeting other start-up entrepreneurs was a rewarding experience. She had a lot of questions but there were also a lot of answers.
- I started to worry that I would not be able to continue teaching at the university if I became an entrepreneur. Oh no - where do I go from here! But of course the coaching helped solve these problems, too. Entrepreneurship is possible as a side gig alongside teaching. The university immediately agreed to let me keep teaching with 50 per cent of my previous hours.
VoiceFit in your service!
Even the pandemic cloud has a shiny, silver lining now. With the help of Business Joensuu’s business coach Satu Niiranen, Luolamo’s company VoiceFit Oy was launched in 2022. VoiceFit’s genius business idea combines voice use with well-being as a service for company and private customers. The health and functionality of the voice are basic requirements for people working with their voices. When the technique of voice use is in order, things like background noise or long speeches cannot damage the talking worker’s most important instrument.
- It has already become clear that there is demand for the coaching - many people suffer from issues with their voices. Many kinds of jobs require a lot of speaking: teaching, performing, telemarketing, presenting business people. The target group is extensive.
In the voice use coaching by VoiceFit, the issue is approached holistically with attention paid from posture to breathing and speaking techniques and from articulation and voice expression to getting over stage fright.
VoiceFit also offers wellness coaching both for private and company customers. Henna-Mari Luolamo leads clients towards wellness through small changes. The offering includes everything needed for a good everyday life: nutrition, rest and exercise, stress management and good sleep.
- Even though being an artist is a big part of me, I have a teacher’s nature. Helping people and guiding them with voice use and wellness are my passions. Age and experience are my strengths - however, I cannot emphasise it enough how important it is to learn new things. A new beginning and different perspective also gave rise to my business idea. Out of other Business Joensuu’s offerings, I have already thought about participating in the digital skill coaching.
“I could not have imagined that Business Joensuu might offer wisdom and support for starting entrepreneurs for free!”
Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä Ässä Oy
Photo: Jarno Artika