9th of May, 2019
Hearings from Finland!
My name is Jenni Ahtiainen. I've been working as an accessory designer for my own accessory brand called gTIE which I established 11 years ago. I've been designing bags, bracelets, jewellery and neckwear to people like Marilyn Manson, Snoop Dogg and even Bono has one of my scarfs. Until - by a personal accident - I managed to design something so simple but mind-blowing I believe I can change a bit of the world with.
A year ago I went to see a doctor because my hearing was getting worse. Communication as well as making conversations was getting almost impossible. Doctor told me I needed to have hearing aids for both of my ears.
First reaction was a shock: I was going to be attached to hearing devices for the rest of my life and would not survive without them. Then I started to cry about it to my drummer friend Alina, who laughed and told me "but hey, you're not the only one" - she is half-deaf too. I just didn't know that.
I started to rationalise my shock reaction. Why was I in shock. If you have a bad eyesight, you can choose eyeglasses suiting for your own style, no matter if you're a woman, man, child, rocker, hipster or goth. But if you have a bad hearing, you are stuck with the ugly looking machines for the rest of your life.
You can't even find a beautiful picture of hard on hearing people in any lifestyle, fashion or beauty magazine. Apparently, these industries don't find hard of hearing people beautiful enough to be published.
So, in the beginning of August I got my hearing aids and put the shit behind my ears and started to think. Because I'm a designer, it was natural for me to tune them up "a bit". First I made a small leather holster around the hearing aids, and then I hung some leather stripes to the holster. Suddenly, they felt more like mine. They looked like me. I looked like me.
I took a picture of this new innovation of mine. I posted it on FB and told my customers what had happened to me and my hearing. I went to sauna with my family and once I got back, weird things were happening in the Internet. My post was spreading like hell amongst hard of hearing people. In very short time it had 220 000 views. Next week Finland's hearing association contacted me, the media was all around asking questions and the first hearing aid manufacturer contacted me as well. I had become the embodiment and ambassador of hearing disorders. Deafmetal was born, naturally and suddenly, by the own hands of hard of hearing designer.
Only after two months Deafmetal was born, it won "the 2018 new product price" in the biggest handicraft trade show in Europe. At the age of 8 months, it won the Creative Business Cup in Finland and is heading now to Copenhagen to compete with rest of the world in the CBC 2019.
We are building up an #deafmetalcommunity to decrease embarrassment and shame experienced by many users of hearing aids. In 2014 Susanne Jacobsen from Aalto University proved that tuning up your life-depending devices or instruments, you can reduce the stigma of how disabled person sees her/himself. Hearing aid stigma is one of the major problems Deafmetal solves for many people.
After working many years in fashion industry, after having my accessories in the Golden Globes, Oscars, Bambi Awards and on the stage of some HC bands and artists alive, I have never felt so important as a designer that I do now. For the first time I feel my designs actually have a deeper meaning, the work I do for hard of hearing people is not just superficial. It has a deeper function: Help.
Just a bit about the name, Deafmetal. When I was making the first IG-post, I was trying to think a right hashtag to describe my innovation. Deafmetal came to my head like a light. It refers to metal as a silent material around the hearing aid. Deaf metal… silent material. Also the word Deafmetal suits funnily enough to my personal image as a designer. I totally look like "deafmetal".
I want to thank you and my team!
Designer, Artist, Executive force & Motor Head
Tämän verkkokaupan pääkieli on englanti. Jos sinulla on mitä tahansa kysyttävää suomeksi, autamme mielellämme sähköpostitse firstname.lastname@example.org
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