Innovations for the future
Text & Photo Katja Lösönen
Lapuan Kankurit weaving mill is going through times of constant change. Over the past ten years, the weaving facilities have expanded thrice and the equipment has been modernised. Currently, a new wool production line is underway. According to fourth generation weaver Esko Hjelt, investments and sustainable product development are the success factors of their business.
Apart from his practical weaving skills, Esko Hjelt has also studied the theory of textile technique at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. “I finished school and took over the business during the worst recession in the 1990s.We mastered the jacquard technique, but to survive we needed new concepts and perspectives on the weaving industry.We have been developing the business ever since,” says Hjelt. “In the beginning of 2000 we also developed designer cooperations, taking the brand of Lapuan Kankurit to the next level.” Esko Hjelt specialises in material bound product development, where new product innovations come from the raw materials. The felted wool blanket quality, created by Esko and also used in the Corona blanket, won innovation and design awards in the 2010s. Also our absorbant linen-tencel blend is globally wellknown. “The reweaving of the Dora Jung collection and the use of washed linen demanded new technical equipment and knowhow. The last few decades we have focused on developing our industrial processes and building new production lines.” Hjelt thinks that continuous product development based on sustainability is the only way to create a profitable business. “Strong product development and the investments have helped us even through troubled times. The challenges have taught us that continuous development and lifelong learning are crucial for business vitality.” Development keeps Lapuan Kankurit busy also over the next few years with the new wool production line. “This investment ensures that the whole production process from collecting the wool fibres from Finnish sheep to the finished products remains in our hands. Only by keeping production in our own factories can we make sure that it’s genuinely sustainable.” Esko Hjelt often thinks about what sustainability means to Lapuan Kankurit. “Our operations go beyond a polished surface and certificates, making the production and selection of raw materials transparent. This is where the most significant sustainability choices are made.”