Hi, I’m Heidi Jokela! I’m the energetic entrepreneur of Polar Star Travel, Polar Meetings and Lapland nature experience. In addition, I am a mom of a “bonus-extended family” and a “Nonna” (meaning Granny) t three little princesses. I am the beating heart of our companies and of our home.
In this blog, I want to open a window of my life to you, share moments in the arctic nature of Lapland, open up my daily life as a mother of a big family, and as a female entrepreneur of a family business. I want to show you how I have adapted to living in Lapland after a long life as a career woman, and tell about my search for a healthy and natural lifestyle.
The loves of my life are my five sons, one daughter and the three sweet Nonna´s (grandma’s) sweethearts, my husband and business partner Juha and the fells of Lapland. I wouldn’t trade any of these out. Every morning brings something new, and what ever it is, nature always delights me.
From Helsinki to Europe and back
I come from Helsinki, but before moving to Lapland I lived in Europe for 18 years: Italy, Russia, Portugal and the UK. I studied languages at the University of Rome, after which I worked in marketing and sales positions in the tourism industry in Europe, mainly in Italy.
Lapland’s wonderful opportunities as a “mecca” for tourism opened up for me when I was working in Italy for the Restel hotel chain, the Finnish Tourist Board and Finnair.
I returned to Finland in December 2004. However, the dark and slushy winter in Helsinki did not feel like my own and I applied for a job in the legendary Hotel Pohjanhovi in Rovaniemi. I spent a year in Rovaniemi, during which I got to know the Arctic nature of Lapland and the professionals of the tourism industry.
To the Arctic Circle and above
From Rovaniemi, my road led to Levi, where I led a project aimed at developing Levi’s snow-free seasons. When I arrived in Levi, I felt that I wanted to grow roots in this samll fell village. The fell scenery and the incredibly fine eight seasons enchanted me. I met my husband, a local man, Juha Jokela and that was it.
I became the mother of a large family as along with Juha I also got three bonus sons and a daughter. In 2007, our family grew up with twin boys and my husband and I started our company and started to work in travel business – and that’s what we have been up to since then.
The peak years have been going on for 15 years; we have run an entrepreneurial family with children, moved a log frame of a house from South Ostrobothnia to Lapland and built a traditional log house for our family. It is a real 100 % eco-house! We have also set up two companies and lived with lots of strong emotions, close to nature, as it has always been traditionally done in Lapland.
Rooted in the fell
Love of Lapland’s nature, fells, unique local culture and wonderful local people have made me grow roots in Levi. Here the light is special every moment: in the blue moments of kaamos (polar night when the sun stays under the horizont), on bright spring days, in the sunlight of a nightless night, and on the darkening evenings of autumn with the northern lights.
The variation of the seasons is indeed noticeable. I love the real atmosphere of Lapland and the fact that everyone here can be themselves. During the high season, people work long days, but as spring progresses you can sit on top of the fell and admire the continuous fell landscape on the horizon.
Arctic nature is not exotic to the locals, but an important part of everyday life. Children ski or use a kick sled to go to school. When berry picking in the forest, you can grab drinking water from a spring. Here you collect berries, mushrooms and herbs for yourself. We get reindeer meat from local reindeer herders and venison is used in almost every family.
Here “Lapland Madness” works every day! A unique network is formed by locals and those who have arrived from Southern Finland (or around the world). This network makes it great to be an entrepreneus and develop Levi together. Levi has always had strong personalities. Here the “crazy” ideas have been believed in, and those ideas have grown to be Levi’s strengths.