In the early 1990s, the former entrepreneur, economist Ismo Salo, published an advertisement in several foreign economic magazines seeking a business idea. The entrepreneur who sold his large cleaning business had had enough of the holidays, and it was time to come up with a new thing.
The English confectionery manufacturer offered its products for resale. The sweets were processed in the Salo’s personal business incubator into chocolate, which was a great favorite of him and his wife Leila Salo. They went to Belgium to learn. A week’s course was enough to convince them that they were on the right track.
So they rented a plot of land in Iittala near the glass factory and started building a chocolate factory. In the great recession year of 1991, the opening of the factory and shop were held with self-made chocolates. In the first year, 120,000 visitors visited behind the glass wall of the chocolate shop and saw the chocolate factory in production. From the very beginning, Kultasuklaa store has had a wall-sized window so that people can follow the production of chocolate while visiting Iittala.
The Salos piloted the Kultasuklaa for more than a decade until it was time to really retire. The new owner couple Tapani Korpi and Arja Vekuna-Korpi received the factory’s, of course, chocolate keys in 2001.
It was easy for them to jump into the world of chocolate making, for they had had a long career in the food industry. Like the founding entrepreneur, they sought to learn from the origins of chocolate making in Belgium and Switzerland. Summer has been an important season for Kultasuklaa from the beginning. In the meantime, in addition to Christmas chocolates, the focus has been on serving corporate customers with various corporate products. An important sales product was chocolates covered with the company logo ordering the delicacies.
Tapani Korpi’s innovation was to start selling chocolate bars in bulk in delicatessens and some supermarkets. After a fifteen-year entrepreneurial career, Korpi and Vekana-Korpi decided to look for a successor for Kultasuklaa, who would not only have passion for entrepreneurship but also an innovative approach to making.
Long-term friends Juha-Pekka Kärkkäinen and Juri Kaskela promised to cherish the values of the family business at Kultasuklaa, however, with the requiered innovative approach. The story of current entrepreneurs as pilots of Kultasuklaa began in June 2017.
By Christmas of the same year, Finland’s first cricket chocolate was made in Iittala at Kultasuklaa. The circadian boom subsided quickly, but already the following year, Kultasuklaa was the first to bring pink ruby chocolate to Finland.
In September 2020, Kultasuklaa merged with its partner Arctic Forest Food. The new company was renamed Arctic Kultasuklaa. The new company utilizes the strengths of the parties – handmade Finnish chocolate and Arctic ingredients and flavors. Arctic Forest Foods, which operates in the mountain landscapes of Levi, had already before the merge coated their snack bars at Kultasuklaa.
From the beginning, the core idea of Kultasuklaa has been to offer chocolate to Finnish tastes and dare to come up with new flavors, shapes and chocolate products that no one has made before. This is still true.
The strengths of the Kultasuklaa also in the future are professionalism, uncompromisingness and the courage to go towards something new. These values will also be piloted in the 30th anniversary year by the current owners of Kultasuklaa, Juha-Pekka Kärkkäinen and Juri Kaskela.
“Iittala Village is an important part of the essence of Kultasuklaa, the company’s history and future. The cradle of handicrafts is an important and natural place for us when it comes to an artisan chocolate maker like us. ”