It was like having that ‘we are ready to fight’ spirit, we were going to give it everything we’ve got. Which was not much.
On that first day of operation, 23rd November 2012, we had 2 groups of customers for Pikkujoulu. One was in Kellari room, the other was in Inno room. Half of HUONE was not ready. We fought, argued, reasoned with the constructor but they didn’t relate to our sense urgency to have HUONE ready on time. They came to work, and then they went, at their own pace. No extra men, no extra shifts. Jussi and I were fixing anything we could every night until our back couldn’t take it anymore. I still vividly remember that feeling and the fatigue I was in.
It was a mess when we had to ‘creatively’ conceal the construction part of HUONE so that the customers won’t see. Nail guns, curtains, tapes, hand-written signs…you name it. Customers came in and noticed the ‘unfinishness’ of the space. Despite our best efforts, one customer became so upset with us that next thing you know, she was already giving a loud lesson to us on how things should have been done… Another group simultaneously ran out of food. Our catering partner prepared delicious food but not with a handsome size. Customers who came hungry like wolves to a pikkujouluparty were left hungry and we eventually had to order Kotipizza for the rescue. I feel still ashamed of that.
After that very day, it has consistently been a long uphill battle with the construction, over-budget renovation, debts, pregnancy, the whole personnel leaving, bankruptcy cases and many more tears and sorrow. I’m not proud of any of these, but I realized we had to learn from every phase of our start-up journey. The hard way of being a ‘yrittäjä’ (entrepreneur).
It wasn’t all bad, there was small happiness in there that kept us going and believing: when our customers are happy and returned, Jussi and I celebrated every sale we made, when we paid off the construction bills when we made our first 1M€ sales…
It is a heavy-hearted walk down the memory lane, remembering how desperate we were at times. It is when I really appreciate all the hope and help people around us has given us. We have had more than 50 employees who have worked for HUONE at some point, countless friends and family members lending a hand and asking nothing in return.
Today, we are almost 30 employees strong, expanded to Singapore, won almost 10 awards and recognition and currently in plans to expand 10 more units in the next 2 years. We are very grateful, to say the least. None of this would be possible without all of you who have not given up on us. We are a passionate bunch who dream big and believe in HUONE. The next 5 years will be a significant turning point to see the HUONE logo shine brightly in every major city. We thank you who have always been our fan, for better or worse. It is our mission to make you proud.