The Finnish florist who brings new life to faded flowers

Every week, Armi Kunnaala and her team visit supermarkets, traditional florists, and the Nordic garden center chain Plantagen to collect imperfect plants that would otherwise get tossed—hydrangeas, roses, vines, fig and apple trees, and more—and give them a second life.

Kunnaala is the 35-year-old founder of Hävikkikukkakauppa Kukkis, Finland’s first flower shop that’s entirely supplied by the surplus of other retailers, given to her at no cost. With her one employee and several volunteers, she rehabilitates the plants that need it and offers cut-flower bouquets, outdoor and home plants, and other floral design services from her small shop on the grounds of a former Helsinki psychiatric hospital that’s now a popular recreation area. Her mission is to start a sustainable botanical revolution. A brochure in the shop sums up its manifesto: “We want to normalize the not-so-perfect, organic product. The work of Kukkis is a protest of the flowers.”

The business, which is growing but not yet profitable, strives to offset some of the environmental impacts of the traditional floral industry. There are many forms of waste in the trade: high greenhouse gas emissions tied to flower imports; excessive use of plastic wrap; unreliable supply and demand; and high beauty standards for flowers that mean minor imperfections can lead to entire bouquets being thrown away. Kunnaala says her initial investment was zero, “just a lot of my own time, sweat, and tears.” She says her annual revenue is around 50,000 euros ($50,000). 

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