Saga Furs’ Business Director Julio Suarez Christensen sits down to discuss a few important topics within the fur industry together with fur farmer Sari Koskinen. They talk about conveying the right message to stakeholders, as the fur industry is going through a strained period.

– First and foremost, it would be nice to hear a little bit about yourself, Sari, before we start discussing our topic, Julio says.

Sari passionately tells us about her work on the farm in Kaustinen, Finland. Owned by two brothers, the farm dates back to the 1960s, breeding minks, foxes and Finnraccoons. Sari has set up an Instagram account to correct the misconceptions regarding fur farming, showing society how the animals are being taken care of and life on the farm in general.

Julio goes on asking Sari a question about the challenges people in the fur industry are facing in modern time.

– The environment of the fur industry has undoubtedly changed a lot since 1964, as well as the perception of it. Through the chain of stakeholders to our end consumers – what are, in your opinion, the main challenges?

Sari emphasizes the importance of transparency, not only towards customers and stakeholders but towards society as well.

– When talking about things like sustainability and traceability of our products, we need to explain and show what it actually means by giving concrete examples, she says.

Sari also mentions the responsibility she feels she has as a fur farmer, of being able to tell people about the work the farmers do and how the animals live and grow on the farm.

– Looking at the beautiful, finished products in magazines and stores while not educating people about the work put into them quickly leads to misconceptions and raises suspicion about the industry.

In conclusion: in a time where the influence of social media has grown, it would be irresponsible not to be transparent throughout the whole process of fur farming. Julio agrees that the subjects Sari touched upon are fundamental and further underlines the value of being fully transparent.

– The Finnish fur farmers have been pioneers in certification and traceability. I think we can take pride in showing how we operate on our farms to tell people about the work behind the garments and fashion items, he says.

Staying silent is never a good solution.

Telling our own story

Sari has noticed that finding correct information about the fur industry is challenging, especially on social media.

– Misconceptions occur due to lack of valid information. I find that even the small things, such as how our animals live and how and what they eat, play a big role in sharing information with society. I take pictures of everyday life on the farm, with short explanations about how things are progressing. The main reason for starting this Instagram account was that I wanted to show how farming animals really live, Sari explains.

 She finds that most people get misled by all the information available – it’s hard to separate facts from fiction.

– I tend to get nasty feedback, but that’s not a reason to be silent. We must base our arguments on facts, Sari adds.

Julio agrees that this kind of visibility is crucial and that it’s vital that the people at Saga tell their own story instead of letting other, sometimes more harmful, voices tell it for them.

– In the past, he reflects, this might have been a mistake made by the whole industry. We’ve been too silent, thus projecting the image of us not being proud of what we do. Full transparency is always the best tool!

– How do you, Sari, respond to negative feedback?

– I always try to be kind, at the same time asking if there’s any information I can provide. When you respond in kindness, people often tend to be kind back. However, when facing resistance and prejudgments, you must always be ready to defend your point of view by explaining – staying silent is never a good solution, she points out. Julio continues: – We will never be able to convince everyone, but we can educate those who lack information about our trade. Those who do not have the information about fur farming can truly benefit from this kind of transparency.

Educating the next generation of consumers

As the chat draws to a close, Julio asks Sari a very important question about conveying the message to today’s youth.

– What needs to be the message to our younger generation so they, in turn, can make conscious choices? Sari replies:

– Right now, the growing trend is sustainability and traceability, and we need to educate our younger generations that not all fur is created equally. And this is where WelFur and Furmark® play a big role. I think it is a big advantage within the fur industry that we can show consumers the whole production chain; it’s really quite unique.

– The end-consumers’ desire for knowledge is growing, and it’s only through certification, traceability, and full transparency that we will be able to convey the message and start owning the message to tell our own story, Julio concludes. He ends their conversation by praising Sari for her courage to be fully exposed and encourages her to continue her contribution to the farming industry and Saga Furs by telling her story.