The sweetest second life

The sweetest second life

Helsinki, one chilly afternoon of fall 2010. Jaime and Yuan’s daughter is three years old when she becomes stubborn asking for a bow. At first, her parents don’t have any intention to throw on a coat and head out onto the street in desperate search for one before shops will close their doors. However, you know how little reasonable small girls can get when they consider a concrete item is missing in their fantasy world (and even more if we are talking about such a very precious – and pink – detail).

Starting to feel the urgency for finding a solution to this unexpected family crisis, Mexican Jaime de Vizcaya comes up with an original idea: he is going to create a rubber bow out of some old bicycle tires, which have a worn-out inner tube manufactured in brown that now looks conveniently pinkish. As soon as they finish the bow and witness the emotion on their daughter’s face, they recognise the potential of it.

Of course, the fact that both Jaime and his Chinese wife, Yuan Long, had an extensive background in the field of design, helped to easily turn a family anecdote into a business idea. Thus, a new professional adventure soon started for them with the creation of Toinen Elämä (also written 2.elämä), their eco-friendly brand that sells jewellery, complements and items for home decoration, all created from recycled materials. The name of the brand means ‘second life’ in Finnish.

Detail of the ‘Butterfly’ collection, feminine complements made out of recycled bicycle and car inner tube. / PHOTO: 2.elämä.

The story
Yuan arrived in Helsinki in 1999 to study at the University of Art and Design, today part of the Aalto University, from where she graduated in the ceramics department later. In 2002 she spent one year as an exchange student in the US, where she first took lessons in jewellery design. Read more