An Honest and tell all interview from The Founder of Deafmetal and Pinknoise collaborator… Jenni Ahtiainen

Jenni, please share with us a bit about you and how Deafmetal started for you and how you manage your deafness in daily life currently? 

Deafmetal started as a personal accident, because of my own hearing loss. My ear drum exploded. But it turned out as a gift. As I have thought about many incidents in life, true stories always have their purpose. Shit can work as a hell of a fertilizer if you can change your perspective on how to look at it. It can seem like a challenge, but in the end, misfortune can be looked at like a possibility, not a threat. No matter if you’re in situations like falling in love unplanned with the ”wrong” person or getting too many obstacles thrown in your way, I believe there’s always a way out of it, rather than just falling under it. I believe life does not offer these possibilities for a reason – I mean there’s no reason whatsoever why shit happens. But by those incidents you have a choice. You have a choice to see the unusual bridges. To think about the possibilities that don’t follow the easy or common path. Problems should be looked at like possibilities. And my superpower on top of my ass (intuition) is that when the shit is about to crush me, anybody else could crush under it, but I will not. 

So instead of using the word accident, Deafmetal was born by a personal incident that could have led to ignoring it, or feeling sad about it. But instead it led to something beautiful. Deafmetal has been the most beautiful flower I have ever grown.

How did the Holster design come about? 

The fifth day I was wearing my aid was a Saturday. I took the hearing aids off my ears, put them on the table and had a really hard look at them. I wanted to rock them. Make them mine. Conquer them. I had been using a lot of this reindeer leather with my previous accessory brand called gTIE, so I knew I needed to create something around them into which I could attach something that looks like me. Leather was perfect. No resonance even though the sensitive microphones are next to it. So I drew the smallest pattern ever around my first HA’s, Signia Pure 13’s. 

After the first post of these jewellery holders went viral I got a serious amount of inquiries from HA users with different types/models who wanted their own leather jewellery holders. So quite quickly I found myself drawing the smallest patterns in the world and sewing leather holders for hearing aid users. Then I sewed them by hand. I kept the patterns in a matchbox: the smallest pattern box ever. My whole business was based on those patterns in a matchbox which I could really easily lose somewhere or throw in the garbage by accident. I even laughed about the idea of getting the smallest iron safe for them.

So when the matchbox safe started to become full, my patience with it also started to hit the ‘limits.’ Drawing the never-ending patterns and sewing them all by hand forced me to think that I don’t want to spend all the youth and health I have left on that. I needed a better solution. So, I started to think again. And because silicone offered the best hypoallergenic and stretchy solution for it, my next job was to find a wiser person than me; a silicone expert to help me with the factory-made silicone part. I was laughing my ass off when the factory guy told me they haven’t ever manufactured that kind of piece. Again, my holster was the smallest thing they had done.

What was your vision with the holster? 

I wanted the silicone holster to be cheap so that it could be affordable for everyone. I wanted it to suit all devices. And I wanted it in different colours. 

The whole development part of this silicone holster hasn’t been easy. The first holster prototype worked well, but eventually it was too big for some HA’s so I drew a new one. We made a mould out of it, but for some reason the holster didn’t work. It got broken really easily when over stretching. We had just started conquering the USA and I kept having customer feedback like hell and spent so many months stressing about the holster. Eventually we started to explore the steel mould which it was made of and 2 holster nests out of 10 were broken. I was crying my eyes out. I couldn’t know which holsters were ok and which weren’t, and so many holsters were sent all over the world. I have sent so many replacements of the holsters to so many people and felt really bad about the whole mess. We still do send replacements. But I always believe that good wins. So, after a lot of crying, stressing and pain-in-the-assing we changed the mould for the third time and now the holster is working perfectly… and it was all due to adding less than a millimetre of silicone to the thickness of the holster.

What is your vision and aim with the Pink Noise collaboration?

When I got my aids I was very surprised how unfamiliar I was with them. And the reason was that you can’t see hearing aids anywhere. When eyeglasses came, people experienced the same kind of shame with them – but if you look at the visibility of wearing glasses now, you can see them in any magazine – even in porn movies. So let me tell you that when hearing devices can be seen in adult films, then we have won the prejudice and stigma that is related to hearing devices. I’m doing all I can for this cause. 

The Pink Noise collection is a part of this ”normalizing aids” story. I want to make hearing problems more normal. People with hearing aids love fashion too, so on top of offering jewellery for hearing device users, I just want to make hearing aids more visible. 

All people who feel stigmatized about hearing devices should take a part in this riot. There is nothing to feel ashamed about in hearing loss. It is just that the standards of beauty are twisted and the market economy is built on that shit. When we make all disabilities more visible and normal, the standards of beauty expand and the market economy follows. We are on that path already and that is also why Pink Noise was born. 

We cannot change how the world sees disabilities, but we can change the way we think about it ourselves. And every change starts with one’s own perspective. It’s not difficult at all, so let’s just do it.

Have you enjoyed seeing the holster being paired with colour?

I enjoy seeing my holster being paired with all! 

What’s the future of Deafmetal? 

Deafmetal will be the brand that started to make a change in people’s attitude and lifestyle. Deafmetal is also going to be remembered as the brand that started to talk about preventive work for hearing loss. After all, the amount of hearing device users is growing. It’s like human-sized climate change and no one is doing anything about it. We will be remembered for that.

What’s your advice to people navigating Deafness in life? 

No one is normal. If something is annoying you, you are the only one who can make a change. So make a change, and others will follow.

Thank you Jenni for your time in sharing your story with us and for the honour of collaborating with you. Working with you has been Very Special.

Amy

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