Mama Blogger of the Month!
posted by: Amber Johnson
1) How did you and your husband meet? Is he Finnish as well?
My husband and I met in Frankfurt, Germany, over ten years ago. Matt is from Austin, Texas and he was in the military and stationed in Germany for six months. I was an engineering student, and taking a year off my college in Finland, and studying German in Frankfurt. We dated only for one month in Germany, and I came to the United States a few months after Matt left Germany. It was like in the movies – farewells at the railway stations and international airports, and we finally got married in Alabama after 10 months since we had met. We got married on Matt’s lunch break from the flight school – I had a white dress, everybody else had the pilot’s green uniform, like in Top Gun.
2) How many different countries have you lived in? Did your children learn the various languages?
We have travelled a lot together. Our first daughter Isabella was born in Finland, second daughter Gabriella in Germany and our son Kristian was born in New York – within three years! (They are 7, 6 and 5 years old). Colorado is our seventh state where we have lived in the past 10 years. I wish my children had been a little bit older when we lived in Germany to learn the language, but even Isabella has forgotten all the German she knew back then. We speak both Finnish and English at home, but my children mainly want to speak English. But it is cool to have a “secret language” and at least I can say “take your finger off your nose” in Finnish in public places and they understand – but nobody else does!
3) How did you end up in Colorado?
Two years ago we lived in Nashville, Tennessee area, and my husband had a big corporate job over there. We built our dream house in the suburbs but realized that it wasn’t for us. One evening my husband googled some open jobs, and found a job in Durango. I had never been to Colorado, even though I had always wanted to visit, and I had never even heard of Durango. I googled Durango, saw the photos of the mountains; and my husband quit his job the next day. We were lucky he landed the open job as an emergency service helicopter pilot in Durango – we were on the road driving from Tennessee to Colorado two weeks later. Colorado just seemed like the perfect place to raise children and after living here I couldn’t agree more – we love it here.
4) Tell us about Skimbaco and what does it mean?
Skimbaco.com is my online store. I wanted to open a store offering unique items for children. I haven’t shopped at big malls for years, and I was tired of constant child labor cases of big clothing companies and I was very aware of the labor issues in countries like China even before all the recall issues last year. I wanted to offer parents a place to find good quality products for their children – good quality meaning everything from manufacturing process to philanthropic missions the companies have. Most of the products we offer are designed by mothers and are from other small family owned companies like mine. The name was really difficult to think of – I wanted something different and meaning for our family and since the whole reason of us moving to Colorado was to spend more time with the children and enjoy life to the fullest we decided to name the company “Skimbaco” – meaning skiing in Colorado. “Skimba” is a Finnish slang word for skiing and “Co” stands for Colorado. The name is a symbiosis of two languages and two cultures – all perfectly together.
5) Why did you start blogging?
I had been wanting to start blogging for years – I have always loved writing, but the first step was huge for me to take. Especially starting to blog in English, which isn’t my native language. I had visited so many cool blogs, like the February’s Blogger of the Month Amy’s blog Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and wanted to be part of the blogging community. I also felt really honored what all the bloggers had written about Skimbaco, and I wanted to return the favor – spread word of their blogs and also of the products I believed in. I started my company with a shoe string budget and without bloggers I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wanted to help other mompreneurs to get their products known and also help parents to find great products and information of issues concerning children. I realized pretty soon that I wanted much more from blogging than just write product reviews – I feel really lucky to have gotten to know so many new people through blogging, and it is a big part of my everyday life at the moment.
6) Given all of your international travels, what do you like most about raising your children in Colorado?
It is really tempting to say it’s the nature and what it has to offer (like skiing!), but if I had to pick one which I like the most in Colorado – it’s the people. We have found so many like minded friends here, and people who care about the same things we do – family, environment, nature, skiing… I feel the growing environment for our children is amazing. The kids actually ask for “healthy snacks”, respect nature, think recycling of no-fuss normal thing to do, and they just thrive in the schools here. Me and my husband feel really lucky to be able to raise our children in such of wonderful community.