Gobmi: Saami Culture-Inspired Startup Wins Arctic Futures Award

Martin Banks

Belgium (Brussels Morning newspaper) The second edition of the annual award that gives €7,500 of financial assistance to a fledgling start-up or young entrepreneur based in the Arctic was given to Gobmi, a clothing brand founded in 2022 in Áltá, Norway, by sisters Hanna Moen Reinsnes and Live Moen Johannessen.

The pair, who only a few years ago re-discovered their Saami heritage, set out to create sustainably-produced modern urban wear that incorporates elements of their Saami culture.

The award was again presented in Brussels on 29 November during the annual Arctic Futures Symposium, an international conference organized by the International Polar Foundation and its many Arctic stakeholder partners that brings together Arctic stakeholders from across the region to discuss topics of importance to them. The event concluded on Wednesday.

Hanna said, “We are deeply honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award. It acknowledges our dedication to marrying Saami traditions with modern style, and empowers us to further our journey in sustainable and culturally rich fashion.”

Gobmi was selected as the winner out of 18 candidates who applied from Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, northern Norway, northern Sweden, and northern Finland by a committee of experts with years of experience working with startups in the North American and European Arctic.

“Gobmi is an example of the kind of startup unique to the Arctic that can be created by the innovative young people living in the region,” said Alain Hubert, Founder and President of the International Polar Foundation and the initiator of the zero-emission Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research station. “It’s possible to achieve your dreams with hard work and determination.”

The startup stood out above the rest for many reasons, it was said.

“While there were several highly qualified candidates, Gobmi stood out because their business draws on their traditional Saami heritage to create a sustainably produced modern line of clothing,” commented Mads Frederiksen, Director of the Arctic Economic Council and member of the selection committee. “It’s promising to see that young, female, indigenous entrepreneurs are creating their own startups.”

An initiative of the International Polar Foundation and financed by the Trân family, the Laurence Trân Arctic Futures Award was established in 2022 to help a fledgling startup or young entrepreneur based in the Arctic further establish their business.

Among the 18 applicants, the selection committee also chose to recognize three startups with honorable mentions. These companies include:

Air Vitalize from Alaska, invented a low-power filterless industrial electrostatic precipitation (ESP) device to create outdoor “clean air pockets” in polluted Fairbanks, Alaska.

Styga / Arctic Factory from Rovaniemi, Finland, which produces sustainably-produced mobile housing units, which can address the housing shortage in several parts of the Arctic

Super Hipsters Oy from Oulu, Finland, produces locally sourced fermented food that maintains a long tradition of fermenting food in Arctic cultures to preserve it for long periods.

The award was presented by IPF Managing Director Nicolas Van Hoecke, Brigitte Trân-Loustau from the Trân family, and Director of the Arctic Economic Council Mads Frederiksen.

This year’s symposium focused on topics such as Arctic cooperation in the current geopolitical climate, security, creating healthy Arctic communities, youth initiatives, critical raw materials, the Green Transition, and energy solutions and attracted nearly 200 people.

“Receiving this award reinforces our commitment to Gobmi’s vision,” commented Live Moen Johannessen, Creative Director at Gobmi. “We are excited and inspired to continue blending our cultural roots with modern design, creating pieces that are meaningful and environmentally conscious.”

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Martin Banks is an experienced British-born journalist who has been covering the EU beat (and much else besides) in Brussels since 2001. Previously, he had worked for many years in regional journalism in the UK and freelanced for national titles. He has a keen interest in foreign affairs and has closely followed the workings of the European Parliament and MEPs in particular for some years.