Jenni Ahtiainen, Designer & Founder of DEAFMETAL®

I am a Finnish woman, a wife, mother and entrepreneur. I love people, their differences, and especially ones who are pure and raw in all of their opinions. I love writing, I love words when they create something more than themselves. And I love life so much I’ve decided I’m not going to die.

I cherish moments around other people and the feeling of leaving a mark on them, and on the world. Their presence is the place where I get my energy. Everyone has passions, and mine are simple. I like to solve problems in a functional and beautiful way, to offer people solutions which my own heart and eyes find pleasure in. I don’t have set goals because I’m more of a wanderer. I go with the flow. My dreams are what move me forward. But I always listen to what’s going on around me, and I always listen to my intuition.

Soon I will have been working in the fashion industry for 20 years, and now as the innovator of Deafmetals, I donʼt consider myself a game-changer nor a fashion designer. I’m simply a visionary amongst people who think for themselves, and an idealist who belongs with those who tend to question all things ordinary. 

In the end, I am just a girl who wanted to draw her own flag.

I've been working as an accessory designer for my own accessory brand called gTIE, which I established 14 years ago. I've been designing bags, bracelets, jewelry and neckwear for people like Marilyn Manson, Snoop Dogg, and even Bono has one of my scarfs. You can see my designs on IG @gtiejenni and @gtieneckwear.

Deafmetal started as a personal accident because of my own hearing loss. My eardrum exploded. But it turned out to be a gift.

As I have thought about many things in life, true stories always find their purpose.

And they can work as a perfect fertiliser if you can change your perspective on them. I knew I was going to need hearing aids at some point but the explosion speeded everything up. I still remember telling the audiologist who was fitting my first aids, ”I will so make these rock”.

When I got back home it was Monday and I was wallowing around with them for the first few days. They just didn’t feel like a part of me. Saturday was my first day off from work and I remember going into my workshop and taking them from behind my ears, thinking… ok aids, this is it. It basically took me just a few minutes to create the first jewelry holder from really thin reindeer leather, something I’d been using a lot with my previous accessory brand. The first prototype was a kind of a gun holster-looking innovation. 

I also created new kinds of earrings with long chains and leathers that could attach from my ears to the “holster” around the hearing aids. I remember when the first pieces of ”hearing-aid-earrings” aka Deafmetals were ready, my bonus daughter came into the workshop and asked what I was doing. Afterwards she said she could see from my shining eyes that I’d invented something really cool.

I presented the first Deafmetals to her with a boundless smile. Finally, my hearing aids looked like me. And I looked like me. 

Mistakes or faults or scars of any kind can seem like a challenge at the start, but in the end they can be looked at like a possibility, not a threat. With unexpected incidents 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. 

Just a bit about the name, Deafmetal. When I was making the first IG post, I was trying to think of the right hashtag to describe my innovation. Deafmetal came into my head like a light. It refers to metal as a silent material around the hearing aid. Deaf metal... silent material. Also the word Deafmetal funnily enough suits my personal image as a designer. I totally look like “deafmetal.”

Deafmetal will be the brand that started to make a change in people’s attitudes and lifestyles. Deafmetal is also going to be remembered as a brand that opened up the conversations around preventing hearing loss. After all, the amount of hearing device users is ever growing. It’s like human-sized climate change and no one is really doing anything about it. We will.