Leather processing

Kaarna is sustainably produced leather

The elk is a wild animal that cannot be domesticated or ranched. Elk hunting is strictly regulated and licensed, which is why the availability of elk hides is limited. Because this raw material is so rare and precious, the production of Kaarna Elk Leather focuses on a limited product palette and long production runs. This ensures that we have the capacity to process it all and that the resulting products are of the highest quality. We process each hide in a manner that is ecologically and ethically sustainable in every respect.

Modern industrial leather production must be organised professionally and in a way that is also safe for workers and the environment.

To ensure sustainable use and production, it is vital to produce leather in places where the traditions and best practices of the leather-making craft and the principles of sustainable use are respected.

As a traditional family business, we place great value on sustainability as well as the traditions of our craft. The principles of corporate environmental responsibility and sustainable development form the bedrock of our operations. Practically all our customers share our values.

Only tanned leather endures

Sustainably processed genuine leather is a more ecological and ethical choice than synthetic leather. Artificial leather is usually made of plastic, which means it is derived from fossil fuel-based chemicals and it is not biodegradable.

Real leather also lasts much longer than fake leather. With the right care, genuine leather lasts for generations and only grows more beautiful as it ages, acquiring a unique patina over time. Fake leather ages poorly and wears out quickly. Because our raw material is as natural as it gets and our production process is sustainable and environmentally friendly, we can safely say that our leather is a genuinely ethical and ecological choice.

Genuine leather lasts much longer after a tanning process. Untreated raw hides harden when they dry out, putrefy when they are rewetted and turn into glue when they are boiled. Only when they are tanned do they turn into durable and soft leather.

Tanning is the part of industrial leather production that is considered the most problematic for the environment. But tanning is also what turns fragile raw hides into a warm, durable and almost everlasting material that can be easily made into a variety of items, including clothing and footwear.
Leather can be tanned in many ways, the most common of which are vegetable tanning and chrome tanning.
Vegetable-tanned leather is tanned using tannins extracted from natural materials such as tree bark rather than using industrial chemicals. Vegetable tanning is a method that has been used for thousands of years, and getting it right requires an in-depth knowledge of this traditional craft.

In making Kaarna, we have combined the traditional craft with modern production planning and control to reduce our ecological footprint.

We only make chrome-tanned leather for specific needs: when the final product requires an exceptionally high resistance to heat or water. We approach the chrome tanning process in a highly responsible manner, precipitating the chromium out after the tanning process and delivering it to a certified refinery in solid form. To ensure production quality, we regularly test our tanned hides using an independent laboratory.

Here in the Nordic North, nature is an integral part of life. We live and work in the peace and quiet of the Finnish countryside, surrounded by idyllic scenery. A clean environment is a matter we take very personally.

We depend on forests for our raw materials and our livelihood, but respecting and protecting nature is also an important value for us in itself.

Passing down the art and craft of leather making

We are a 100% Finnish third-generation family company that makes premium leather for demanding needs. We would not be where we are now without our highly skilled and committed staff, whom we want to take good care of.

We want to be an excellent place to work: a tannery where happy and highly skilled employees make ethically produced leather in a safe work environment. We treat all our employees with respect and dignity and ensure that they have equal opportunities in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We offer our employees appropriate training and human resources development opportunities. We provide a great deal of training to our employees ourselves, passing down the art and craft of leather making.

Our employee wellbeing and workplace ergonomics are regularly monitored by our occupational healthcare provider. We also offer our employees great benefits.

We respect the dignity, privacy and rights of each individual and do not tolerate any kind of discrimination, threats, harassment or abuse. We support a culture of doing things together and consider diversity to be our greatest asset. Transparency and collaboration across different cultures and partners come naturally to us. We employ people of 12 different nationalities and do business in 25 different countries.

We comply with applicable collective agreements and ensure that all of our employees work in a safe environment.

Our promise

We promise you this: you can wear any product made of Kaarna Elk Leather with pride and in good conscience.

We take good care of our staff, work in close collaboration with hunting clubs to promote ethical hunting practices, and continuously improve our production processes in line with green values while preserving the traditional craft. Because we have a legacy to uphold.