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Finland's "dildo dealer" defends state funding

A wooden dildo maker in Lapland pushes back against criticism following a public funding agency’s decision to grant her a 200,000-euro business loan.

Lapin yliopisto, dildo, design
Tea Latvala showcases her design. Image: Antti Mikkola Yle / Rovaniemi

Self-proclaimed "dildo dealer" Tea Latvala is the founder of a startup called Teatiamo, a company specialising in wooden dildos and anal plugs. In the past three years the firm has drummed up sales of around one thousand of the organic lacquer-finished dildos, with prices ranging from 199 to 249 euros a piece.

In January Business Finland, formerly the public tech and innovation funding agency Tekes, granted Latvala a 200,000-euro loan to be issued in tranches.

"I want to be seen just like any other startup out there. I have already proven myself," Latvala told Yle News.

Tea Latvala kuvaa puisia dildojaan Rovaniemellä
Arctic inspiration. Image: Matias Väänänen / Yle

The wooden dildos stand at the crossroads of art and consumer products, according to Latvala. "But it’s designed as a sex toy."

Hand made in Lapland

Initially turned down by state-owned financing company Finnvera for a loan, Latvala found a mentor in Antti Salminen, a senior specialist at Business Finland, a publicly financed body supporting startups.

Salminen and Latvala both pushed back against moral police upset by the state supporting a sex toy enterprise.

Salminen pointed out that Business Finland can only fund legal enterprises. "Sex toys are a legal industry in Finland, and we fund a whole range of technologies."

"The [value of] the adult toy industry is estimated at an annual 30 billion euros globally, making even a small share of the pie an extremely lucrative prospect," Salminen said of the funding agency's rationale for backing Latvala.

Ultimately Business Finland said, it invests in companies that will benefit the taxpayer in the long run.

"She's a great entrepreneur with convincing sales," Salminen added.

Latvala sees her invention as a new aspect of Finnish timber refinery. She uses a range of wood in her products, from Finnish birch to German walnut and acacia however only birch is native to Finland.

Latvala said her product range is starting to do well in the natural products sector, with Finnish organic market chain Ruohonjuuri recently launching sales.

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