Sön 14 jul / År 42 / Nr 3 2024

Highly motivated entrepreneur aims to make the Pajala brand visible

At the old bank premises in Pajala, former midwife Hillevi Isacsson Ydfjärd has opened a café. Hillevi has always been highly motivated and involved in Pajala’s development. As an entrepreneur, she has even greater opportunities to collaborate and influence for positive development locally.

Café Valvet is named after the old vault that the former bank had on site. Hillevi Isacsson Ydfjärd had already tried her wings as an entrepreneur in Pajala before she decided to become a café owner, when between 2011 and 2018 she ran a shop that sold sweets, cosmetics, jewelery and gifts, all alongside her work as a midwife.

As the store was sold in 2018, the large bank premises became vacant at the same time. As a true entrepreneur, Hillevi immediately began to think about how to take advantage of the new opportunities that were offered in connection with the vacancy. It was when she was out shopping that the idea was born; Hillevi was craving a particular type of sandwich cake and then quickly realised that it was not to be found in Pajala, on that particular day.

“I immediately thought that there must be sandwich cake when you feel like eating it, available here in Pajala just like there is in other places. We who live in Pajala want the same high level of service and as good a selection as others. All said and done, I started investigating the possibilities of opening a café at the old bank premises”, Hillevi says.

A certain personality is required

There has been several turns in connection with permits and remodelling of the premises, but once Café Valvet opened, it turned out to be a success. After all, this was in the shadow of Northland’s bankruptcy in Pajala, and many probably wondered how the new cafe owner, who was very enterprising but still opened a business in the midst of Pajala’s recession, would fare.

Questions that immediately arose were why Café Valvet does not serve food such as home cooking. Since Hillevi had a cook, she immediately thought; why not try? Today, food and above all home cooking style meals, are served Monday – Saturday and the café also has catering, memorial moments, pub evenings, sandwich cakes, regular cakes, pastries and so on.

“It is quite clear that a certain personality is required to succeed as an entrepreneur in a small town like Pajala, but I have also had the privilege of finding staff who are passionate about this type of business. For sure, the staff are my biggest and best investment”, states Hillevi.

“I have always been creative and driven, and I have always said that most things can be solved in some way. Along the way I, together with fantastic employees and of course my own family to support and help, have succeeded in building not just one but two businesses from the ground up in Pajala”.

Hillevi also runs the café at Pajala Airport during the month of December when visitors from the UK come and visit Santa’s Winter Village to meet the real Santa Claus and experience a snow-sparkling landscape to get in the Christmas spirit.

The shop that Hillevi started is still run to some extent by new owners, and the café is constantly being further developed with new innovations, such as motif cakes which are the latest to capture life’s highlights and create interest. It is clear, according to Hillevi, that the people of Pajala wants a vibrant café culture.

Pajala must be experienced

One of the most important factors for Pajala to grow is to establish a collaborative culture. According to Hillevi, this must be improved. She herself collaborates a lot with another passionate entrepreneur in the municipality, Alf Andersson, who runs Santa’s Winter Village (Tomtemagasinet). Together they plan, among other things, for the development of Pajala’s summer market, which annually attracts between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors.

“There is a lot that can be developed in Pajala if you put some effort in. We can collaborate much more between companies than what is done today”, says Hillevi. “Together we can strengthen our brand in Pajala, we have so much that is unique and can only be experienced here”.

Snow-covered hills, snowmobile adventures, dog sledding, fishing in both winter and summer, midnight sun and much more – and last but not least the real Santa Claus. Pajala must be experienced.