Olet täällä

It's party time! - Entrepreneur Evon Söderlund makes events her business

It's party time! - Entrepreneur Evon Söderlund makes events her business



Evon Söder­lund took the idea of an Asian karaoke box and gave it a whole new twist. Now she runs Huone, the first events ho­tel in the world.

Evon was raised in Malaysia in a vil­lage where usu­ally only boys would re­ceive higher ed­u­ca­tion. Girls nor­mally stud­ied un­til high school and were then sup­posed to learn how to cook and clean and raise chil­dren. Evon, how­ever, wanted some­thing more. She stud­ied dance in Kuala Lumpur and be­came a pro­fes­sional dancer and dance teacher. When she was 19 she came to Eu­rope to see the dance scene.

While study­ing in Malaysia Evon had be­come friends with a few Finnish ex­change stu­dents. One of them was Jussi Söder­lund. When she came to Eu­rope she con­tacted Jussi who asked her to visit Fin­land. They started dat­ing, and af­ter three months he pro­posed. Now they have been mar­ried for 10 years. – I was afraid that if I said no I would re­gret it for the rest of my life.

Haaga-Helia has the best rep­u­ta­tion in this study field, that’s why I chose it.

In Fin­land Evon worked at the Malaysian em­bassy as the sec­re­tary for the am­bas­sador for two years be­fore she went to study hos­pi­tal­ity man­age­ment at Haaga-Helia.

– I weighed my fu­ture op­tions. As a for­eigner who doesn’t re­ally speak the lan­guage I felt that it would be eas­ier to em­ploy my­self in­stead of work­ing for oth­ers. Haaga-Helia has the best rep­u­ta­tion in this study field, that’s why I chose it. They have very strong hos­pi­tal­ity knowl­edge.

It was a big step, leav­ing work and be­com­ing a full-time stu­dent, but the dream of her own busi­ness was form­ing in her mind. – We al­ways found Asian karaoke boxes fun and won­dered why there weren’t any in Fin­land, rooms that you could rent with your friends and have a party.

Evon’s stud­ies helped her de­velop her busi­ness idea into Huone and pre­pared her as an en­tre­pre­neur.

– Haaga-Helia hos­pi­tal­ity studies were just what I needed to know how to run a hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness in Fin­land. It also gave me re­as­sur­ance that I could do it. 

She made a lot of new friends and good con­tacts in Haaga-Helia. In fact, one of her lec­tur­ers is her men­tor and at the mo­ment he sits on the board of Huone.

Evon has been an en­tre­pre­neur since 2012. Huone launched in Novem­ber 2012, and it did well for a start-up. In the first month and a half they had 70 events. In Evon’s ex­pe­ri­ence, be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is stress­ful and time-con­sum­ing but she is not a per­son who wants to won­der ”what if?”

– I don’t want to sit on a couch when I’m 50 and won­der if I could have made it. I want to make my dream come true. I want to do some­thing mean­ing­ful with my life.

One of the rooms at Huone, Evon’s events ho­tel.

Evon has em­ployed a lot of her fel­low Haaga-Helia stu­dents. In fact, ev­ery­one at Huone but her hus­band is a Haaga-Helia grad­u­ate or stu­dent. Evon also has a very good re­la­tion­ship with Haaga-Helia.

– Teach­ers still call some­times and ask how things are go­ing and if I need help. That is a real priv­i­lege.

In the fu­ture Evon plans to ex­pand Huone which now has eight rooms. For the sum­mer they are build­ing a ter­race and later they are tak­ing over the empty space up­stairs to cre­ate big­ger rooms.

– Events for 30 to 80 peo­ple are in great de­mand, and we can­not ac­com­mo­date all re­quests since only two of our rooms are big rooms.

Evon has had quite a ca­reer so far, but what about dance? Will she re­turn to dance one day? – I still danced while I was in Haaga-Helia. It is so built in me that I can’t give it up. If I have the time I will go back to dance but now I re­ally don’t have the time. I want to pur­sue my pas­sion.

What is new with Evon in spring 2015?

Third year of the Huone Events Hotel has been a success. The story of Evon and Huone has been told in Taivas ja Helvetti 2 -book, and they have received many awards. So far Huone has hosted nearly 1,500 events. Even though entrepreneurship has sometimes been difficult, Evon has stayed positive.

– I never dreamed of any of this, especially when I got the Most Valuable Entrepreneur of the Year award from PwC. I’m very honored to be selected – it still feels very unreal.

– All of this is a result of hard work. Last year has been a game changer. Now people know Huone and have their eyes on us. It gives us some good pressure to get going.

Evon’s next plan is to expand Huone in the summer 2015. Maybe some day she can spread her business abroad as well.

Becoming a mother changed Evon and helped her to see everything from a different perspective. Priorities changed: baby always comes before Huone. Recently Evon has also started to realize, that she should take more care about herself. So many things are dependent on her. Now she has learned to balance between taking care of the family, the business and herself. She also wants to make more sustainable choices to preserve good surroundings for the next generations.

Looking back, Evon thinks it is good she founded her business while she was studying. The studies at Haaga-Helia were a good package, where she got the support she needed to start a business and to success. After that her career steps were clear.

Honors and awards of Evon & Huone Events Hotel

  • Sisu Juhlavuosi 2015 (campaign features Evon’s story)
  • Restonomi of the Year 2014
  • PwC ‘s Most Valuable Entrepreneur of the year 2014
  • Taivas & Helvetti 2 (book features Evon’s story)
  • Evento award for Suo­men pa­ras ta­pah­tu­ma­paik­ka 2013–2014, or Finland’s Best Event Venue.
  • Best Interior De­sign, International Property Awards