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Nuohooja Saara Mustakallio työssään katolla

Chimney sweep Saara Mustakallio is active in the Pyhäjoki entrepreneurs’ association and in the Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät SME organization. Photos by Timo Heikkala

A modern chimney sweep, a paragon of an entrepreneur

Saara Mustakallio is a chimney sweep known by everyone in Pyhäjoki. Active in the local entrepreneur association, Mustakallio considers the Hanhikivi 1 project to have positive effects on the everyday life of local entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneur Saara Mustakallio, you are known in Pyhäjoki as Saara the Nuohooja (Chimney Sweep). How did you end up becoming a chimney sweep?

Eight years ago, I had just had my second child. One day, I was pushing the stroller in sleet and rain when the local chimney sweep was driving by in his van. I had previously worked as a construction painter, but now that I had a family, I wanted a job that would allow me to stay in Pyhäjoki.

On impulse, I flagged down the chimney sweep and asked the driver, whom I did not know, if he’d hire me. He did, and I completed the chimney sweep qualification on an apprenticeship contract. I started my own business as a sole proprietor in 2018.

You are active in the Pyhäjoki entrepreneurs’ association and in the Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät organization. How do you want to develop entrepreneurship in Pyhäjoki?

I grew up in Oulu but consider myself now a near-native Pyhäjoki resident. I know almost everyone I meet in the area. Pyhäjoki has become an important town for me and I want to develop entrepreneurship there.

In the spring, the Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Yrittäjät organization launched cooperation with the Pyhäjoki Upper Secondary School. We bring entrepreneurs closer to the young people so that they could see what entrepreneurs do and how they can sell their own competence as light entrepreneurs, for example. As entrepreneurs and as a region, we succeed best when we understand the importance of cooperation. You cannot and do not need to try to do everything yourself.

What do you, as an entrepreneur, think the Hanhikivi 1 project offers Pyhäjoki?

It is a good thing that the nuclear power plant is built here on the west coast. The Hanhikivi 1 project has made Pyhäjoki better known and given a boost to business life, although few local businesses were established expressly for the project.

The Hanhikivi 1 project has made Pyhäjoki better known and given a boost to business life.”

In the long run, it is also good that new businesses are established, since we entrepreneurs would welcome long-term development and growth in Pyhäjoki. New permanent residents generate demand for services, such as restaurants, cafés and gyms. And better services make the area more attractive overall. I also applaud how Fennovoima has provided financial support to the enterprise culture of Pyhäjoki and to entrepreneurship workshops for young people.

What are you like as a chimney sweep?

My overall approach in all jobs is to do them well. Chimney sweeping is statutory, and all hearths that are used actively must be swept regularly. Two years ago, the earlier chimney sweep districts were discontinued, and now you can order the chimney sweep services from anyone. I know I have done a good job when a customer calls the following year and wants me to do the chimney sweeping for their house again.

Tell us something that we did not know about the chimney sweep vocation.

The image of a soot-covered chimney sweep is a thing of the past, when dust and ash from the flues settled on the floor and it took weeks to get everything cleaned up. Modern-day chimney sweeps use powerful vacuum cleaners up on the roof and when cleaning the firebox. After the visit of a good chimney sweep, the customer hardly notices they were ever there.

Nuohooja Saara Mustakallio seisoo katolla savupiipun vieressä
Primarily, Saara Mustakallio’s works in Pyhäjoki, but she also has customers within approximately a hundred-kilometer radius who order chimney sweeping together for their one-family houses. Mustakallio has also worked at Fennovoima’s properties on the Hanhikivi peninsula.