Karl Fazer was born in Helsinki in 1866, the second youngest child in the Swiss furrier Eduard Fazer’s eight-child family. His father, Eduard Fazer, had gone to Hamburg as a journeyman. Then, Ernst Flohr, who worked in Helsinki as a master tailor, hired him in 1843 to be his furrier. In 1849, Eduard was accepted as a master furrier in Helsinki, at which time he was also awarded citizen rights.
Eduard Fazer wished for his sons socially esteemed professions to provide for a good living. The father resented the choice of his youngest son Karl who wanted to become a confectioner. He needed to get professional training abroad. The international and sophisticated Saint Petersburg was the best place to study for our future confectioner. Karl Fazer was accepted as an apprentice at the recognised G. Berrin patisserie. He was finally given a good report, the journeyman’s letter. As a professional, he also worked in other famous companies in Saint Petersburg and later in Berlin and Paris. Finally, at the age of 25, the fully-trained master confectioner was prepared to show his skills in Fazer’s hometown, Helsinki.
Karl Fazer opened his café in the autumn of 1891 in his father’s property at Kluuvikatu 3 in the centre of Helsinki. He opened a café in tiny premises in the building next door and then joined the two apartments. Fazer himself lived on the upper floor.
The coffee, pastries, biscuits, cakes and chocolate were excellent. Karl Fazer soon became known for his eagerness to do everything in his power for his customers - he wanted to exceed their expectations. Karl Fazer’s goal to offer his customers taste sensations still is at the core of the company’s operations.
Fazer’s café and confectionery business was trendy and became part of Helsinki’s cultural life. Cafés were also opened in other districts outside the centre, even in far-away Töölö. Despite the success of the cafés, confectionery built Fazer’s reputation. He had learned how to make them in the leading European confectionery companies, and they reflected his proficiency in full. Fazer started industrial confectionery production in 1897. He established a confectionery factory in Punavuori, Helsinki, on the same plot where his brother Max Fazer had a wholesale business. Karl made a deal with his brother on the wholesale distribution of his confectionery.
Karl Fazer combined the best features of the Russian and French confectionery cultures in his confectionery. Their quality was first class, appearance tempting, and packed in exquisite packaging. Karl Fazer understood the value of design and was good at marketing. As early as the end of the 19th century, Fazer placed advertisements on streetcars in Helsinki.
Berta Blomqvist, the eligible beauty, finished trade school, became Karl’s life companion, closest colleague and advisor. Berta Fazer had a word to say in product and production planning, she took care of bookkeeping and closing the books; she would sit at the cash desk during the busy hours, dress the shop windows and, in the early days, also feed the company’s employees at her table together with the family.
Karl and Berta Fazer had four children. It was a task for the entire family to name their confectionery. A new product and a new product name would always be celebrated together.
Karl Fazer’s son Sven started to work at the factory at 17. Besides skills, Karl Fazer also passed on his values to the new generation. Sven recalled his father’s speech to him at his coming of age: “There are many young men, sons of rich fathers, who only engage in amusement and forget about commitment to hard work. It is my hope that you will eagerly continue this work which offers many opportunities.” In 1939, Sven Fazer became the managing director who made Fazer a big industrial food company.
Karl Fazer was very fond of nature, hunting and fishing. He had his pheasant farm at the outskirts of Helsinki at the beginning of the 20th century, and in 1912 he rented the hunting rights of the Jokioinen estate and set up a pheasant farm there. Over the years, he became a conservationist and expert in birds. He established protected areas for birds in the Ahvenanmaa archipelago at his own cost. In the precincts of the Touvila estate (Taubila in Swedish), he had purchased in Pyhäjärvi in the Vyborg province in Karelia. Fazer was a shooter of the Olympic class, and he was successful in domestic and European competitions.
Karl Fazer, the commercial counsellor since 1926, passed away in the autumn of 1932 at the age of 66. To this day, Fazer is a family-owned company.