Marimekko - Women January 24 2020

We recently started to resell one of the most iconic Finnish and Scandinavian lifestyle brands: Marimekko. Surely Marimekko doesn't need much of an introduction but nonetheless we think a brand of this stature has to be mentioned. 

Marimekko is a story of patterns and women. This time we'll talk about the two most important women at Marimekko.

The founder Armi Ratia was born in 1912 yet her creative vision is still alive today - what a triumph! She said she doesn't sell a dress but a lifestyle which in the 1950's when Marimekko was founded was an unique idea. The colourfull patterns and designs were something very welcome in Finland where we had just started to recover from the Second World War.

"At Marimekko, Armi Ratia was a textile artist, managing director, creative director, wizard of words, publicity guru, and wellspring of inspiration. She had an incredible ability to decipher the mood of the times and sense future trends. She also had a genius for recognising talent and finding ways to realise even the wildest, most imaginative ideas." Needless to add more - what a list of skills!

She was also well know in Finland of the summer parties she hosted. She was a colourful person and loved to party - if there wasn't a good enough of a reason to celebrate, you could always invent one up! I can only immagine what these parties must have been like!

Armi died in 1979 and in the following years Marimekko was in great difficulty. The new management handled the brand poorly and I remember how not only lowly valued but also in the verge of bankrupt this brand was. In the 1990's the second most important woman in Marimekko's history bought the brand: Kirsti Paakkanen. Nobody would've thought - including me - that Marimekko would rise up again. She had already retired in France after a long career in her previous company Womena, an advertising agency which she had led for 20 years. She was 62 then, took an almost bankrupt Marimekko in her hands and brought it up back to its glory. What an amazing woman!

These two amazing women had in common the fight for creativity against the economists as Kirsti has put it. When she became the new CEO, creativity, design and the individual skills of the employees became the company's core strategy. In her work, Paakkanen implemented many of Armi Ratia's business ideas. Alongside classic designs, she also took on the work of new designers. 

 

Kirsti Paakkanen, at the age of 78, sold her stakes in Marimekko to Dr. Mika Ihamuotila in October 2007.