The Greatest of All Is Love. The Marimekko Story

Ulla-Maija Paavilainen

Original title: Suurin niistä on rakkaus. Kirsti Paakkasen tarina.

Author: Ulla-Maija Paavilainen

Published: 2020

Publisher: Otava

Genre: Memories & Biographies

Pages: 346

Reading material:

English sample

The breath-taking rags-to-riches story of Marimekko’s former owner and CEO Kirsti Paakkanen, who turned the fortunes of the iconic brand around. This is the true story of how a retired businesswoman took over the practically bankrupt Finnish design house and turned Marimekko into a successful worldwide brand name.

Kirsti Paakkanen was born into a family who wished for a boy. She left home at the age of 16, carrying only a cardboard box containing her clothes, a vast amount of self-confidence and a dream to make use of her talent to create something new. At the age of 62 she was on the verge of retiring when she bought Marimekko – an almost bankrupt design house, which she transformed. And the rest is history. This charismatic businesswoman has had it all. Never forgetting where she came from, in this book Kirsti Paakkanen openly shares the ups and downs of her life and her incredible journey from the small rural district of Saarijärvi in the middle of Finland to the French Riviera.

”Japan needs to know about the Finnish social environment, and the energy, lifestyle and story of Ms. Kirsti Paakkanen. Not only is it a business book, but also it will become a book to give inspiration to and encourage readers here to give the gender gap serious thought.”

– Yumi Numaguchi, Editor, Shodensha, Japan.

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Rights sold:
FINLAND: Otava (orig.)
ESTONIA: Helios Kirjastus OÜ
JAPAN: Shodensha


Foreign covers

About author

Ulla-Maija Paavilainen

Ulla-Maija Paavilainen, award-winning journalist, is the author of several well-received novels and non-fiction books. She has worked as the editor-in-chief at several top Finnish magazines over the past 25 years. One of her specific areas of interest is the role of women in working life and analysing the power structure and what is required for women to have successful careers.

Paavilainen’s most recent work is the moving biography of the legendary entrepreneur Kirsti Paakkanen, who took over Marimekko, one of Finland’s most famous design brands. Kirsti Paakkanen: Greatest of All is Love is the story of Marimekko, an authentic rags-to riches tale of how a poor girl from the countryside first founded the world’s first all-women’s advertising agency, Womena. Selling Womena when she was 62, Paakkanen bought Marimekko, a global design company that was on the verge of bankruptcy and turned it around into an international iconic fashion house.


2020, Memories & Biographies

Ulla-Maija Paavilainen

The Greatest of All Is Love. The Marimekko Story