Photographer Päivi Ristell´s Tale of Style and Friendship with Samuji
Samuji has always attracted people for whom the brand means much more than just a shopping place. Samuji friendship is dedication, admiration, fandom, self-confidence.
One such Samuji friend is Photographer Päivi Ristell. Samuji´s Head of Design Anne-Mari Pahkala, had a conversation with Päivi about her work, the significance of Samuji to her style, and what Samuji friendship is and means to her.
A-M: Good morning, Päivi. What kind of day are you expecting today?
P: I'll be returning to work soon after my summer vacation. Today, the schools started, and my eldest began junior high school, my middle child begins school in the second grade, and my youngest started daycare in our hometown district of Kruununhaka.
A-M: I've seen lovely pictures from your trip in the Finnish archipelago. Was this part of your vacation plan?
P: Yes, the archipelago trip was part of my vacation. I'm still on vacation for a few more days, I'm going to the Flow festival with my friend, and then I'll be returning to work. Last year, I took a train trip through Europe with my family and friends. But cycling trips in the archipelago have been a long-standing tradition for our summer vacations.
A-M: We've met a few times before and I know we share the same love for Samuji and have been a fan and a customer for a long time. Could you tell Samuji Friends a bit about yourself and how Samuji has become a part of your life?
P: I'm a 40-year-old photographer and a mother of three from Helsinki. We live in Kruununhaka, where Samuji Shop is also now located. I have been working at Sanoma Studio for ten years now, and I primarily shoot portraits and fashion, including for Gloria and Me Naiset magazines.
I saw a small documentary on Yle TV (Finnish Broadcasting Company) a long time ago where Samu-Jussi Koski, the founder of Samuji, talked about his day and his work as a designer. It piqued my interest. I was curious about how clothes are made and how all the steps happen nearby. Of course, as a visual person, I fell in love with the brand's visual world, which has also inspired me in my work. The strong ambiance and kindness of Samuji have always been reflected not only in the clothing but also in the images and spaces. Sustainability has always been present and intriguing at Samuji.
A-M: Strong values have always been the starting point of my design philosophy as well. Do Samuji have values beyond sustainability or other qualities that particularly resonate with you?
P: I feel Samuji clothing is for strong and thoughtful women. When I was younger, I used to enjoy wandering around the city and visiting various stores. However, with the beautiful images associated with Samuji, I began to appreciate clothing more and started making planned purchasing decisions in advance. Brick-and-mortar stores are still important because I like to feel and see the materials in person.
A-M: I, too, believe in material-centered thinking. It's important that there is a physical place where we can experience the materials we choose.
You've also mentioned making friends through Samuji. Could you tell us where and how you've met these friends?
P: The stores have been a good meeting place, of course, as well as at events and with the people behind the scenes through my work. I also know some of the current team members, as I got to know them earlier. Samuji has consistently brought together interesting and good people and created a positive atmosphere.
A-M: You're a Photographer. When did you start taking pictures or gained interest in it?
P: I started when I was in high school. I got interested during a photography course and darkroom work. I was contemplating for a while whether I was more interested in writing or photography. After high school, I worked in London for a year, and then I attended a small photography school. After that, I finally studied photography at the Lahti Institute of Design.
A-M: Has your interest in art and creativity been present since childhood?
P: As a child and teenager, I was more into drawing and painting, writing, and creating my own magazines with friends, depending on our interests and enthusiasms, like animals, for example. These magazines featured comics and stories, and we sold them for a few marks to afford trips to places like Linnanmäki amusement park. With my best friend, I even created a book series where we reflected on our dreams. Even in my early teens, I made a magazine where we shared our awaited crushes. Narrative storytelling has always been important to me in one way or another.
A-M: I definitely share your passion for animals and writing! I used to keep notebooks filled with stories when I was young and even wrote scripts. Later on, I've realized that my passion for storytelling has always come naturally to me. Nowadays, it manifests in my work through clothing design, materials, and visual imagery.
You are a visionary through your photography work. You mentioned the archipelago and its narrative quality. What role does literature or storytelling, as well as the sea, play in your life?
P: I love literature and the Finnish language. I don't find enough time to read as much as I'd like because I want to fully commit to my children right now. When I do have free time, I enjoy the sea as a landscape, being by the water, and the sense of unhurriedness it brings. The sea and its vastness are fascinating. In the face of the sea's enormity, one feels their own smallness and sensitivity.
A-M: Do you have a specific Samuji piece that you could name as your favorite, and does it come with a particular memory?
P: I'm not particularly good at defining favourites because there are so many things that interest and matter to me. However, one noteworthy mention is that I got married in a Samuji outfit! The outfit included a light-colored skirt and a silk blouse. I justified buying the skirt by saying, "I can get married in this." We had a small celebration with family, and the next day, we went out to eat with friends, and even then, I was wearing a Samuji dress.
My eldest child also wears my old Samuji clothes. I appreciate that the clothes are made to be worn and enjoyed, and one shouldn't be overly afraid of wear and tear.
A-M: Wow! A wedding dress is considered one of the most important outfit choices in our lives. It's incredible that Samuji has been a part of such a memorable and beautiful moment in your life! Your wedding sound lovely!
What are your thoughts on the Samuji friendship and the sense of community around the brand?
P: It's unique that a clothing brand can create such strong feelings. It has always been clear that there are good people behind it. Even after a change in ownership, the brand has maintained that lovely Samuji spirit. Taking a moment to pause, the materials, authenticity, surprises, art, kindness, storytelling.
The Samuji Second Hand group on Facebook has also been an important connecting factor for me with Samuji. As soon as it was created, I joined the group, and sales started happening. It's still an important channel for me to sell used Samuji clothes. I had a lot of memories of the collections and plenty of Samuji items, so being part of the group was significant to me. As an admin, it's wonderful to see how the group functions smoothly on its own. People connect without any specific rules, engage in trade, and have conversations in a positive atmosphere, which says a lot about Samuji friends in my opinion.
A-M: I'm in complete agreement with you, and on behalf of our entire team, I can say that we all share this love for community and Samuji! Thank you, Päivi, for your long-standing Samuji friendship and our conversation today. Would you like to send a message or greetings to other Samuji friends?
P: It's been wonderful for me to see that Samuji has found trustworthy and loving hands, and there are many familiar faces both among the creators and the customers. Samuji has strongly helped me discover my own style and reinforced my interest in craftsmanship and domestic products. Through Samuji, I've learned to look at the visual world with a more discerning eye, and it has helped me appreciate materials and clothing.
Thank you, Anne-Mari.