HÄN meets with Mesimarja Paatero, the designer behind the inclusive yogawear brand to discuss all things yoga.
Yoga became an integral part of life in the big Western cities, Helsinki included, to the point that it would be tricky to find a person who has never tried the Indian practice. Along with it, come other methods of improving our well-being: kale rich yet everything free meals, juicing, meditation… In our ironically constant chase of mindfulness, the clean lifestyle starts to feel more like a chore than a self-benefiting choice. However, Mesimarja Paatero, a yoga teacher herself and now the creator of Ohx40 yoga line, wants to change these attitudes.
To our meeting, 33 years old Mesimarja (image above, on the left) comes with her younger sister, 27 years old Kaisa Paatero (image above, on the right). Both ladies from Turku are tall, blond and fresh-faced – exactly how you would expect someone who regularly practices health improving asanas to look. As we find out later, Kaisa with her Masters degree in Economics from the University of Vaasa, is the business mind behind her sister’s creative endeavours. Currently based in Helsinki, Mesimarja is finishing her second degree in Textile and Clothing from Stadin Aikuisopisto Education centre. When she graduates in June, the designer is planning to completely focus on developing her brand.
She first started creating yoga wear as part of her university project. But being a yoga teacher herself, Mesimarja quickly realised the future potential of her hobby. “I have my own beginner’s course ongoing at the moment and next week starts my other course”, says Mesimarja. “I also substitute for three different studios in Helsinki. But it will be part of my business as well that I will have a service as yoga and then the product”. In particular, Mesimarja would like to be able to provide the yoga wear suitable for different body types. Entering the room full of toned, strong people can be intimidating for someone who never tried yoga before, so the designer believes in the importance of making people feel included. “That’s exactly my basic idea because yoga is for everyone. ‘Every curve deserves to move’ is my slogan”, says Masimarja. “It’s easier for people to come to my classes when they know they are accepted”.
Mesimarja refreshingly calm and therefore traditionally Finnish attitude extends beyond the yoga classroom, when HAN asked the designer whether she meditates and eats healthily. “That is all part of yoga, but I am not so strict about it”, responds Mesimarja. “I think people should listen to their bodies and listen to themselves what they need. When you need rest, you should rest”. The same applies to healthy eating. “I eat everything. Sometimes I desire meat and I eat meat but I don’t like to eat meat every day and not even once a week. Sometimes I even go for a fast burger”, shares Mesimarja. “Same applies to everything in life. It’s better to allow and accept some faults than try to control everything. Life is about accepting the constant change and letting go of unnecessary control”.
No one is born perfect and Mesimarja’s own search for balance was as long as one would expect. She went to her first yoga class in 1999 and found it fascinating. However, she has been doing yoga on and off until two years ago, when she finally decided she wanted to learn it better. She signed up for a yoga teaching course with only intention to study the practice for herself. Ultimately, it is clear that Mesimarja’s healthy journey brought her a lot of joy, that she now wants to share with her customers. “Happiness starts when you know yourself better and people over 40-year-olds tend to do so. They are the main customer target group”, says Mesimarja. “Ohx40 is the abbreviation for ‘Of Happiness Times 40’. Basically happiness in forty different ways. It’s up to the customer’s imagination what these ways are”.
Right now Mesimarja is constantly refining her Ohx40 yoga line. “I do all the designs, patterns, cutting, sewing, everything. These are all from scratch made by me”, says Mesimarja. The quality of the material and the sustainability of the whole process is very important to the designer. “It’s UV protected material but I still have to test it how it works in the long term… I want to design quality clothes that you can use for a long time and that are actually fitting and are your favourite”, shares Mesimarja. “From the rest of the material, from the leftovers, I want to make some accessories, so that all the materials are re-used”.
In terms of colours and patterns, Mesimarja’s source of inspiration comes from her extensive traveling adventures, which, according to the designer’s sister, she experienced all over the world. “I was recently travelling in Chilli and Mexico, so I got it from there”, says Mesimarja, discussing the colour scheme of the precious first prototypes of her collection. “We’ve done our fair share of travelling. But definitely I love nature and I want to be in nature more so some private beaches, the woods, mountains are very nice and the finest place you can be”. The designer is also a huge fan of gardening, so the floral motives are particularly noticeable in her designs. Acting as an alternative to the all black leggings from the high street, bold shades of Ohx40 designs have a potential to instantly brighten even the cold wintery morning workout. Perhaps, we will give in to the yoga’s magic after all…
Words by Kira Kolosova.
Photography by Ali Aljanabi.
All the clothes are by Ohx40.