Lenita Airisto M.Sc.(Econ.), business leader, promoter of Finnish industrial and cultural exports, TV journalist, razor-sharp debater and author.


Lenita Airisto began her public career while still at school when the Disabled War Veterans’ Association of Finland nominated her ‘Suomen Neito’ (Maiden of Finland). Her duties involved raising funds for the rehabilitation of men who had been severely wounded in the Winter War (1939-40) and Continuation War (1941-44), to help them return to normal life.

Maiden of Finland and Finnish top model.

 


The austere beauty of Finnish design prompted a strong emotional response in buyers abroad, and they wanted to learn more about Finland. This age of aesthetics gave Lenita Airisto the building blocks for a new business idea whose core was the efficient marketing of the image of Finland, made up of our culture, design and industrial products, through visual multimedia.

 


Creative Finland and Success Story Finland World Tours 1982-1990.

Airisto Oy, the company set up by Lenita Airisto, produced, designed and carried out export promotions for both individual companies and the export industry in general. The first promotion campaigns aimed at the international media and customers were organized in the 1960s.

Finnair and Nokia open new gateways to the world.

Going from strength to strength, Airisto Oy found itself producing world tours of rock concert proportions towards the end of the millennium, such as Creative Finland and Success Story Finland.

SUCCESS STORY FINLAND world tour.

The SUCCESS STORY FINLAND world tour received extensive media coverage.

The SUCCESS STORY FINLAND show, designed and directed by Lenita Airisto, was also a hit in China, being covered on the national TV news and in the print media.


The Maiden of Finland Birthday Party with zero budget on YLE TV1 and YLE TV2 was created with Lenita Airisto’s ‘recession-killing exercise’, an attempt to raise spirits and promote entrepreneurship. A 2.5-hour live show on YLE TV1 and TV2.

The debate on the letters pages of newspapers and the YLE switchboard came to a head in 1992 when YLE broadcasted on both TV channels SUOMI-NEIDON SYNTYMÄPÄIVÄT TALKOO-GAALA (Birthday of the Maiden of Finland, volunteer gala), a 2.5-hour extravaganza organized by Lenita Airisto on a zero budget, with Mrs Tellervo Koivisto, the wife of the President of the Republic, as its patron.

The "Volunteer Gala" was a carnevalistic attempt to raise spirits and promote entrepreneurship. Despite its light-hearted nature, it was a serious effort to strengthen the resolve and initiative of Finns. “Finland has everything: raw materials, know-how, professionals and entrepreneurship. Let’s stop complaining and twiddling our thumbs and get to work,” Lenita Airisto declared.

Watch the video


 

 

Lenita Airisto has been nominated Woman of the Year for her business achievements, and she has been decorated with the Knight, First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland.

 

Airisto Oy also produced marketing tours for the Finnish fashion and tourism industries on the Finnish and Scandinavian market for a period of 20 years. These Lenita Fashion and Travel Shows were at the cutting edge for their time in their use of multimedia technology and in their production values.

Images of the LENITA FASHION AND TRAVEL SHOW touring in Scandinavia

Black or colour?




 


Beauty has been of special importance to Lenita Airisto’s five-decade career. She valued beauty in the privacy of her childhood home just as much as she has done later in the public eye. Working as a fashion model gained her the financial means for pursuing academic studies in Finland and abroad; and when Finnish society transformed itself from wartime austerity to an innovative and brilliant success story, she found the export market for Finnish Design an excellent international business opportunity for her language skills and commercial training.

Launching of the Revontuli collection in the USA. The Finnish design fashion show leaving for a tour of Europe.

In January 1966, senior industrialist Valdemar Jensen, managing director of Suomen Trikoo, the largest textile and clothing manufacturer in the Nordic countries with a workforce of more than 4,000, presented Lenita Airisto with an alluring offer. Suomen Trikoo needed a flagship collection to establish a ‘high design’ profile that the current fashion required. The idea was to market the new collection in Sweden and the USA. Lenita Airisto accepted and began to develop the REVONTULI (Northern Lights) designer collection with designers Nana Suni and Anna-Liisa Nieminen. She spearheaded the marketing effort for the collection on the west and east coasts of the USA and in Sweden. The range sold well for several years. Lenita Airisto terminated the REVONTULI agreement at the turn of the 1970s when Suomen Trikoo began to focus on exports to the Soviet Union instead of exports to the west.

A blaze of colour from the golden era of Finnish design and fashion in the 1960s returned in 2012 when Nanso signed an agreement with Airisto Oy, owner of the REVONTULI (Northern Lights) concept. Lenita Airisto became the creative coordinator of the REVONTULI by NANSO collection.



Revontuli by Nanso launch in Svenska Teatern 11.3.2013


Lenita Airisto designed and directed the launch of the REVONTULI collection in a multimedia extravaganza recalling the Lenita Show. Today’s top models gave a handsome outing to colourful outfits from the golden age of Finnish design in the 1960s.

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Helsingin Sanomat 7.3.2013.



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Why is Tampere not a fashion hotspot? asked journalist Juha-Veli Jokinen from the Aamulehti newspaper.

 


Lenita Airisto also draws on her extensive career in TV in her books. Before turning to writing, she was a TV journalist for more than 30 years and appeared on more than 300 prime time current affairs shows. She is indisputably one of the first TV personalities in Finland, and even today she is a significant opinion leader, controversial and admired in equal measure.

In a prime-time talk show on the NBC channel in the USA with Steve Allen, the creator of the Tonight Show.

Jatkoaika, still a living legend in Finnish TV. Together with Aarre Elo and Hannu Taanila. One of the guests in 1968 was Prime Minister Mauno Koivisto, who was elected President of Finland for two terms from 1982 to 1994.

Aarre Elo, the most innovative producer at YLE, developed an ‘open-ended’ late show format named JATKOAIKA (Extra Time, 1967-1969), which became a great success. It was in this show that Lenita Airisto finally came to be regarded as one of Finland’s first true TV personalities. She became a controversial and admired opinion leader. Jatkoaika is still a living legend in Finnish TV. Watch the videos.

 

The prime-time current affairs programme 7th Hour (7. hetki) on Channel Three featured guests such as Megatrend writer John Naisbitt, and Gennadi Gerasimov, Mikhail Gorbachev's first spokesman, followed by a heated debate on male chauvinism. Watch the 7th Hour programmes on the Lenita Airisto WEB-TV.

Lenita Airisto talks about current affairs series 7th hour.
WATCH THE VIDEO.

 

 

Lenita Airisto is a frequent guest on entertainment and current affairs programmes on TV. She is a straight-shooting debater who pulls no punches, and her no-nonsense style prompts admiration and aggravation in equal measure. This is the quality that earned her a spot on the list of FINLAND’S NATIONAL TREASURES published by the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. “These are the people who shake up Finland, raise us up beyond the mundane or make us laugh at themselves or at every one of us.” Watch a video of Lenita Airisto in action on the talk show KORKOJEN KERA (With interest) on Finland’s MTV3, hosted by Vappu Pimiä and Jenni Pääskysaari. Production company: Moskito Televisio.

 

Now active as an author and lecturer, Lenita Airisto makes use of her worldwide network of contacts in her books on globalization and international economic trends. She says: “A global marketplace is for receiving and exchanging new insights and visions.”

All of the publications of Lenita Airisto are now available as e-books for download to computers, smart phones, tablets and other reading devices.

Her books SUCCESS!, FEMALE ENERGY, EXTRA TIME and LONG LIVE SENIORS – 100 YEARS AND BEYOND! from the series BRAIN POWER FROM BEYOND, are available for sale in electronic form at Elisa: .




Watch the video: Erkki Tuomioja interviews Lenita Airisto on the MTV3 television programme KIRJAN TAKANA (Behind the Book).





 

Her influence is verified by a survey commissioned from Taloustutkimus in 2008, whereby she ranked among the ten most influential women in Finland. When the United Nation’s International Women’s Day celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011, Finland’s leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat published a list of the best 100 women in Finland to honour the occasion. ”We have sought to identify women who have been exceptionally successful in their careers and so served as examples, in addition to women who have worked in their lives to help others.” Lenita Airisto was ranked among the 100 best women. And when the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper asked its readers in 2013. Who are Finland’s national treasures? Lenita Airisto ended up in the top 50, between Permanent State Secretary, Ministry Of Finance, Raimo Sailas and rock musician Andy McCoy. This reflects her impact as an author and a lecturer.

She aims her message at the highly trained businesspeople of the new generation, taking her readers on a tour of the financial world and business culture in Finland, Europe, the USA, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and our neighbour Russia. Her inspiring stories of survival and success are punctuated by interviews with top experts, economists and politicians.

The core messages of her books are entrepreneurship, women’s rights, ageing of the population and benefiting from the global economy.

Her books are used as textbooks in schools of economics and other academic educational institutions. She is much in demand as a lecturer in Finland and abroad.

 

 

 

 

Juha Numminen is a seasoned journalist with an impressive career. His 34th book Lenita Airisto Close Up is based on extensive interviews and Lenita’s own vast archives.

”Nobody leaves me sitting at the back of the room. I shine like a beacon. I always come in through the main entrance.”

Beautiful, elegant and a self-assured high flyer? An intimate portrait by an experienced journalist uncovers unexpected qualities in Lenita.

Non-fiction writer, TV personality, an entrepreneur with an impressive track record in international business, former Maiden of Finland, and a star model who ‘works and lives like a man’. A woman for intelligent men and a true feminist. Staunchly conservative. This is Lenita Airisto - and a lot more! While everybody knows Lenita’s unbridled female energy, overflowing temper and piercing laughter, she has kept her private life very much to herself. Now she minces no words in recounting her wonderful story from war-time childhood to the present day with its passions, emotional upheavals, victories and losses. As outspoken as ever, she assesses her human relationships with the same frankness as she judges herself. She is at her cruellest – and most delightful –when discussing the men in her life.


Finland’s Pippi Longstocking Close Up

Funny, jazzy, maddening, exciting, tiresome. Juha Nummisen’s authorized biography of Lenita Airisto is very much like its target - as she herself puts it: “I work and live like a man!” That may be true. Nobody would have succeeding in staging an immense export show in the holiest of holy places in China – the Great Hall of the People – with just gorgeous eyelashes and a close-fitting business suit. Lenita did.

- Talouselämä Magazine, Hanna Säntti


A world-class beauty with a brilliant mind? A bullhorn camouflaged as a gooseberry bush? Lenita Airisto has been part of Finland’s national treasures for half a century and still she succeeds in provoking, amazing and charming people.

- Helsingin Sanomat daily , Veli Pekka Leppänen

"Lenita is a one-woman battle station launching grenades and missiles in every direction when necessary."

- Author Mauno Saari, YLE TV 1 / Reading Circle (Lukupiiri)

 

Where to buy: Suomalainen and Akateeminen online bookstores


Watch the video

Seppo Toivonen interviews Lenita Airisto


 

 

 

 

 

 




 



The first nude photo


“The economist Lenita Airisto uses publicity better than anyone else in Finland. Only once has her grip slipped from the reins of this beast. Only once has the publicity machine managed to use her 100% to its own advantage. Only once has she been helpless and unable to stand up for her rights. Only once has Lenita Airisto been unable to strike back, attack, paw the ground, strangle, crumple, break the necks of bloke editors, swear, cry in rage, lay charges, string Editors-in-Chief to the ceiling by their balls, demand public retractions, force confessions of wrong-doing.

It happened a very long time ago, on the first of January. On that day, a photograph was taken of the first baby born in that year. It was published the following day in the newspaper.” Thus wrote Juha Numminen in 1989, in a special publication celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Finnish Union of Magazine Editors (FUME).





"Iron Woman", "Woman of the Year", "Witch"


And Juha Numminen continues in the FUME 50th anniversary publication: “The Lenita Airisto we all know is a mixture of calculation, the ability to take advantage of those who take advantage of her, a networker, a brilliant tactician, a person of devilishly sharp vision and language…

She’s a blend of vanity, makes business with her looks, she’s a shockingly straight talker, has annoying self-confidence, promotes herself shamelessly, shows delicious self-irony, and inspires sensational gossip and gossiping sensations.

She’s a mix of brave business ideas, powerful sales and marketing, hard work, aggression, she’s critical of men but finds them useful, and has a burning ambition.”

Yes, yes, Juha Numminen I agree, but there’s so much more: the entrepreneur’s fearless risk-taking, the right investments, tireless marketing and round-the-clock work. It’s drawing up budgets and sticking to them. Setting targets and keeping to schedules. Trustworthiness, straight-forwardness and honesty.

It’s also the ability to admit mistakes. Survive failure. Cut losses. And get up to go forward again bravely. And it must still be added that the entrepreneur’s life is not for the soft and lazy, although in truth it is very rewarding as well.





"The long glance" and "The complete change"

“Lenita Airisto has been in the game for 35 years.

For 35 years she has been splashed on the pages of newspapers and television screens.

For 35 years she has been force-fed to the Finnish sense of style or been exemplary or horrifying or desirable or successful or independent or brave or intelligent or annoying or tomboyish or the model of a vain woman.

For 35 years she has been stared at, objectified, followed and hunted.

For 35 years she has been admired, envied, loathed and hated.

For 35 years Lenita Airisto has been gossiped and spoken about in every which way.

For 35 years they have wished her harm in hopes of a good story, or the opposite.

For 35 years the chinks in her armour have been wedged open, her shining surface has been scratched and her chaste public image has been stained.

For 35 years they have tried to trick her into revealing herself and her bottomless – her bottomless what? During these 35 years, Finnish society, the Finnish press, all the components of the engine of publicity, the habits and rules of journalism, general morality, the lines of good and bad taste have changed completely. But the one and only Lenita Airisto is still in the game. These have been fun, wild, tiresome, but most of all cruel years for all sides.”

All true, Juha Numminen! And I have also noticed that, more often than not, the stories written about me reveal more about the person writing them than they reveal about me.

In 1989 my own response to your FUME article about publicity was, among other things: “Courage sells well because it’s honoured. But pity doesn’t pay the bills.” What could one add to this now, in 2004? “My first 50 years in the public eye have gone like this. Thankfully, I have also had my privacy.”