Monday, March 1, 2010

A Creative Life: Kristiina

There is something incredibly synergistic about designer Minna Hepburn's work... Her adult collection (especially her spring/summer collection) takes me back to childhood summers. And her new collection of simply gorgeous children's wear named after her daughter Kristiina pleads "can I have that in adult size please?" It's been getting rave reviews and any little girl would be so lucky to romp around in one of her dresses. No doubt, her family, her life, and her little ones are inspiration all entwined and she's been gracious enough to let us peek into her "Creative Life" today. Thank you Minna!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you got started in fashion and apparel design... I was born in Finland, near the Russian border in a small town called Joensuu. I moved to London 10 years ago when I met a lovely Canadian guy, now my husband, Michael.
I initially studied International Affairs at Kings College London. The course was called War Studies, which in retrospect seem likes an odd choice giving my present career in Fashion!

I started my women's wear label called Minna while taking some time off and having my daughter Kristiina. It was initially a small collection tops that I got made locally. This was just meant to be a small lifestyle business but it soon started gaining a momentum when I managed to get my designs into high end boutique and they flew off the shelves. I realised that there might be more to this and decided to concentrate and work full-time to get the business up and running.
The women's wear collection really took off when we moved to London and showed it at the London Fashion Week.
Since then, it has been stocked at the best boutiques in London, Anthropology and I am now exporting to 6 countries. My designs have been featured in magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Easy Living, National Geography and Cosmopolitan.
This has all happened while moving and renovating houses and having my son Hayden. I can’t say I have been bored lately!

How did Kristiina start?
My daughter Kristiina is now 4-years old and she has been the inspiration to my children's range. The children's range has been a labour of love and I have been thinking about cute designs that would work on little girls for a some time now. It’s is important that the kids range will complement my women's range and I feel like I have succeeded.

It has taken some time to source vintage fabric suppliers and get all the little details right that makes the collection so special.

We have our big launch next week in a shop on Ledbury Road, which is a very fashionable road in London's Notting Hill. Shop is called Wolf& Badger and I am so excited to be part of this new shop.
We will also be stocked at my favourite shop for all fashionable moms-to-be called 9 London
where we offer customers a service where they can choose a fabric from our selection or even bring their own vintage fabrics and we make them into cute jackets.

What inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere. In fact, I am so full of ideas that I should be writing them down constantly as my life is so busy and I often forget things after 5 minutes. London is a great place to find inspiration. It is so full of talented people and they are no rules, anything goes!

I personally draw inspiration from interior magazines, books and my absolute favourite source of inspiration are vintage markets and travelling.I am most creative in the morning after having my first cup of coffee.

How do you balance career, design and family life? What are the greatest rewards and challenges?
I struggle every day. My son is still so young and stays at home. I only have a nanny twice a week, which means I often work until 1am. My daughter also started school so we are busy in the afternoons doing all sorts of activities.
Running a fashion label also sounds glamorous but it is anything but. I often end up doing anything starting from hand finishing the pieces, packing up orders and dealing with multiple suppliers and seamstresses.

The actual fun part, which is designing only counts less than 10% of my time. All the other work need to come first.

Obviously the advantages are that I am my own boss and can pick my hours. The downside is that I am always working.
The rewards are great, when good things happen such as getting a great new stockist or good piece of PR.

Tell us what a typical "day in your life" is like!
I get up with the kids between 6 or 7am. It is breakfast, get Kristiina ready to school and at my computer by 9am at the latest. If my nanny is coming it is solid work from 9am until 5pm. No breaks. I will try to organise all my important meetings and shopping trips on those days but obviously it is not always possible.

If my nanny has a day off, Hayden comes with me and I am armed with tons of snacks, all sort of entertainment and dummies. It is such a hard work bringing him to the meetings and I am sure he feels the same and wants to be running around and doing things that little boys love doing.

Evenings are family time, dinner and more work. I am trying to get back into a good exercise routine but it is so hard. Without my blackberry and netbook I would be completely lost.

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