This mom of two kids launched her own shoe line after she found herself searching for a classic shoe that could take her from a hike to a preschool pick-up without sacrificing style. The result? A handsewn shoe company called @mrsphicks (it’s named after her twitter handle, and is pronounced “Mrs. P. Hicks”.) It doesn’t hurt that she’s already in the business– she and her husband Mac own Pierrepont Hicks, a company that designs classic/hip men’s ties, which had overnight appeal with the boutique menswear crowd when it launched in 2009. The couple now run both businesses full-time out of their three-bedroom cottage while chasing after their young daughters, Camille, 3, and Margaux, 1, who often come along for trips to the fabric store or a pop-up market.
Tell us what brought you to Minneapolis. I had always loved visiting Minneapolis, where Mac is from, and I knew we’d have to move to provide the best life for our future kids. I liked the idea of having the house, the dog, woods nearby…
What sparked the idea for @mrsphicks?
I like comfortable shoes, but I don’t want to look like a frump—I think it’s that basic. I always wore my Clark’s, and I love a desert boot. I’m into the beige or taupe shoe—what my friends and I like to call The Unshoe, because it helps elongate legs and seems to disappear. So I looked into designing my own styles, and asked Rancourt, a family-run company out of Maine, to make some samples. Since Pierrepont Hicks is the recognized name of our brand for men, I opened a Twitter account under my nickname Mrs. P. Hicks and it made sense to me to use that as the brand name for my shoe line so people could find it easily.
What’s the hardest part about running a family business?
Not looking at my phone. If I get an email that is urgent, I want to take care of it right away—but sometimes that’s just not possible. It’s important to me to put the phone down and focus on my girls… and I am getting better. I’ve found that if I answer emails after the kids are asleep, I’m a better mom and a better business owner.
You say @mrsphicks shoes are for the active woman. Is that how you would define yourself?
I think so. I am always walking everywhere I can and busy with my girls, and I don’t like to wear heels save for once or twice a month. I love my sneakers, but I’d rather not go get groceries in them… I play squash twice a week and try to walk around Lake Harriet as much as possible.
Why do you think you’ve gravitated towards men’s fashion?
I think menswear is clean and sleek… I love a popped collar, a bare ankle with a dress loafer—styles that are inherently menswear-based.
Who do you think has inspired your style the most?
Women from past eras: Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Lauren Hutton, Jane Birkin—the classic natural beauties. When I read I Heart Your Style by Amanda Brooks I was so inspired to refresh my closet… she is incredible. Her looks are so spot-on and so seemingly effortless.
Were you the fashionable girl growing up? No…
What was your style then?
I was raised on brands like Laura Ashley, J. Crew, L.L. Bean, and Brooks Brothers. I remember some creative experimentation: wearing my father’s cashmere V-neck sweaters in high school and cutting up one of my mom’s T-shirts to create a new look.
What’s our mom uniform now?
A skinny jean, my chukkas, and some layers on top like a long tank and a cardigan… My current favorite piece of clothing is my Apolis Chore Coat.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty regimen?
My one and only love is Santa Maria Novella’s Honeysuckle cologne. I put it on before bedtime because I saw Amelie do that in the film. I also use my Mia Clarisonic, and then slather on Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil. I’d say my mom-life has made me more efficient with beauty routines. I keep a set of tinted moisturizer, mascara, and lip gloss in a compartment of my car—and pony tail holders around the gear shift.
You feel your best when…?
The first hours of the day. I am a morning person all the way.
Tell me about having two daughters.
I’ve learned a great deal since Camille and Margaux were born. It’s interesting to watch a sister dynamic from above since I’m an older sister myself. I’ll hear the girls scuffle over a toy, and ten seconds later they’re cracking up. My sister Helen and I have the same dynamic now.
What do you love the most about living in Minneapolis?
I love my circle of friends in Minneapolis and the lifestyle we have here: walking around the lake, riding bikes out front, and grilling every dinner all summer long. On the weekends we go to the Rose Garden off Lake Harriet and we always hit the farmer’s markets—there’s a good scene for foodies here. I also like the quieter winter months, to be honest; it’s a nice time to hibernate and make fires.
What’s an activity you don’t really love, but do anyway because your husband or kids do?
Going to museums. I am kind of a museum whirlwind… I usually take like 15 minutes to waltz through — although I do adore The Walker and can spend some time there.
What are your favorite activities for freezing Minnesota days?
This winter it was making ice votives. We’d fill up balloons with water and put them outside for a few hours… When you open one up, it cracks and you can usually fit a little candle inside. I also like to snowshoe on Lake Harriet—when there’s enough snow.
What’s your lazy-day family ritual?
A walk around the neighborhood, donuts and coffee, reading on the sofa, and then watching movies…
How do you feel about screen-time for the kids?
I have PBS on when I need a few moments, and Camille watches stuff on the iPad, like Curious George or Caillou. I don’t have an issue with it unless it is taking up too much time, in which case I say it has to charge and I hide it away.
What’s the easiest dinner in your weeknight repertoire?
I make quesadillas with avocados, cheese, and whatever veg I can find in the fridge.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Animal Collective, Kate Nash, Theophilus London, Daft Punk
What do you read on a daily/weekly basis?
Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Magazine, Momfilter, East Side Bride, Vogue, Real Simple. For news, I honestly just scroll Twitter. Also, my latest obsession is the magazine Monocle online – they do really amazing work in their radio programming, Monocle 24; I leave it on in the background when I clean or play with the girls.
What are some of your favorite online shops and stops?
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and nags at you?
My basement is filled with stuff we need to sort through and get out of the house. I swear I will do it this spring. It drives me crazy.
Oh gosh… The Kardashian shows… And the occasional smoke when I’m out in New York City with old friends.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
I go to Party City and go a little crazy with the loot. I think when the kids are little it’s all about the decorations and goody bags. I always give one special gift, something like a vintage pair of clip-on earrings. Birthdays to me are for sugar and music and being silly with your family.
What has been your best family trip?
My mother’s side of the family is all based in the South. We travel to Morehead, North Carolina, every summer and it is my happy place. We just pile the beach toys in the wagon and walk down to the beach every morning, or go out on my Uncle Richard’s boat and tour the shores and little islands. There are still wild horses there. It is amazing. I plan to retire there.