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In the Studio with Hackwith Design House



Hackwith Design House's studio in the Comn.

Jahna Peloquin

2014 has been quite the year for Hackwith Design House. The Minneapolis-based clothing line by Lisa Hackwith, a 28-year-old, self-taught designer with an art school background, has seen exponential growth since it launched its e-commerce site last September. Since January, the company has added three full-time employees (plus a couple of interns), and last month it moved into a new creative co-op studio, the Comn. The brand is known for its easy, chic silhouettes in textual fabrications and neutral palette available in limited-edition runs on its e-commerce site, where Hackwith now debuts three to four new designs in runs of eight to 25 every Monday at 9 a.m., CST. By all accounts, Hackwith's ambitious business model has proven successful, with many of the designs selling out within hours of being made available.

Today, the design house launches a new collaborative capsule collection with maker-geared, e-commerce site Fine Life Co.--which is already quickly selling out--and on Wednesday, its ongoing, collaborative Makers Alongside Hackwith series releases a set of limited-edition porcelain nesting spoons with local ceramist Fringe & Fettle.

I chatted with the designer and Hackwith director of operations, Erin Husted, about their newly-minted studio space, the stories behind the brand and its Makers Alongside series, and what’s next for the ambitious designer.

The "Selma" dress by Hackwith Design House for Fine Life Co., $160. Photo courtesy finelifeco.com

Tell me a little about the space, the Comn.

Lisa: It came about last November when Rita from The American Edit and I were getting coffee together. I was like, I think I need a studio space, and she was like, I hate working from home, I would love a space where I can go in every day for a couple of hours and work. So it just spiraled from there--now there’s six of us. There’s three photographers, two blogger-consultants, then we have some other desk renters--one is a lawyer, one does web consulting, one owns an event service and one’s a videographer, so this is their home base.

How did Makers Alongside Hackwith come about?

Lisa: The way I work with boutiques is collaborating with them to make custom pieces, so I wanted to take that idea and implement it with other people who are making products. Eventually I’d love to get into selling more accessories and art goods, so this is a great transitional process. And we get to work with really cool people and collaborate with them--come up with the fun piece that’s theirs but tweaked a little to give it a design house feel.

Erin: It’s also a wanting to support makers that we know, or makers that we know their products and love them. So wanting to share the wealth, and get the word out on how great these people are and the products they’re making.

Set of limited-edition porcelain nesting spoons by Fringe & Fettle from the Makers Alongside Hackwith series, $48, available Wednesday, July 2 at hackwithdesignhouse.com/mkrs-alongside.

How did Hackwith get its start?

Lisa: I’ve been designing for almost five years now as Hackwith Design House. I started out doing wholesale to local boutiques like Parc Boutique and Cliché (both for which Hackwith recently produced exclusive lines); there were about ten boutiques total. It was just really hard. I wanted to stop and rethink. I’m self-taught and I sort of fell into it, and I felt like I’d been reacting that’d been happening--I’d never taken a break to think about what I wanted to do. So around this time last year, I took two months off, and read and researched and came up with a new business plan and came up with the idea to launch my own website. Instead of doing collections ahead of time, I’d do a small batch and sell them every week. My husband and I didn’t want to move, and I knew I could get fabric from SR Harris, so it was combining a bunch of things that worked for me and working the business around it.

Erin: It was definitely a one-woman show until this year.

Did you go to design school? What's your background?

Lisa: I have an art background, a studio art major. I started sewing a year after college--I taught myself. 2010 is when I listed my first item on Etsy.

Do you feel like your art background affected your designs?

Lisa: I think it influences the shape and the whole way I do my business and aesthetically see things, and my work ethic. In art school I was always taught if you’re stuck on an idea, just keep making, and the bad projects will be how you get to the great idea. So I’ve always had the idea of just keep going.

How did you two begin working together?

Erin: We went to college together. I had been going to law school in New York and moved back in the fall. I was job hunting and waiting to get accepted to the bar here, and one day she was like, "Can you help me package? I sold everything online and I don’t have time to package it all!" And over time, we realized, she needed someone to help her run things and do logistics. All the stuff that Lisa don’t have time to do because she’s designing and sewing full time.

How did you build your business?

Lisa: I knew when I launched I needed a good marketing strategy. I was gifting a new blogger every week the piece that came out that day. And then I had my own blog and was selling pieces there, putting traffic back to my website, and through Instagram. Just marketing it in the way that everything’s limited edition, they’re all special and unique and I’ll never make them again, so it’s like, I need it now, otherwise it could be gone. I think I just work with so many great bloggers. Like Kate Arends (of design blog Wit & Delight), she’s in the space with us, she and I had met the previous fall. She had seen my last collection, so she knew about me.

What’s next?

We’re doing the MN4MN show this fall. We’ll be showing about 20 looks--at least whatever hasn’t sold out! I don’t really sit and plan out a collection by season in advance. But after the fact, when each month’s lined up, it looks like a whole collection, which I like.

Shop Hackwith Design House and Makers Alongside Hackwith products at hackwithdesignhouse.com, and its collaborative line with Fine Life Co. at finelineco.com beginning today, and see Hackwith Design House at MN4MN on September 19 at the Shops at West End tents; for tickets and more information, visit mn4mn.com.

Above: Hackwith Design House's studio at the Comn

More local shopping news:

Now open: Lily Stan Studio: This week saw the launch of new clothing line Lily Stan Studio by Minneapolis designer Lily Harris. The handmade, limited-edition line is meant to be layered, seasonless and classic closet staples. [Read more: "First Look: Lily Stan Studio"] (Now available. lilystanstudio.com.)

D.NOLO Expansion: Shops-within-a-shop concept D.NOLO--short for Destination North Loop--is debuting two new in-store shops on Tuesday. They include 50th & France casual-chic shop Bluebird Boutique, which D.NOLO owner Veronica Clark says will focus on denim from J Brand and Citizens of Humanity, plus casualwear and coats from Vince and J Brand Collection. The second is Area, which will carry soft lines and footwear by Joie. (Opening Tue. D.NOLO, 219 N. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-584-3244, dnolo.com.)

331 Salon Grand Opening: Jon Oulman Salon closes shop above the 331 Bar in Northeast Minneapolis after eight years of business. In its place is the new 331 Salon. They’re open for appointments beginning Tuesday, July 1, and will host a grand opening day party on Monday, July 7, with $20 haircuts all day and complimentary wine and local chocolates. (Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays & 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays beginning Tuesday, July 1. 331 13th Ave. NE., Mpls., 612-331-3007, 331salon.com.)

Indigo & Snow Stars & Stripes Sale: This summer marks the two-year anniversary of local designer Annabella Sardelis' clothing and accessories line Indigo & Snow. The line, handmade by traditional shibori-dying techniques, celebrates Independence Day with a three-day sale; take 25 percent off everything in its Etsy shop with the coupon code "STRIPES". (July 1-3. etsy.com/shop/indigoandsnow & indigoandsnow.com.)

RedGreen Rivers Online Trunk Show & Night Market: St. Paul-based company RedGreen Rivers works with artisan makers from the Mekong region of Southeast Asia to create handcrafted goods, including home products, jewelry and accessories, that supports their communities. On Tuesday, July 1, they host an exclusive online trunk show (sign up at docs.google.com to receive an invitation). They're also participating in this weekend's Little Mekong Night Market, a night of traditional Asian entertainment, food and crafts. (Online trunk show Tue. Little Mekong Night Market: 5-10 p.m. Sat. Free. 400 block of University Ave., St. Paul. littlemekong.com/night-marketfacebook.com/RedGreenRivers.)

Max’s Semi-Annual Sale: The fine jeweler hosts its semi-annual sale with discounts of 40 to 80 percent off selected pieces from the shop’s jewelry, home decor and chocolates collections. This month, the store also introduces two new lines, the New York-based Ten Thousand Things and U.K.'s Deakin & Francis, plus new pieces from Anne Sportun, Rebecca Myers and Lauren K. (Tue.-July 19. Max’s at the Shops at Excelsior & Grand, 3826 Grand Way, St. Louis Park, 952-922-8364, stylebymax.com.)

Stephanie’s Progressive Summer Sale: Through the month of July, Highland Park store Stephanie’s is hosting its annual progressive summer sale: Take 20 percent off one item, 30 percent off two items and 40 percent off three or more items, plus an extra ten percent off if you mention Minnesota Monthly. (Excludes jewelry and select accessories.) (Now through July 31. 758 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul., 651-690-3802, stephaniesshop.com.)

MartinPatrick3 Summer Tag Sale: North Loop men’s and design shop MartinPatrick3 is in the midst of a summer tag sale with markdowns of 30 to 60 percent on select furniture, including Mitchell Gold, Bob Williams floor samples and stock, plus 20 percent off special order upholstery. (Now through July 27. MartinPatrick3, 212 3rd Ave. N. #106, Mpls., 612-317-0045, martinpatrick3.com.)

FinnStyle’s Marimekko Summer Sale: Local Marimekko retailer FinnStyle hosts its biggest sale of the year this month. Shoppers can save 20 to 70 percent on more than 300 Marimekko products spanning bed, bath, kitchen, dining, fabric, clothing and bags both in-store and online. (Now through July 20. 160 Glenwood Ave., Mpls., 612-333-2127, finnstyle.com.)

Cliché’s Annual 4th of July Sale: Hip Uptown shop Cliché hosts its annual 4th of July sidewalk clearance sale, with past season’s merchandise marked down 50 to 90 percent off plus racks from $10 up and extended hours. (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri. Cliché, 2403 Lyndale Ave., Mpls., 612-870-0420, clichempls.com.)

Double Peace Studio Vintage Sale: Double Peace Studio, handmade jewelry, art and found vintage seller, is hosting a pop-up sale with vintage record seller Yeti Records across from the Kingfield Farmers Market, with a mix of unique vintage clothing, jewelry, purses and shoes. Follow @doublepeace on Instagram for sneak peeks of the goods. (9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun. 4311 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., doublepeacestudio.com.)

Mille Summer Sale: Mille, which features a thoughtfully-curated selection of small designers and U.S.-made goods, is hosting its summer sale, with spring and summer merchandise marked 30 percent off online and in store. (Now. 316 W. 48th St., Mpls., 612-209-7364 & shopmille.com.)

Pumpz & Co. Summer Sale: Take up to 50 percent off select shoes, handbags and accessories, plus $25 and $50 surprises, at the Galleria designer haven. (Now. 3335 Galleria, Edina, 952-926-2252, pumpzco.com.)

The Annual John Fluevog Thinks You’re Awesome Sale: Take 60 percent off spring and summer footwear at the cult-favorite shoe shop known for its quirky, vintage-inspired designs. (Now. John Fluevog Shoes, 2900 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., 612-821-1970, fluevog.com.)

Flirt Boutique's Semi-Annual Sale: Parisian-styled lingerie boutique Flirt is hosting is popular its semi-annual sale this weekend, with 40 percent off nearly half of the store. (Sat.-June 29. Flirt Boutique, 177 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-698-3692, flirt-boutique.com.)

Now open: Shinola & Filson: Shinola’s first Minneapolis shop (its third brick-and-mortar) carries much of what you’d expect if you’re a fan of the e-store, or visited any of the company’s other locations: Shinola’s beautifully-crafted bicycles, leather-bound journals and leather accessories, watches galore, and quirky-cool giftables like a brass coaster set and bottle opener. A doorway connects Shinola to Filson, which carries reclaimed waxed-canvas bags, outfitted with new leather straps and hardware, as well as new bags, sturdy wool and flannel shirts, jackets and other essentials that are both timeless and au courant. [Read more: “First Look: Shinola's and Filson”] (Now open. 228 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-5493, shinola.com & filson.com.)

Now open: Idun: St. Paul's Cathedral Hill neighborhood is the site of internationally-minded, high-design boutique Idun. The shop carries a mix of goods that reflect the shop's minimalist aesthetic, with activewear-inspired detailing, luxe fabrics and clean silhouettes, including quintessentially-French line Bérangère Claire; minimalist Danish label Won Hundred; sporty, streetwear-influenced NYC line Nomia and Toronto-based contemporary sportswear line Priority of Ten. [Read more: "New Shop Alert: Idun"] (Open noon-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Idun, 495 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 610-745-7681, shopidun.com.)

Niki English Handbags Launch & Kickstarter: Two University of Minnesota alumni have joined forces to launch a new handbag line--with the help of Kickstarter. Their debut "Vertigo Collection" is said to be inspired by the streets and lifestyle of New York, offering a balance of function and style. [Read more: “Minnesota native Niki English "Kickstarts" new handbag line”] (Now available at nikienglish.com. Donate to the Kickstarter campaign through July 11 at kickstarter.com.)

Photos by Jahna Peloquin unless otherwise noted

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