The Midwest has long been dubbed “flyover country,” a wide expanse mocked as merely serving as the space between the coasts.
A new lifestyle website is out to challenge those perceptions. Christened The Flyover, the Minneapolis-based site cheekily nods to its unflattering nickname while presenting some of the best shops, designers, and style-makers the region has to offer while highlighting iconic styles and fashion histories that are quintessentially Midwestern. It’s the brainchild of Ellen Lawson, a graphic designer by day and the creator of Minneapolis street style blog The Minneapoline, which Lawson founded all the way back in 2006. During her tenure at The Minneapoline, Lawson’s photographs have been featured in Nylon, Essence, Lucky, Glamour.com, Star Tribune, and Vita.mn, where she has long helmed the street style page. With the launch of The Flyover, Lawson is effectively retiring the Minneapoline brand and starting anew, with a refined vision, expanded content, a larger group of contributors, and a broader scope of coverage.
[Read more: Local shopping news for the week of September 2-9]
I chatted with Lawson about her new website, which launched today at theflyover.com.
When did you first come up with the idea for the Flyover?
The idea has been in my head for a few years. I didn’t have a concrete idea of what I wanted to do at the time, but I knew I wanted to expand with what I already was doing with The Minneapoline. I’d just done The Minneapoline and street style for so long that I wanted to do something different. I got the idea for the name first, so I bought the domain last summer, so it was–well, I have to do this now.
Why did you decide to spotlight the Midwest on the site?
I wanted to do something Midwest-wide because I didn’t feel that there was anything like that out there. That’s why I started The Minneapoline–no one was doing it back then, but now there’s a ton of street style blogs out there. Over the past few years, so many new shops have opened in the region, so many designers and style bloggers are making a name for themselves here–it feels like things are happening here. People see piecemeal stories (about the Midwest) here and there, but there’s not one comprehesive place to go for things that are happening in the Midwest. I think there’s a national audience for it.
What kinds of content will the site feature?
It took a while to focus on what I wanted the brand or feel of the site to be, but I really wanted it to to focus on well-made things, and getting away from fast fashion. A lot of it’s going to be about what’s here in the Midwest, but there will also be articles that show how to care for clothing and jewelry so they’re around for years to come. I have Lauren Neal of Carrier Pigeon who’s going to do jewelry care. There will also be shop profiles, profiles of makers and jewelers, and studio tours, plus a regular feature called “The Ones That Got Away” about people who are originally from the Midwest who are doing cool things since moving away from home, including an interview with the former director of creative services from Harper’s Bazaar, Sam Griffin, who’s from Iowa. Some other features on the site will be “An Ode To,” an ode to different fashion items you generally see in the Midwest–the vintage Coach purse, tall leather boots–and look into the industry behind these items. And I hope to do a bit of a fashion history as a regular feature. We don’t always know the story behind certain iconic brands; I think it’d be nice to be educated on where the styles care from.
“The Ones That Got Away: Sam Griffin, creative director for Harper’s Bazaar” (Photo: Ellen Lawson)
You’ll have coverage from cities including Chicago, Kansas City, and Iowa, in addition to Minneapolis. Who are some of the people who are involved?
Natalie Gallagher is the Kansas City editor. She works as the music editor for Kansas City Pitch, and used to live in Minneapolis where she was involved with the fashion scene. Lacy Brunette, the Iowa editor, is a publicist and fashion event producer in Des Moines. Amy Gee, a photographer originally from Minnesota, is the Chicago editor. Colleen Eversman of 2nd Truth Photography is also coming on to do photography. Photographer Leslie Plesser, the former art director of Vita.mn, will be doing recipes with her own photography. (Her first post is for tomato and herb pasta salad.) Maggie LaMaack, a Minneapolis publicist and LOL/OMG! editor, will also be contributing.
Do you plan to expand to any other cities of the Midwest?
Yes, I’m definitely thinking Detroit for sure, and someone in Wisconsin as well. But I’m open to people from Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri reaching out. I’m open to anything in the middle of the country that feels overlooked.
Your graphic design background seems to be coming in handy. What kind of “look” are you going for with the site?
I wanted the site to be a little bit more of a neutral backdrop, something a little cleaner, so the photography and posts on the site would stand out. Just a nice modern look.
Did you build the site yourself?
I designed it. I started with kind of a WordPress template that I redesigned, but I did my own logo and the fonts.
What’s the fate of The Minneapoline? Will The Flyover have a street style component at all?
I’ll keep it up and have it redirect people to The Flyover, though I won’t be posting anything on it. There will be a street style component to The Flyover–both myself and Amy Gee in Chicago will be doing street style posts. Hopefully once it’s launched we’ll add some additional street style contributors in other cities.
What’s your vision for the site? What do you hope readers come away with?
I want them to fall in love all over again with their state, whether they’re still living there or they’ve moved away, so they can look back and see what’s going on there. And I also want to be aspirational in a way that is showing that you don’t have to buy the newest trend every single season, that there’s some timeless, beautiful, well-made things worth investing in.
The Flyover launches today at theflyover.com.
“Velvet Moon: Modern Bohemian in Minneapolis” (Photo: Ellen Lawson)
“Caring for Brass and Bronze Jewelry” (Photo: Ellen Lawson)
“Street Style: Brianna in Minneapolis” (Photo: Ellen Lawson)
“Recipe: Tomao and Herb Pasta Salad” (Photo: Leslie Plesser)