Liam James Doyle
Minneapolis designer Lisa Hackwith creates rare garments — she never sells more than 25 of each piece — giving every customer an exclusive look.
With an educational background in studio art, Hackwith began selling her creations on an online Etsy shop in 2010. Four months later, she took the leap and established her boutique, Hackwith Design House.
The brand is known for chic and easy silhouettes in basic textural fabrics.
“They have a simple, clean aesthetic but are very aware of trends without always following them. It always feels contemporary and fresh,” said Joshua Sundberg, co-owner of ClichÃ© in Uptown Minneapolis.
Hackwith is a key player in the Minnesota fashion scene, creating looks that are a part of the global market.
Sundberg said he’s known Hackwith for years. During that time, he said, she’s become an increasingly strong influence on local fashion.
“Rather than imitating the fashion world, she is creating it,” Sundberg said.
The A&E fashionista sat down with Hackwith for a Q&A about her design house:
How did you get your start in launching a brand?
I taught myself to sew after I graduated from college with a studio art degree. I took a year off to research MFA programs when I discovered my medium —designing and making clothes.
For [the] next five years, I sewed daily. I had success with my Etsy shop and getting wholesale orders. But in order to make my business sustainable, something had to change.
In February 2013, I took a few months off to rework my business model; I re-launched Hackwith Design House in September 2013.
The new model centered on my priorities: staying in Minnesota, manufacturing clothing in the U.S. and making sure I love everything with my name on it.
Thus the limited-edition model was born: Two to four designs are released every Monday, no more than 25 pieces of each.
Since September 2013, I’ve hired four seamstresses and have partnered with Erin Husted to run operations. We’ve also added two new lines, HDH Basics and HDH Swim.
How would you describe the design aesthetic of Hackwith Design House?
Our goal is to make simple, beautiful, quality clothing. I design with the idea that women’s bodies are as diverse as their skills, talents and accomplishments.
I want my customers to feel comfortable and confident in the clothes they buy from me so that they can focus on the more important things in life, like performing well at work, connecting with friends or enjoying a night out.
Do you take any inspiration from Minnesota or the Twin Cities?
I love that we share the studio with other small business owners. It is invaluable to be surrounded by so many other hardworking, creative people. Sharing space encourages sharing ideas, along with sharing each other’s successes and struggles.
It is so important to find a community that supports you as you attempt to do something as ambitious — and a little crazy — as running your own business. We have found that in Minnesota, we could not be happier.
What do you like about serving local consumers?
The people who live here have a real passion for supporting small business owners. It’s very encouraging to live in a city that wants to support local artists, makers and small business owners. I love being a part of this community.
How to you hope to grow or expand as a label in the future?
We are currently discussing what our next line will be and figuring out the logistics for that launch.
We are also working to add to our current lines by creating more swimsuit designs and finding the perfect source of fabric for the Basics line. We are also moving into a new studio space that will, literally, give us room to grow.
—Hackwith’s responses have been edited for accuracy and clarity.