INTRO: Hackwith Design House is the brainchild of Minneapolis-based artist and designer, Lisa Hackwith. She went to fine art school and taught herself to sew shortly after graduating. What began as a past time became an Etsy shop, and eventually, a career. Lisa describes her first sewing experiments as, "finally finding the right medium." The mission statement on the Hackwith Design House website is a really eloquent representation of the passion and point of view behind the work. This particular sentence sums up the core of their process:
"We begin with a sketch, handpick fine fabrics from all over the world, and then sew the piece in our Minneapolis Studio. We want these pieces to be special and we want them to last, so we make sure that the quality of our garments is outstanding."
In college, Lisa focused on multimedia, conceptual art. She planned to take a year off after school and eventually go to graduate school, but picking up sewing as a hobby changed her course. When she became really busy with the Etsy shop, she chose to take a step back and refocus by reading a lot of books. This gave her the space and perspective she needed to take the next leap.
Lisa launched Hackwith Design House solo in 2010, and her team is gradually growing. In January 2014, she hired a business partner and two seamstresses. This allows her to focus energy on designing and making samples, which are her favorite things. Practices from her fine art background, like numbering prints, inform her current business practices. Each piece in the shop notes how many total were produced.
She works in an collaborative space with three photographers and two creative consultants. It's a space that allows for consistent inspiration and discussion. She enjoys the benefits of working around other people who are getting things done and pursuing ideas.
Over the years, Lisa has experimented with different creative processes, and the majority of her time requires alternating between the computer and the cutting table. She prefers to begin at the fabric store, where she feels the most excited and creative. It isn't uncommon for her to find fabric that speaks to her and design around it. The practice of regularly keeping sketchbooks also informs the process.
The Makers Alongside project is an opportunity for Lisa to collaborate with other creative individuals and learn about their crafts. She collaborates with each maker to design a limited edition product that fits both parties' aesthetics. These products are then exclusively sold through the Hackwith Design House store. She is currently working with two individuals per month, and many of them are Minneapolis-based. "My favorite moments are when we get to meet and chat with the makers. I love getting to know other small business owners and artists who are making a living doing what they love." Check out this post about Leather Works Minnesota to get a feel for the project.
Lisa and her team also recently launched a line of wardrobe staples called HDH Basics. "We love being able to keep something on the website all the time while still staying true to our goal of having new, unique pieces on a weekly basis." The basics will always be in stock and can be worn on their own, or in addition to the other artful pieces. When speaking of the thought behind the basics line: "Most of us are familiar with that shirt or dress that brings out our individuality, making us feel most like ourselves, most at ease. With such a piece, we are able to go confidently through the day while focusing on the more important things in life: performing well at work, connecting with friends, or enjoying a night out."
Music is always playing in the co-working studio, and Lisa enjoys hearing what her studio mates choose for listening. When designing, she prefers complete quiet. When sewing, she recommends the podcasts: How Did This Get Made, Radiolab and Comedy Bang Bang.
Because Lisa originally began sewing as a past time, she taught herself a lot of what she knows. Her words of wisdom for people considering a similar path: "Don't be afraid to ask for help and advice. Take advantage of online tutorials and keep working at it no matter how many mistakes you make."