Meet Minna Hepburn, the beautiful mind behind eco-label Minna. She talks to me about inspiration, little girl’s dreams and country living.
Hello, please introduce yourself.
Originally from Finland, I came to England 11 years ago after meeting my Canadian husband in Helsinki. I have two kids to keep me busy- Kristina 5 and Hayden 2 and a very busy, growing fashion label.
What’s your background?
I think I have been a bit of a late bloomer. I did my undergraduate degree at Kings College London in War Studies with an interest on international relations, US Defence Policy and NGO work. I worked briefly in the City and then travelled around Asia before I started my previous Fashion label called SE1 London, that was stocked at Topshop. My current label Minna, was born exactly 2 years ago.
How did you start Minna?
I closed down SE1 when I became pregnant with my daughter and took two years off and just focused on being a mommy while living in Dorset. I embraced the country living, rode my horse and spent loads of time at the local antique markets, of which there were plenty. At least one every day!! I got to know all the grannies selling the most beautiful lace and vintage bits and bobs. I was so inspired and started putting together a business
plan, researching ethical fashion and textile suppliers. This time I wanted to be able to manufacture in the UK, use as many UK textile producers and combine as many ethical and sustainable fabrics as possible. My label Minna is the exact opposite of my previous label, which I manufactured in Vietnam. Minna is all about slow fashion, mixing new fabrics with vintage textiles, produced in London by skilled seamstresses and sold in high-end shops. We have been showing our collection at Estethica which is part of London Fashion week since 2008. It has been an amazing platform to start my label.
What inspires you?
A lot of my inspiration comes from reading books, especially photography and interior design. I love beautiful fabrics and usually when I see the fabric itself, I can picture the collection coming together. That is why I
use lace all the time as I love the texture and the hand-made look of it. I love small details, which I am trying to incorporate both into my collections and how I decorate my house. Fashion these days is all about quick turnaround times and margins so little time is spent on those little things that can make pieces special. That is why I love vintage clothing as often those little details are still there. It can be a small detail on a stunning vintage garment that gives me the inspiration to my collections. This season, it was the small bow that I bought in Dorset years ago that we used as an inspiration for one of our tops. I also love to travel and do people watching. I love sitting in a cafe and just watching the world go by. These short moments are so rare these days as two kids keep my life so busy. Finding time to be inspired and to work with my new collections is so precious and rare these days so I grab every opportunity I can.
Who is the ideal Minna woman?
We are not about trends or seasons. We are about creating stunning pieces so our ideal customer is someone who appreciates this fact. Our impressive eco credentials have also brought a host of new clients who are interested about ethical fashion. One of our fans, Laura Bailey is a true Minna girl with an interest on ethical fashion and loves vintage. For me fashion is not about trends but finding your own individual style and those are the people who we design for.
Can you tell me more about your creative process?
Chaotic and unorganised! Most of my time goes into running the production, sorting out orders, doing pr, sales and managing staff. Little time goes into designing so I have very little creative space. I pretty much design
year round and most often my collection started with one piece and the rest of the collection designed around it. We are all about little details, it can be a button, embellishing or a colour of the stitch. I often incorporate my vintage market findings into my collections. This year it was an old silk and lace bow that we used as an inspiration to one of our tops.
I am also very lucky to have one of my best friends working with me. She is amazing technically whereas I am more about the business and creating the bigger picture. I also work with very talented students and one of them
is now a key member of my team. For me, fashion is about a group of creative minds working together. We can often turn pieces we are skeptical about into one of the strongest pieces in the collection!
What was your little girl’s dream?
I was such a pony girl and still am. All I wanted to do was to hang around stables and work with animals. I am still such a pony girl at heart and it broke my heart when I had to sell my horse a year ago.
What were you like as a little girl?
I hated dressing up pretty. All I wanted to do was to be a boy, run around and getting dirty! I must have been a headache to my mom who loved pretty things and loved dressing up me and my sister!
I was also such a dreamer with a wild imagination and talked non-stop. I do not think I have changed much!