Flame-haired Minna Parikka, the Helsinki-based creator of seriously playful and very beautiful shoes, gloves and bags worn and carried by global style mavens and sirens, talks Lady Gaga, orange mock-croc and living in a doll’s house.
How does your working day begin? With a huge pot of fresh ginger and lemon green tea and 100 sit-ups. No day is the same, though. I travel a lot for work and, besides designing, I get to do everything that is needed to run my own brand. So that could be a photo shoot, tradeshow, meetings, decorating my shop window, braking shoes and making masks out of them, accounting, drawing or booking flights for my next trip.
What’s your studio like? I have spent 10 days in Helsinki in the last two months and I will be moving to London for a while in March. So my studio travels with me wherever I am.
Do you like working with other people in a buzzy environment, or do you prefer going solo? I do all the design work and creative directing on my own, I have never even had a design assistant. I like to have my own space and be with my own thoughts. On the business side, I definitely prefer it buzzy.
Describe your signature style. Fun, flirty and feminine. Strong use of colour combined with playful themes and dominant detail.
What’s your process, where do you tend to look for design inspiration? I travel a lot, meet other designers, love shopping for designer clothing, go to museums and galleries, hang around with my friends, enjoy cities as well as nature activities. Active life gives the best inspiration for me to create new things.
Who have you seen wearing your shoes and you’ve thought, ‘yes, that’s who I design for’? I love it that there is somebody like Lady Gaga who is doing something over the top in this time when many things seem so mediocre. It was such a privilege to make a one-off shoe mask as well as design the official double platinum award for her. But my main line is more for a woman like you or me who wants beautiful things with wear ability to cheer up her day.
You’ve known since a teenager that you wanted to be a shoe designer, when was the point that you thought ‘my dreams are coming true’? Firstly when I moved to England to study shoe design in 1999, secondly when I started my own company in 2005 and thirdly every time when somebody tells me that they are a fan of my work.
You were born in Helsinki, studied footwear design in De Montfort University and lived in London, Milan and Barcelona before returning home to launch your company. What inspiration have you taken from each place? Helsinki has given me a safe platform for growing up and growing as a designer. London has given me the interest in fashion. Milan taught me how to run a shoe business and Barcelona how to take it easy, enjoy life and party.
And which city is the most stylish (no pressure)? London without any doubt. I love the vibrant buzz and eccentricity of the city. You can meet people from everywhere and with any style. For me stylish nations are uninteresting. It’s the creativity and expression of personality that makes places entreating.
Do you have a favourite piece from your new spring/summer collection? My favourites are a mint green ostrich replica leather block heel sandals and a matching clutch with pink flower details and vibrant orange crocodile replica leather stilettos with heart decorations and a matching clutch. I would wear them with a big smile on my face since I am sure it would be a great party where I am going with those on.
What do you love doing when you’re not working? I lead an active life that is full of contrast. My brand universe is girly and feminine so on my free time I need to have some masculinity. I ride a cherry-red Royal Enfield motorbike and do kickboxing.
What’s your home like? My flat in Helsinki is like a little dollhouse. Winters are so long and dark here that for me it’s important to have a very untypical Finnish home with loads of colour and pattern. It always feels like summer in my place.