Talking Shop, Motherhood and Magic with California’s Coolest Designer
If you could personify the best parts of the West Coast — welcoming, warm, free, a creative joie de vivre that makes you feel like you can conquer the globe — then you’d get Heidi Merrick. As a Los Angeles-based fashion designer, her line evokes a simplicity that can only come through talent, through an ability to take delicate, feminine forms and preserve them so that they’re universal.
Heidi’s also careful to preserve the deeper aspects of who she is as a woman, too. While her success as a designer isn’t something she holds lightly, it’s easy to see that her roles as a wife and mother of two (not to mention as daughter of iconic surfboard shaper Al Merrick) never take second place. And while we know it’s a myth to “effortlessly do it all,” we couldn’t resist chatting with Heidi to see if a little precious golden dust might just rub off.
This is California, after all.
Heidi shares more on her inspiration, balance and what it looks like to chase a passion, below:
Darling: What was your journey like to starting your own line? Has fashion always been your first love?
Heidi: Clothing has always been how I made a living — it just took me a long time to realize it was meant to be my trade and career. The line came more intuitively than I would have imagined. I started small — cutting, patterning and sewing everything myself and from there have let it grow naturally. The hardest growing pains are letting go of the skills you began with. I miss sitting down and sewing a dress from start to finish. The next dress I sew myself will be my daughter’s wedding dress.
Unless, I’m running a couture house, in which case I’ll let them do it. Smile, wink.
DM: What kind of woman do you design for? Where do you envision your line being worn?
Heidi: I design for women who love life and like to live it well.
DM: Who, what or where inspires you as a designer?
Heidi: I love women who are comfortable in their own skin, whether they are surfing or at cocktail party, they look like themselves. I think that’s an accomplishment. I always begin my design process asking myself what is beautiful to me, who do I want to be and what do I want to look like while I’m doing it?
Somehow, those questions allow a measure of fantasy, and I find that important in dressing and my collection in general. And then there’s nature, for every person, every conversation, every magazine, I need to replace that with time looking at the sky or the ocean. It resets me.
DM: Have you ever had a job that you didn’t love? What did it teach you and how long did you stay there?
Heidi: I once did a commercial, as an actress. I worked all day and as I drove away from the lot I called my dad. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I told him I waited around all day for direction I neither cared about or understood. I told him I believed I had more to do and give, and I told him I was unhappy. I told him so I’d be held accountable to my hopes. I made thirty thousand dollars on that commercial and it wasn’t worth it.
I love women who are comfortable in their own skin, whether they are surfing or at cocktail party, they look like themselves. I think that’s an accomplishment.
DM: Your new studio is beautiful; light, and airy — it really captures the Californian spirit. What do you think makes the Golden State so inspiring to artists and creatives?
Heidi: Thanks for saying so. I think the lifestyle is so beautiful here in California and we all know and value it. When you are living a life you love, it seeps into your work and creativity in general, then it thrives and grows there. I know I’m much more myself when I’ve been in the ocean or the fields — I think it’s the Walt Whitman effect.
… for every person, every conversation, every magazine, I need to replace that with time looking at the sky or the ocean. It resets me.
DM: Where do you think the line exists between hard work and perseverance, but also stepping out before you’re 100% ready and chasing a dream in faith?
Heidi: Such a good and cool question. I think the idea of perseverance is one to be careful about. In that, often times you see something outside of yourself and run towards it and then, just keep running. It’s important to stop and assess if what you are pursuing is what you truly want.
Hard work is an ebb and flow — when you love your work it often feels like nothing. Inevitably, it will get hard, knowing and expecting that is just wisdom. In terms of stepping out before you’re ready, well, one is never ready. Stepping out is necessary for any success, any dream, any good and any belief.
DM: How do you find that elusive balance between being a mother, wife and entrepreneur?
Heidi: Ha! It is elusive. I don’t know really. I’m happier, more productive, more in love — I’m sure it’s my children. They make everything so funny and add so much light. Seeing your child’s face can quickly align you with all things good and true. I’ve had an amazing example of parents who lived their dream and kept us together as a family. I think it’s the greatest gift I’ve been given. That said, I’m careful not to let my business define me. That can quickly confuse you about life.
DM: What would we be surprised to know about you?
Heidi: I believe in magic.
Shop all of Heidi’s designs online HERE, or visit the new H. Merrick of California boutique located at 115 W. 9th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Images via Nicole LaMotte