A Minnesota Summer in Seven Pieces: hackwith design house

Thirty Two, Issue 4


It’s no secret that designers who focus on what really matters to them are the ones who find true creative success. Local fashion designer Lisa Hackwith, who started Hackwith Design House in 2010, is taking her work in a new direction, a move that was inspired by making clothes for her own closet in addition to her commercial work. Besides saving money by creating almost her entire wardrobe herself, she has found that focusing on what she loves has given her more direction as a designer. So this spring, Hackwith Design House is changing course. 

Traditionally Lisa has released twenty-piece collections, but her most recent one has been pared down to seven pieces that can be mixed and matched to create whole outfits, or stand alone as a signature piece. “Before, I’d always think about the boutiques I was sending my collections to. It influenced my designs, because I could picture them selling there,” says Lisa. “But for my spring collection I just did what I wanted and only did pieces that I could live in and that I would love.” 

Hackwith Design has gained an international audience with this collection, with most purchases made from Europe. However, it is Lisa’s local support and Midwest roots that she thrives on. With all of her family nearby and the backcountry only a short car drive away from her downtown St. Paul home, Minnesota was a natural choice, even though it is far away from the world’s fashion epicenters. 

In fact, it is the combination of her rural childhood and love for the city that inspired Lisa’s most recent collection. “For my spring line I had this idea of clothes that seamlessly work in the city and the country,” Lisa says. “My husband and I go to my parents’ cabin almost every weekend in the summer, so I kept picturing clothes that would work easily for both, from being at the lake to going to a farmers market downtown. I usually try to get a variety of tops and skirts and dresses and try to see the pieces working together.” 

Lisa loves working with soft fabrics and toned down colors: “Comfort is intrinsic in everything I make. Every piece I make tends to be something you’d wear a lot, over and over in many different ways. That’s why they’re a little bit more neutral or muted colors, because you can mix them with anything. Every piece I design is meant to become a favorite.”

Teaching Functional Art and Design: tandem made

Thirty Two, Issue 4


Nate and Erin Moren of Tandem Made—a design-and-build studio in Northeast Minneapolis—believe in the power of creating. They believe that a person’s environment affects his or her well-being. They believe that collaboration between artists and their communities has the power to create bonds of understanding and fill a basic human need. 

“Creating is something that clicked with me back when I was a kid,” Nate says. “From hammering nails into a piece of wood when I was little to creating pieces of furniture, it has always been with me. It’s how I communicate, and I couldn’t see it not being there. It’s part of me. It’s how I express myself.”

The husband and wife duo launched Tandem Made in 2011, turning their passion for good design and functional art into a custom and product-line furniture business. They also work with sculpture, cabinets, and household accessories.

As Minnesota natives, Erin and Nate find that their design aesthetic is influenced by the state’s mix of city culture and wilderness, resulting in a more subdued, classic design. “We go with the trends a little bit, but also try really hard to make pieces that are more timeless. We don’t want to make work that’s disposable,” Erin says. As makers who value sustainable design, the Morens believe they have a responsibility to give back to the community through education.

Erin’s passion for art education had led her and Nate to go into local schools to teach functional art and furniture design, and to collaborate with students to create pieces for their learning spaces. “Art really is all around you. It’s everything that you come into contact with. Teaching that to students really opens their eyes to the fact that even the most mundane things are designed by someone. Everything is here for a purpose, so being able to teach them about how you can change your environment to affect how you’re feeling is cool,” says Erin.

These kinds of connections with clients, students, and local businesses have proven to be the most rewarding aspect of the duo’s work so far. After seeing a client cry for joy over the beauty of a table they made, Nate and Erin knew that starting their own business had been worth the risk. “The greatest reward has been being able to work together this long and being able to be successful,” Erin says. “Seeing the look on people’s faces when we deliver pieces—that’s the best part for me.”

MidNorth Mercantile

Thirty Two, Issue 4

MidNorth Mercantile, launched in December 2012, is a curated vintage menswear shop located in Minneapolis’ North Loop. With classic, heritage-style pieces, from Woolrich parkas to denim and motorcycle jackets, work boots to varsity sweaters and flannel, the store features American-made clothing that has stood the test of time. “It’s all vintage, but it has a pretty new feel to it because it’s all in good condition,” says Mustache Mike, MidNorth’s barber and vintage buyer. “It just has that old feel to it, like something your dad wore or your grandfather wore. We try to keep the dad-style going.” True to form, MidNorth also features a classic, full-service barbershop in-house, including hot towel shaves and beard and mustache trims. Asked about what we’ll see next in men’s fashion, Mustache Mike says: “The good thing about vintage is that it’s never off-trend. Everything kind of comes back around. I think there’s going to be a lot more color and pattern going on this spring and summer. You’re going to see a lot more people coming out of their shell as far as colors, patterns, and textures go.”