Meet Minna Parikka, The Helsinki-based shoe designer who founded her own brand in 2005, she is known for her fun and bold signature style. Minna’s iconic designs have been worn by Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Cara Delevigne, the Jenners and the Kardashians. Minna's shoes have conquered the world, empowering other women to be bold and express themselves.
Who is Minna Parikka? define yourself
Helsinki based nomad in a search for beauty and things that create emotions. It just happened that 15 years ago I started my shoe brand where I can do exactly what I want; create, feel and move around the globe.
How were you as a kid?
I was a total art and crafts nerd. I loved it all ceramics, enamel, candle making, woodwork, etc. As a teenager, I got into fashion in my quirky way. At the age of 15 I found shoes and realized I could think about shoes all day long as a profession and that is where it all started.
You are from Finland, I read that at the age of seven, you had already traveled to over 20 countries with your family, did that fact influence you to move to England to study footwear design? and then spent the next six years working and gaining inspiration in London, Milan and Barcelona?
I come from a restless family. We always had the next trip booked and leaving spontaneously is a norm. I learned that the world is small, interesting and to be discovered. After high school, it was clear that I would move abroad to gain experience and just to have fun too.
"I want to make everyday life more magical. Create things for women to wear that spark emotion. Nobody needs shoes like this but some women feel like they have to have them. I never wanted to create things that talk to the masses"
How did you jump from working for a company to finding your brand Minna Parikka in 2005?
At the age of 25 I had the urge to start up my own company. I felt that creatively I could not be myself as long as I was working for somebody else. It was the best thing even though for the first 3 years I was teaching myself how to run a business on my own.
You are a Helsinki-based shoe designer known for your fun and bold signature style. Your designs have been sold in over 100 stores globally including some of the best fashion retailers such as Selfridges, LUISAVIAROMA, Galeries Lafayette, Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Level Shoes and La Rinascente. What´s the recipe for your success?
Currently, I have made the decision that we will not be selling my designs to retailers. We are concentrating on our flagship here in Helsinki as well as our growing global website. I wanted to jump out of the crazy pace of the fashion business. This way I can be more free regarding design and react fast to what people want. Now I can bring new styles in 2-3 months instead of nearly 12 months if we would be selling to retailers.
You are famous for your Iconic bunny sneakers, lollipop heels, and many other dreamy designs, where these design ideas came from? what does it inspire you?
I want to make everyday life more magical. Create things for women to wear that spark emotion. Nobody needs shoes like this but some women feel like they have to have them. I never wanted to create things that talk to the masses. This aw19 ‘Let’s Dance’ collection is a tribute to David Bowie and his inspiring music. Every shoe has a detail taken from the song. ‘Break my heart in two’, ‘Put on your red shoes and dance the blues’, ‘Tremble like a flower’. It was the song was talking to me. It was the most exciting design process of my career. It felt like the collection just happened so naturally and I am very happy with the result.
Your designs have been worn by Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Cara Delevigne, the Jenners and the Kardashians and you have also received recognition in numerous global publications including Vogue, Elle, Numéro, Collezioni Accessori, Marie Claire, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia and Tatler. What have you learned over the years of working/ getting the attention of those important celebrities and publications? what does it mean to you as a creative?
I have learned that anybody can make it with the power of influencers and social media if they are capable to create something interesting that hits avoid. I am proud that my brand has been interesting enough to create a buzz. I have never been a fan of personality so sometimes it is difficult for me to understand the name of the game.
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
The best thing is that I do not have routines. My every day is different. This way I can stay creative and at least sometimes in my magic-filled beautiful bubble.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
I try to make my life look like my own. So I design collections that I love, I make business decisions that reflect what I currently want from my life. Next wear I am celebrating my 15th year of my brand and as any rebellious teenager it is time to start to make things my way. Next year I am launching a capsule collection where the uppers and linings are made from recycled vegan material from plastic that has been collected from the Mediterranean sea. This is the direction where I would like to take the brand but the component suppliers usually are not there yet. It was difficult to find bio vegan material that looks interesting and in line with Minna Parikka philosophy.
What do you love most about your job as a designer ? & what is the most difficult part?
I love creating new things and concepts. The most difficult thing is running a business in an ever-changing environment.
"You need to be made of steel or then find a partner who is. Fashion is an industry that everybody wants to enter so be ready for the great competition and ever-changing situations"
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be true to me and try to ignore other people’s unsuitable opinions.
The mission of your brand is very deep: To empower women and give them premium experience all through the joyful, surrealistic and fearless design, your quote: "They are not just shoes. They can make dreams come true." What else can you say about it?
What we wear is a strong signal to other people. I want to create things that women take as their own. They feel like what they wear is an extension of their personality. They are not shoes that other people (or men) have made them wear, It is their own decision.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, I do not know if you are married and if you have kids or just single, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
You got that right that we are expecting ourselves to be perfect in everything. I am a single mum of a 1.5-year-old, designing and running a business in an extremely tricky field. Am I doing yoga and wondering in the forest meditating daily or even weekly? Not at all. I am trying to just squeeze in the bare essentials and as much time with my daughter as possible. She is the most important thing in my life and if I would strive for a picture-perfect life she would be left to the background.
What are your plans for the future?
To make decisions that make me happy and that I can feel truly proud. Sustainable options are the future and I want to develop this site without the brand losing its identity.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? if yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I have overcome this by having my own business. I can make all the decisions and don’t have to face any domination. Whenever I counter corporate situations where somebody overlooks me because I am a youngish woman I am so amazed that this still exists. And I am even more amazed when there seem to be so many people around me in those situations that seem to think it is the norm. They have got used to the daily routine of this being ok when It is most definitely not.
"I admire every woman who has a warrior inside. Women that have the balls to take things further and by being themselves demonstrate that we are not all made of one mold"
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an entrepreneur in a very competitive industry as fashion?
You need to be made of steel or then find a partner who is. It is an industry that everybody wants to enter so be ready for the great competition and ever-changing situations.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Minna and what´s not?
Minna is a hybrid. A mix of very sensitive and incredibly strong, kind and tough, sweet and powerful. Full of contrast that confuses a lot of people.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
I admire every woman who has a warrior inside. Women that have the balls to take things further and by being themselves demonstrate that we are not all made of one mold.
Name: Minna Parikka
Company: Minna Parikka
Designation: Founder & shoe designer
Social media: https://www.minnaparikka.com/global/