There are two reasons why we feel grateful to have found Helsinki-based shoe designer, Minna Parikka: First, she is a massive shoe lover, just like us; and second, she is one of the few female shoe designers in an industry mainly dominated by men. After all, this is the woman that has made our shoe fantasies come alive — a feat no male designer could have possibly achieved.
Parikka started her own eponymous line of shoes in 2006 for the sole purpose of making footwear less serious and more fun. Ever since, her label has become the go-to cult brand for whimsical, bold and surrealist kicks. Some of her most ardent followers include celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Fergie, Palamo Faith and Beth Ditto.
We catch up with Parikka to find out the secrets behind her successful brand and what a woman's perspective has to contribute.
At 15, you already knew you wanted to be a footwear designer. What sparked the passion?
My teenage dream was to become a shoe designer and to fulfil all of my shoe fantasies. When I was 15, my sister wrote an article about shoe designer Andrea Pfister. It was like lightning had struck me when I realised that I could think about shoes all day long as a profession. At the age of 19, I moved to the UK to study footwear designing at a university level. After living, studying and working abroad for six years I returned home to Helsinki, Finland to start up my brand at 25.
Bunny ears are your trademark. Where did you get the idea to create bunny-inspired shoes?
It all came from an idea of a little bunny hiding in a shoe with its ears sticking out. Sometimes simple ideas work best and because of that, the ear shoes have become such a hit among women all over the world, from celebrities and bloggers like Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner and Susie Bubble to name just a few. I do so many different kinds of shoes with whimsical details taking inspiration from nature, the dream world and pop culture.
Of all the animals you could choose, why rabbits in particular? Do you have pet rabbits?
Ironically, I'm allergic to anything that is furry so I've never been able to have a pet. I guess I am compensating that by designing cute animal-like shoes.
Can you describe your shoes in three words.
Fun, flirty, adventurous.
What is it about shoes that you love so much?
Style should be built from the ground up. You can wear all sorts of clothes, cheap or expensive, but with shoes you can't fake it. Shoes show your personality and they can really be a hit or miss. You have to stay true to your own taste.
Tells us about your fall/winter 2015 collection and the inspiration behind it.
The inspiration came from my dream trip to ride across the States with a glitter pink Harley with unicorns painted on it. That was where the cartoon details from unicorns to snacks and body parts came from.
What are your main criterias when designing a pair of shoes?
It needs to entertain me. There are so many dull shoes out there that play it safe. I want to create something that puts a smile on people's faces. It is important to create emotions. Being a woman myself, I also want the shoe to be comfortable. I want to still be wearing my shoes when I'm 70.
What has been the most memorable shoe you've designed?
Aside from the bunnies and hearts, I would say every single shoe that I've designed that Lady Gaga has worn. They all have that extra craziness to them.
What challenges do you face when designing a shoe?
Designing is the easiest part of my job. There are so many other things that require a lot of patience when running your own business.
A shoe-lover yourself, why do you think women are obsessed with shoes?
What is there not to love when it comes to shoes? Shoes can make your day or ruin it. The right pair makes you feel like a woman and shows everybody your true personality.
Let's not be shy... how many pair of shoes do you own?
I cannot even count that far.
What's next for Minna Parikka? What are you currently working on?
There are so many things going on internationally since we are stocked in 25 different countries and working with so many celebrities. I am super excited that we are going to launch a new webshop and the visuals created by my absolute favourite illustrator duo Craig & Karl. It's going to be amazing to see their style collide with mine to create pastel coloured visuals filled with eyes, mouths, bunnies and walking fingers.
Shop Minna Parikka's collection here.