C-For-Men featuring Heidi & Britt Merrick

Top Guns

Creative siblings Heidi and Britt Merrick fashion the perfect surfboard collaboration

“Having spent so much time as a kid in a surf shop, a board’s silhouette is burned in my mind,” says fashion designer Heidi Merrick, the daughter of Channel Islands Surfboards’ legendary founder and shaper, Al Merrick. So when Heidi envisioned the interiors for her own flagship, H. Merrick of California, in Downtown Los Angeles, she knew the emblem of her family’s business (and her home state) would be a part of it. She approached her brother, Britt Merrick, now the lead shaper and designer for their parents’ global brand, with the idea to execute the elegant forms she had in mind—infused with the technical legitimacy that only he could engineer.

To complement the palette of Heidi’s fall collection, they created five glossy, rideable works of art in varied lengths, dubbing the series “California Winter” as a nod to the gun-style surfboard (shaped with longer curves to harness the season’s bigger, more powerful waves). “Heidi was adamant that they be world-class surfboards that live up to our standards—not just things to hang on a wall,” says Britt. Heidi adds: “I wanted to show the craft of our legacy.”

It’s a story that only a Californian family could tell: In 1969, Heidi and Britt’s parents opened a surf shop in Santa Barbara with just enough money to allow Al to make boards, one at a time, in the back, while his wife, Terry, designed and sewed clothes up front. Channel Islands Surfboards has since become the largest company of its kind in the world, with fans including Kelly Slater, Rob Machado and Dane Reynolds.

Britt grew up mesmerized by watching his father’s expert hands sculpt foam for surfing greats such as Tom Curren. Influenced as much by her parents’ artistry as the product-to-person business model they adhered to, Heidi’s take on ready-to-wear comprises modern, minimal styles that are hand-cut and sewn in L.A. “I make clothes not for what people imagine to be Californian, but for the lifestyle that is actually lived here,” she explains. “If you look at her dresses, they have these beautiful lines,” says Britt. “And that’s where I’m at too—my joy is taking a raw piece of foam and creating contours out of it. So it was a perfect collaboration—she was speaking my language.” Prices upon request. Available exclusively at H. Merrick of California, 115 W. 9th St., L.A., 310-424-5520.

Written by GILLIAN KOENIG.
Photography by DIANA KOENIGSBERG.

 

This article originally appeared in the C For Men Fall 2017.

HEIDI’S HOUSE IS A HOME

Just a few words about Heidi, whom I met this summer and absolutely love (her, and her family John, Hiver and Alfie).

1. She’s the absolute coolest.
2. She surfs whenever she can.
3. She has a brand I can’t seem to stop wearing.
4. She has the loudest and warmest laugh around.
5. She lives her life on her own terms, makes fashion on her own terms.
6. This is her city house, but they also bought a piece of land in Ojai where they glamp like it’s Out Of Africa.
7. She’s the Heidi I went to the spa with.
8. She has the house everyone dreams of having in LA, a Spanish style house.
9. Also, she decorated it perfectly, without it being too perfect. You know?
10. And even though she has and does all that, she’s not for one second annoying.

And that’s what I can say for now. Meet Heidi!

Can you tell us a little bit about your home? How did you find it and how long have you been here?
It’s in the hills of Silverlake, we followed my childhood friends there almost 10 years ago. My husband found the house, he does real estate, and wasn’t sure I’d like it. But when I stepped on the front porch saw the view and the giant bird of paradise, I knew we needed to do everything in our power to buy it. We’ve never looked back, I’m so happy here.

How would you describe the overall aesthetic of your home? Was this your goal?
My friend, Raan, said it was a salty Chateau Marmont, I cracked up and was very complimented! My goal is always trying to tame and clean, I could fill a castle and make it weird. Editing, that’s my only goal in decor.

What is the most important thing in making a house feel like a home?
For me it’s not letting anything be precious, except the people, obviously. The people are precious! Maybe knowing that and making it beautiful for the people in it, making it a happy place to be. For example, letting my daughter have ugly piggy banks or weird rock collections.

Your furniture is so interesting and amazing – where do you find it and do you have a method when it comes to shopping / buying for the home?
Thank you! I have no method at all. If I see something I love and I’m out shopping, I buy it! Then I bring it home and let it melt in. I don’t believe in planning everything in your house, I believe in loving everything in your house. I’ve been known to go without things like couches or beds for years until something strikes me. I also gladly except hand-me-downs, it keeps the history and realness in a family.

Can you tell me about all the old books?
My grandmother (on my mom’s side) was a painter and had a beautiful art book collection that I now have. Also, buying loads of art and fashion books is one of my main indulgences. My husband is bookie and he’s collected a load of first edition classics. I have some of my grandmother (on my dad’s side) old books, her tiny bible, some Robert Louis Stevenson… A book collection becomes a family history of hobbies and devotion, I love the presence of them.

What about the books on the floor, why put them there versus on a shelf somewhere?
I don’t have enough book shelves is the simple answer. I’m a book hoarder. I love books.

What’s your favorite thing about your home?
The people in it! But the less ethereal answer would be the light. It has magical light at all different times of the day. When people are over, I love to move the party around to follow the light.

The wood platform bed is amazing…is there a story behind it?
Yes! My friend Bernard Brucha is the designer, and he and his girlfriend (my best friend, Jenny Murray) gave it to me for my 40th birthday. An extravagant and luxurious gift, maybe the best present I’ve ever gotten. Aside from the wooden surfboard my dad made me, maybe those two are tied for best.

When you entertain at your home, what’s one thing you hope people experience, feel, leave with, etc?
I want people be uplifted and relaxed and feel like life is good and the world will survive. I want them to remember that friends and family and food all the things right in front of you are worthy of your attention and love. I want them to escape the world of their phone and live and laugh a bit with my family.

What’s the best thing about living in Los Angeles?
You can live the way you want to. You can be in the hills or at the beach, you can be fancy, or skateboard barefoot- you can be yourself. Los Angeles is not the city of conformity, it’s the city of dreamers who want to live as beautifully as they create.

California Cool with Atelier Dorè

CALIFORNIA COOL WITH HEIDI MERRICK

If you were here on Friday, it’s likely you saw the story we published at Heidi Merrick’sperfectly interesting (and very beautiful) Silver Lake home. Seriously, dream house. Today we’re back with Heidi’s downtown Los Angeles store that has both nods to her home and an abundance of individuality as an extension of her modern and elegant brand. Ok, we’ll let Heidi take it from here.

Can you describe your brand in a few words?
Oh goodness. A California lifestyle collection steeped in silouette and craftsmanship? I’d add cool in there somewhere because I like the concept of being cool.

Who is the Heidi Merrick woman?
The woman who plays on the beach and puts on a gown in the same day. The one who likes to be both cool and elegant but doesn’t take herself too seriously. Who’s playful and bold enough to look lovely and not need to apologize. She’s a woman who loves to know where and how the clothes she wears are made.

Where was the brand born, and what was the catalyst?
I made my wedding dress with my mother, on the day of my wedding a few people told me I was “wasting my life” if I wasn’t “making dresses.” Ha.

How is the interior design of your store an extension of the brand? I love how even the surfboards are sort of a modern interpretation, it seems very in line with your contemporary California style.
I think it feels like extension of my design studio but hopefully cleaner and more livable. There are definite references to my house, the bed, the surfboards. Downtown, at the time, felt generally urban to me and I thought a little more of an authentic California-as-a-whole vibe would be a positive addition. Growing up in a surf shop made me love the feel of surfboards around, these boards are such a satisfying mix of siloutte and sexy.

[Editor’s note: The surf shop Heidi grew up in was Channel Islands, founded in 1969 by her dad Al Merrick. Al is both a surfer and one of most prominent surfboard shapers / makers in the world. Cool is in their blood.]

Where do you draw inspiration?
Life and more directly nature. Also, people and insecurities, I’d like to help heal woman of their troubled thoughts about not feeling beautiful. Feeling put together and elegant does wonders on the psyche. I often work from the place of, “What would make me feel beautiful right now?”

You’ve been running your brand from LA way before LA became a fashion city. How did you make that decision?
Los Angeles is the place where I found love and life and it’s just the type of place where you can make your vision happen in your own way without having to please an establishment. I don’t think it ever mattered to me what was considered a fashion city and what wasn’t.

If your next store could be anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Ibiza? Paris? Biarritz? Santa Barbara? Napa? Those to start.

Heidi Merrick & Jenny Murray Host Surf Shack Book Signing With Nina Freudenberger

Come join us at our flagship store in Downtown Los Angeles and celebrate the publication of Surf Shack by Nina Freudenberger!

Nina will be signing copies of her book from 4-7 on June 8th. We’ll be sipping champagne while discussing all things beach related with the author herself.

And what better location to have a beach chat than in local designer
Heidi Merrick’s LA store? Browse our new suit collection and check out the latest color in our surfboard installation!

Summer is here and we’re so ready.
Oh, and did we mention champagne champagne champagne?

RSVP here or by emailing info@heidimerrick.com
Last minute walk-ins will be warmly welcomed too! No ticket or admission fee required.

xx

CLEVER LA – Designer Heidi Merrick Might Just Be The Coolest Mom We Know

I met designer Heidi Merrick before I knew what she did for a living—though it came as no surprise. She and her husband and 1-year-old daughter were waiting with me in an airport terminal, all of them dressed in nautical stripes and perfectly worn denim (but not in an annoyingly matchy kind of way). Since that time Heidi has continued to gain notoriety as a woman who makes clothes other women dream of wearing—particularly if that dream also includes some fresh waves, barefoot picnics in floaty dresses, and other activities that embody the California fantasy. That’s who Merrick always has been, and it’s completely reflected in her feminine but impossibly chic collection.

Also since our meeting, Heidi has added to the family—both with the birth of her son, Alfie, and the addition of her first brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles. As a result her life is more full than ever before, which makes her all the more admirable. That said, Heidi is refreshingly transparent (one of the best things about her), so she’s the perfect person to share advice on how she balances it all, what parenthood has taught her, and how she keeps home a sacred sanctuary.

When I first met you it was as a mama—before I knew you as a designer. How has motherhood changed for you since then?

When you met me I was a new mom flying with a rambunctious toddler who kept wanting to crawl on the lap of the pretty girl next to me. Really it’s every mom’s nightmare!  Well, you being that pretty girl was a good and healthy start to having kids; it helped me realize that a large portion of the world is kind to children, understanding and helpful. Motherhood has changed me because now it’s who I am and I’m a mother first before anything else.

Now with two little ones, how do you balance work with home life?

There’s loads of life at home: life you’re invested in and life that is moving beyond anything you’ve ever experienced. Work fades to the background a little bit now. I used to dream about patterns and dresses. I’d keep a pad by my bed and sketch in the morning—it was all very romantic. This time of life just isn’t like that. I have a much more efficient way of dealing with decisions and design and that serves me better. I don’t conscientiously balance it—I follow my heart and go where I’m needed most.

What do you wish someone would have told you about motherhood or what do you think isn’t shared enough about the experience?

There’s a weird thing that happens with motherhood, and with marriage too, this sudden realization of the permanence of the situation combined with an absolute lack of privacy. Something in you has to change or die. It’s truly a process. The same thing happens when you have kids.  You are never the same again, but you are changed for the better.

When we talked to Ariel Gordon about her ideal Mother’s Day gift, she mentioned time with her husband since he’s “the low many on the totem pole.” How do you make your time with your husband count?

Hm, I need to work on it. Our new thing is reading books we both like at the same time and discussing them together while we read. Ha! Sounds so lame expressing it, but other parents know that it’s pure luxury.

Your daughter Hiver is becoming a little fashionista herself! What’s it like to see her own personality and style evolve? And does she give you critiques and advice?

I think she thinks I’m chic. Just kidding. I do try to impress her though. She’s not sartorially focused, she likes people. She’s from heaven. I do let her wear what she wants out of her closet because I know that arguing with a child about their outfits is silly.  My trick is to throw it away in the middle of the night so they don’t know.

You’ve got a gorgeous home in Silver Lake. How do you actively make your house a sanctuary away from work?

The best thing to do in the world is putter around at home and make it pretty.  I plant things, have fires, make the family eat outside, and I let the kids hang all manner of things in the trees.

What advice would you give other new or expecting moms, who still want to keep their careers?

I’ve heard my own mom say to other mothers, “You can count on your kids growing up and leaving, and if you don’t work or maintain a life of your own, what will you do when your kids leave?” Personally, I feel that I really benefitted from watching my mom succeed. She was great at most things: running a business, cooking, entertaining, and she was incredibly supportive of my dad. All those things are engrained in me now. I think your hopes for your children are best given to them by being your fullest self.

View article on Cleverla.com