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Designer India Hicks brings an island breeze to Kansas City

Island life is a big inspiration for acclaimed interior designer India Hicks.
Island life is a big inspiration for acclaimed interior designer India Hicks. .

For India Hicks the time was right to do something unexpected — again. The former Ralph Lauren model was born the daughter of British designer David Hicks and Lady Pamela Hicks. Most of the world saw her first when she served as an attendant in the wedding of her godfather, who just happens to be the Prince of Wales. That’s right. She was one of Princess Diana’s bridesmaids.

Hicks became a designer herself and has spent much of her adulthood living on a Bahamian island where she has raised five children. She has written three books — “Island Life,” “Island Beauty” and “Island Style” — about those experiences and the aesthetic of blending her British past with her tropical present.

She is in Kansas City on Monday to promote her new company and brand that bears her name and features accessories, scarves and handbags. She will sign books, chat about her home lifestyle book and talk about how her new company is designed to help other women live extraordinary lives.

Q: Why did you write your newest book? What do you hope people get out of it?

A: I think it’s definitely what I would call a lifestyle book. It doesn’t talk about Pantone colors. It’s much more about how to live life on an island.

I try to touch a little bit on my time and how I got where I was. It talks about the chaos and drama of family life and the nature that surrounds us. I talk about how we cope with kids in the house, and how to make things look beautiful and keep an aesthetic.

David and I try to live a minimal life, and we just can’t. We have layers and layers of things. So, it is also a bit of practical book and how to manage design. When I wrote the last book, we didn’t have five kids. Life goes on, and you have a much stronger point of view.

It also has a nice foreword from the Prince of Wales.

Q: What is your new brand and company about?

A: I created a lifestyle brand. I was really thinking, “How do women juggle work and family life?” I made it my mission to create a business in which we could find a better balance for that by bringing shopping back into the heart of the home.

Q: The tag line for your company is “Live an extraordinary life.” What does it mean to be extraordinary?

A: When I say that, I think that it is about living life to the fullest and taking advantage of everything that we have around us. We can make life extraordinary, whether it’s being a really good partner or mother or sister, or just living life.

Q: By all accounts you were born into the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. What do you consider extraordinary about your life?

A: I wouldn’t use the word extraordinary. I would use the word unexpected.

I don’t think it was ever expected that I wouldn’t live in England. It wasn’t expected that I would live on a small island in the Caribbean. It wasn’t expected that I would have five children. It wasn’t expected that I would start a company based in America. … It wasn’t expected that I would be a voice about women standing on their own two feet.

What was expected was that I would be quiet and well behaved and live a sensible life in England.

Q: If you were to advise someone on how to make their home and life extraordinary, where would you tell them to start?

A: Find your own aesthetic, your own sense of design. I think they should go out and buy a couple of design magazines, and something like an architectural digest will always give a variety of house styles. You should consider your space and needs.

Also go on Pinterest and build up a board of things you like. By building it up, you will begin to feel a direction happening.

People need to think about what makes them feel good. For instance, if you want to live in bright colors, then go to that. My father had a great saying, which was, “Good taste and design are by no means dependent on money.” You don’t need to go out and get a fancy decorator. You can do this for yourself.

Also beware of over-decorating. Sometimes people have over-decorated rooms, but then they never use that space. Their living room and dining room look lovely, but they spend all their time in the space where the TV sits. So we need to be careful of doing that.

Q: The pictures of your home are lovely, but you have five kids, including four teenage boys. Where do you hide all their stuff? Or do you just not have it?

A: Oh, it’s all there. They each have their own room and space. I am a Virgo, and I like organization. Teenage boys do not like to be organized.

We do have rooms that we say are our rooms. Then we give them space so they can have their rooms, which are architected by them.

Q: Why Kansas City? Have you ever been here or to the Midwest before? Anything you’re looking forward to about it?

A: I am so excited; it is my first trip. The wonderful part of my business is the relationships that we are building. It’s so much more than the selling of a handbag. I have the most amazing network of women who introduce me to new communities and new states. I have been so lucky to travel your country for the past couple of years launching this brand.

Meet India Hicks

India Hicks will appear at two events on Monday, Oct. 16.

▪ 1-3:30 p.m. at Nell Hill’s, 4101 N. Mulberry Drive, for a book signing. India Hicks design items also will be for sale in the store the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will go to support the Global Orphan Project

▪ 4:30-6:30 p.m. at George: A Lifestyle Store: 315 E. 55th St., for an informal chat about her brand and book. Books will be available for purchase.