Heidi Hess never planned on being a designer. “I was a radio personality for ten years, ” she says. “I just didn’t love it anymore… it was time for me to do something else.” Revamping her entire professional m.o., the Chicago native turned to a career she admittedly didn’t know much about. “I have a broadcast degree,” she says. “I openly admit that I wasn’t schooled in fashion.” Turns out she didn’t need to be.
Drawing on her love of knitwear, she began selling her own designs to other boutiques in 2004. “It just grew,” she says. “I [just] figured it out each year.” Hess says she’s “always looking for new ways to make knits.”
Designing custom pieces for women, Hess says she can outfit just about anyone, from super-petite to plus-size ladies in just about anything and everything knit. And beyond—2010 will see Hess venturing into “more of different textiles… I’m always looking for new fibers to blend.”
Bringing her debut store to the West Loop this past winter, Hess ventured into another role she never envisioned for herself: entrepreneur. “I never really wanted to [open my own store,]” she says. “An opportunity presented itself, and I couldn’t really pass it up.” And now? She wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love it!” she says of her new gig.
Choosing her own West Loop neighborhood as the locale for what Hess calls her “first little baby” was a less daunting choice. “There’s just something about the West Loop,” she says. “I went there for a show in 2005. I was walking around, I met a few people and I said, ya know what? I’m gonna live here.” Packing up her Lakeview apartment for one further west, Hess says the store’s placement was “a natural progression.”
One that Hess is extremely grateful for. “I never really wanted a store, and now I want to have more,” she says. “It’s weird, it’s like I caught the bug!” (Nicole Briese)
Heidi Hess, 210 N. Halsted, (312)550-8070, heidihess.com