This week our kind of girl is India Hicks. An heiress, sure - her grandfather was the last Viceroy of India - hence her name - she was bridesmaid to Princess Diana, and Prince Charles is her Godfather - yet she’s one who earns an income.
Our kind of blogger... India Hicks
Image: Brittan Goetz
As well as her lifestyle brand India Hicks Island Living, her blog, featuring a series of engaging interviews with real people and their remarkable stories called Extraordinary Lives, is engaging women of all walks of life.
Life envy may be the residual emotion when she describes her home in the Bahamas with her partner David Flint Wood, her four children and Wesley, a Bahamian teenager they have recently adopted but also a whole lot of inspiration. In short, she’s our kind of girl.
What led you to launch Extraordinary Lives?
I was having my make-up done by this wonderful girl before I went on a live show on HSN Shopping Channel. It was three am, it was the graveyard shift but out of the blue we got talking about breast cancer, which she had suffered from. She told me how grateful she was for everything, after she had recovered. It changed the way she felt about life. I realised there are so many incredible stories that it is just so lovely to share them. We have a significant audience [on Extraordinary Lives] and it is an engaged audience.
Do you always believe there is a way forward?
Yes, although there can be serious knocks in life. I recently spoke to a lady called Kathy Thompson who in the space of nine months was left by her husband, her house burned down and she had to have major surgery on her back. She was left with nothing but two small children and she didn't know how she was going to go on. But she had one life changing moment after another and she changed so she could stand on her own two feet. Her resilience was extraordinary - she feels no bitterness that life served her a wrong hand. I am in the process of launching a new business which will be unveiled in January which is geared towards women. That is all I can say, but watch this space.
What are the moments that have changed your life?
When my Grandfather was killed by the IRA. I was there, but it wasn't the experience of it. It was watching my mother cope - I drew a lot from that experience. And moving to an island. I didn’t mean to, I didn't plan it, but it happened. And I think living in that environment, you have to be quite a survivor. It is one thing going as tourist, it’s quite another to live there. There are a lot of limitations.
Why did you decide to adopt Wesley?
Again it was a series of events that led to the point of standing with Wesley watching while his mother was buried. Him arriving at the doorstep with a bin liner filled with his few possessions. I did what most people would do, you open the door. We are still working it out. It is certainly no fairytale, there is no textbook for the experience we are going through, it is a unique situation. All I can do is constantly reassure Wesley that we love him. That he is our family.
Image: Brittan Goetz
When have you been most afraid?
Fear comes in so many different forms. You have fear of bats. I hiked in the Grand Canyon, and slept in a cave. I woke up with bats all over me and I had waist-length hair, I was terrified these bats were going to nest in my hair. I have fear of the unknown. I have fear of things I don't fully understand like faith. I have fear because I travel on very small aeroplanes like rusty tin cans, flown by cowboys through appalling tropical lightning storms. More recently, having done these interviews for Extraordinary Lives, so many people respond by saying that they face fear head on. It is a very solid response.
When have you taken a bad turn?
I don't see them as bad turns. There are things I would do differently and I have regrets, obviously, like not having gone to university. I missed out on those few years of solidarity. Now I thirst for more education, while back then I was a lazy little so and so.
Do you care what others think?
I care what certain people think. I care that my mother feels pride in the way she raised me. I care that my other half still looks at me the same way he did 18 years ago. I care what my children think of me, most importantly. Possibly the wider audience, I don’t care. I live my life by certain standards and I have an awful lot of fun. I have a filthy sailor’s mouth and people hold me up for that.
What is the silliest thing you have done recently?
I do a lot of silly things. Once a year on the island we have a Christmas carnival, a wonderful celebration where the Bahamians make costumes out of crepe paper and dance in the street. We are really the only foreign family to take part. The Bahamians dance beautifully: I dance like a white girl. Last year myself, my [business] partner Linda and my daughter dressed in blue “Morph” suits with butterfly wings. I asked my other half: “Do you think I am I too old to be dressed in a lycra suit wearing butterfly wings and dancing in the street?” David said: “I think you’ve answered your own question”.
How do you maintain your zest?
Life has been quite an adventure for me. I went to Gordonstoun school in the north of Scotland, I modelled in Paris, worked in New York, studied in Boston. I came from a very blessed background but anyone can lift up their lives and move it to experience a different culture. I think travel is the greatest form of education. It teaches you to be patient. I don't have any answers. I enjoy the diversity of my life. I have an adventurous streak.
What is your favourite virtue?
My energy. I definitely have a lot of energy. I love to run marathons, I spend 14 hours at my desk - actually, I don’t love that - I will take it on. I just am able to keep going.
How do you be so sure in your decisions?
I am not really ever sure. If you stand and look for too long you are never going to jump. I also think that life is a lot of work - relationships are work, motherhood is work, work is work - and you just have to face that and get on with it.
What is your chief characteristic?
My mother and my other half would say I am a big old bossy boots.
What is your pet aversion?
Many. The designer Jonathan Adler said in a recent interview on Extraordinary Lives, “snobbism”. There is no excuse for that.
What is your mantra in life?
We had a motto at my school: “There is more in you than you think”.
How do you relax?
I lock the bathroom door and have a hot bath with bag of liquorice - but you have to make sure the door is locked.
What inspires your style?
I kind of had a head start with a design father (Her father was the famed interior designer David Hicks, and her mother, Pamela Hicks, is the daughter of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma). I take a great interest in my surroundings and I feel very passionate about design. Certainly David has a high aesthetic taste level which has led to ferocious arguing, we learnt we both really care about the way we live. I hope I am creating homes that are inviting and not too precious.
Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?
When I modelled it was meeting different people from all walks of life. I was not so interested in the fashion but I love an eccentric character - and they are certainly there in the fashion world. Now I have really embraced the design world. I love it when a collection comes to life.
What is your first memory of Fenwick?
I have a real soft spot for the store. My mother and father lived at Albany at the end of Bond Street [in London]. Fenwick really was our go-to of shops. I remember when I was at that awkward age of 12 and 13, and I was kind of a tomboy with an older sister who was very beautiful and trendy and Fenwick was somewhere I went with my mother where we both felt comfortable. She would sit in the cafe and have a cup of tea and a piece of cake and I was allowed to roam freely on the first floor and choose clothes to buy.
Essentially it was your corner shop?
Be Inspired By India Hick's Style
Compiled by Emma Chandler (Available at Fenwick stores nationwide)
By Claire Brayford