Whenever a well-known duo splits, it’s challenging for the rest of us. Think Angelina and Brad. Sonny and Cher. Kermit and Miss Piggy. Minick and Simpson. Wait…what??? (Don’t worry, the show will go on!)
Before we talk about Polly Minick’s retirement, let’s back up and share a few facts about Minick and Simpson, the sisterly duo who make up the design team known for their fabric lines, incredible patterns (Lady of the Lake Superior, Patty’s Posies, Austin Bluebird), and lovely books.
- Polly doesn’t quilt. No, really—she claims to have never sewed a stitch. But she is a master rug hooker. Laurie is the quilter and quilt designer. While their skill set is different, they share a design aesthetic that’s inspired by folklore and Americana, and by a love of enriching their work with multiple shades of the same color. “Laurie quilts like I hook,” says Polly. “She’ll use 30 different pieces of red in a quilt, and if I’m using blue in a rug I’ll use 15 shades that are very close, but not the same.”
- They got their start with Moda when Polly called to order five yards of a ticking she’d seen in a store to use for rug binding. She didn’t know that Moda didn’t sell directly to individuals, but when she called the person who picked up the phone (Debbie Duckworth AKA Ducky) knew that Polly’s rugs were beloved by Moda’s design director, Cheryl Freydburg. Moda was thinking of doing a line of wools and when Cheryl saw Polly’s rugs combined with Laurie’s quilts in a magazine, she called Polly. Then Polly called Laurie to see if she was interested. Was she? Yes! “It was a whirlwind and seemed like we were designing for Moda within a day or two,” says Laurie. Since then the pair have designed more than 40 lines of fabric.
- Many of the fabrics that are the starting points for Minick and Simpson collections come from specialty textile dealers in New York, people Polly meets via her antiques business. (She specializes in folk art and furniture and smaller items with original paint.) Polly and Laurie have their own collections of homespun, ticking, and other vintage fabrics as well, and these show up in their collections, too. Polly and Laurie visit New York annually, to window shop, visit museums, and gather inspiration of all kinds.
- Though Polly is also retiring from rug hooking, she’s planning one last big show of her rugs for February. It’ll be held at the Ralph Lauren decorator showroom in her hometown of Naples, Florida, and Laurie’s quilts will also be in evidence. “I’ve done a show every year for the last 26 years—ten years in Manhattan, then in Nantucket, and then Naples,” says Polly.
Both sisters acknowledge that they’ll miss designing together. Laurie calls Polly the “go-getter,” the one who had the idea to design fabric and write books.
Polly calls Laurie “the brains.” “When we started designing fabrics I didn’t know anything and she knew what quilters needed—to vary the scale and that kind of thing,” says Polly, “I can be creative, but she’s the one who sits down and turns those ideas into beautiful quilts.”
Retirement won’t mean slowing down for Polly. In addition to her antiques business she and her husband plan to travel the country, visiting their seven grandchildren. (They live in Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida.) But she’s grateful for the opportunities that being part of Minick and Simpson provided. “To be able to work with your sister for 16 years, to travel to France three times and all over the country was so much fun,” she says. She’s grateful to have worked with Moda, too. “They’re a classy outfit. I’ve learned a lot and so appreciate getting to work with everyone there. I have great respect for them.”
Though Polly won’t be at Quilt Market in Houston, her presence will be felt in the debut of Crystal Lake, Minick and Simpson’s last jointly designed line. And while Laurie will miss working with her sister, their shared experiences and passion for textiles will be evident in the future Minick and Simpson fabric lines that Laurie will continue to design. Thankfully, at the same time we wish Polly well in retirement, we can breathe a sigh of relief that Laurie will carry the Minick and Simpson torch for years to come.