The Ambassador of Style

Designer and entrepreneur India Hicks is spreading her unique style around the world

India Hicks is all over the map—literally and figuratively.

She’s a globetrotting former fashion model with a design empire that’s based out of the Bahamas and Great Britain. She’s the author of a number of books on each of her homes: one on Harbour Island called Hibiscus Hill and one in Oxfordshire dubbed America Farm. And now she’s launched her own eponymous merchandise brand.

She comes by her talents naturally enough. “My mother has the second-best design eye in England and my father had the first,” she says. “And I was lucky to have a taste of that.”

Her new brand is designed to empower women everywhere. “It’s an exciting business that they can have from their homes—in their kitchen, dining room, or living room—where their friends can shop the collection,” she says. “It’s a social-selling business.”

Hicks refers to her representatives as “ambassadors.” Collectively, they make up her “tribe.” They earn 25 percent on everything they sell, including handbags, accessories, beauty items, and fragrances, all created by her team and herself. And then there are the curated collections of exclusive, limited-edition items from her design partners.

As if that weren’t enough, she’s a mother to five children (ages 21, 20, 18, 14, and 10) with her partner, David Flint Wood, whom she met on Harbour Island years ago. Her father, David Hicks, one of the leading British designers of the 1960s and ’70s, built a house on neighboring Eleuthera in 1967, the year she was born. As a result, she’s spent time on Harbour Island most of her life.

She met Wood, a friend of her sister’s, when he was managing a hotel on Harbour Island, fell in love, and stuck around. “I realized you should take a home and never leave,” she says. “Now, we’re five children later and still in the same house.”

That house has changed substantially over time. It was built in the mid-’60s as a modern, white, stuccoed affair, but when the couple bought it, they initiated a radical transformation. “When we moved there, there was a very short season and we felt it was somewhere we wanted to make our home, not to visit,” she says. “It takes you back in time to the island style. The balustrade was added on as the family grew, and we added on to the back for when people came to visit.”

The couple wanted a home that fit into the Harbour Island atmosphere and eschewed anything that looked even remotely modern. Instead, they embraced traditional Bahamas elements, like picket fences and clapboard siding. “When we bought it, it felt like Palm Beach, and we wanted it to feel more island-like, like the wooden cottages with breezeways,” she says.

They did it all in a West Indian island style. Inside, they replaced concrete floors with dark mahogany planks, then added shutters, terraces, mosquito netting, and fans. Its walls may be stucco but they added paneling and beadboard to evoke the 19th and 20th centuries. “It’s an atmosphere, isn’t it?” she observes.

As for color, Hicks looked back to the island’s heritage—and to her father’s penchant for clashing palettes. “We felt that because there’s such a color kaleidoscope in the Bahamas, with pale grays and greens, we wanted to make it light and breezy,” she says. “And because my father was a master of color, I couldn’t resist splashes like a bright red sofa and a staircase in hibiscus pink.”

There are five bedrooms now for her family of seven, plus a guest house and cricket pavilion (in England, this is where fans can watch sporting matches). The family lives on-island year round, though Hicks travels a great deal and has children in school in Great Britain.

Which brings us to the house she calls America Farm, named for the field in Oxfordshire on which it was built, not far from where she was raised. It’s the subject of her latest book, India Hicks: A Slice of England.
She wrote it, she says, to illustrate her lifestyle business—and all the lives she lives that blend into one. “It’s about how to live with horrible teenagers; how to build a house that fits into the landscape; and how to write a book, create a business, and design a house without going bat-shit crazy,” she says.

At its core, the book is very British. After all, Hicks, a bridesmaid in Lady Diana’s wedding, is a descendant of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, second cousin to the Prince of Wales, and 678th in line to the throne. She covers none of that in her writing, though, preferring to focus on her lifestyle instead.

“It’s a journey, and it talks about some of the day-to-day traditions of English life, like mince pies, fireplaces, and traveling circuses,” she says. “It’s really about the power of family legacy and how to adapt it to modern life.”

Believe it or not, designing her new home came down to a pragmatic approach. “I didn’t have a huge budget for this estate,” she says. “I live life to the fullest and care passionately about great design, but at the end of the day you have to be practical.”

A self-deprecating sense of humor helps as well. “This is a picture book that takes about 20 minutes to read while sitting on the loo,” she says. “I love to write, but I am not Tolstoy.”

She’s not—but she does have more style in her little finger than most families do across five generations.

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