Alice Minnich left the big city life to return to the countryside and to her roots. And it seems she has never looked back. After many creative endeavors in New York City, including culinary school, freelance food styling, and working for interior designer Alex Papachristidis, Alice started her own business and is the sole proprietor of Larger Cross, a studio and online shop based in Oldwick, New Jersey. Alice and I are virtual friends (as much as I hate that saying, it’s true), and after admiring her style from afar (she makes a hand broom look chic), and watching her skillfully balance the entrepreneurial with the creative, I reached out to see if she would be willing to chat with me and my readers. I’m so glad she did. As she put it, we are kindred spirits, and I think you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
ECS: What five everyday objects would you use to create a signature still life that shows your style?
- Emma Bridgewater mug – I bought my first Emma Bridgewater mug several years ago on a trip to London. The shape of mug is lovely and while they come decorated with many different designs, I like the animals and flowers best. I drink Yorkshire Gold tea all day long so there is always one by my side. It’s a subtle reminder of England, which is a constant source of inspiration for me.
- Blue-and-white tableware – I love blue and white on the table: it’s classic, food looks appealing on it, and it’s fun to mix and match with other patterns.
- Fresh flowers in a pitcher or crock – What a difference it makes having a few flowers on a table or kitchen counter! Gardening is one of my pastimes, and there is usually something I can clip and bring inside. Even in the winter, when there isn’t anything in bloom, I’ll buy a healthy bunch of parsley or rosemary at the grocery store and put it in a glass by the sink just to have some fresh greenery around.
- Candlesticks – Growing up, we set the table every night for dinner and ate together as a family. There were always lit candles on the table. None of it was fancy, but it was a nice touch and it’s a tradition I carry on today, even though I live alone. It’s not difficult to do and candlelight transforms a meal. My mom used pillars but I like tapers and have a collection of candlesticks I rotate in and out.
- Books – I’d be lost without my books. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t open one for one reason or another– looking for ideas for my company, Larger Cross, finding a new recipe to try, or taking an inspirational photo for Instagram. Books are one of my great joys.
ECS: How does “country life” fit into your story?
AM: I grew up in New Jersey in a house that was built where there once was a peach orchard. We were surrounded by farms and woods. After college, I moved to NYC and lived there for almost 25 years. While I love the city, towards the end of my time there, all I wanted to do was be in the country. I’d spend my weekends and holidays back in New Jersey or on Martha’s Vineyard, getting my “fix.” The urge to have a dog, and a garden, and be surrounded by nature every day finally won out and now I live in New Jersey in a fantastic little country town called Oldwick. It’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done!
ECS: What does elegance look like to you?
AM: Elegance, to me, is less about physical attributes and more about having a gracious, thoughtful and welcoming nature. It applies to people and homes. You don’t need money to be elegant but you do need refinement and kindness and anyone can possess those.
ECS: Describe a typical day in your life.
AM: I’m a morning person so I wake up very early, make a cup of tea and head back to bed. I like to scroll through Instagram, check the news, look through a book or magazine and plan my day. Then it’s time to feed and walk my black Lab, Grantham. We both love to be outside and never skip a day, even if there’s a blizzard! If it’s summer, I’ll come home and work in the garden for a bit. Other times of the year I’ll do a Tracy Anderson or Ballet Beautiful workout. I eat breakfast and then it’s time to get to work. I work from home and every day is different. Some days I’m photographing and writing copy for new products going onto my website. If an online order comes in, I always try to pack and ship it the day I receive it. There are the dreaded “accounting” days (not my favorite!) where I take care of invoices and billing. On any day, a local customer might stop by the studio and shop in person, which I love. It’s the best way to get feedback and learn ways to make the company better. I end the day with another quick walk with the dog, and then it’s dinner and a glass of wine!
ECS: Why antiques?
AM: There’s something wonderful about an object that has acquired a patina from years of use that you’ll never get from something brand new. Because antiques are more often than not one-of-a-kind, they feel more personal and special.
I actually like a mix of new and old pieces in a home. For me, if everything is new, you may as well be living in a hotel. If everything is old, it feels like a museum. New pieces make a home feel fresh but it’s the antique and vintage things that give it depth and soul, which is what makes a home memorable.
ECS: Where are you headed?
AM: I launched my company, Larger Cross, a little over a year ago after many years of thinking about it in my head. My tagline is “Life in the Country,” and I plan to keep building on what that concept means to me: helping people create original, comfortable, sophisticated homes that incorporate nature, animals, natural materials, handmade pieces and antiques. In addition to items for the home, I’d like to carry clothing and beauty products, as well as some artisanal foods and/or have a cafe but that’s down the line. One step at a time!
Visit Alice at Larger Cross to shop her charming home and garden finds.