By Anna Ryan
As a mother in New York City, life can be hectic, but Michelle-Marie Heinemann has it under control. Not only is she a wife and mother of two, but she’s also an expressionist painter, involved with multiple charities and an avid equestrian. But it doesn’t stop there, she’s also opening a high-end children’s boutique this fall. Yet with all her success, Michelle-Marie makes it a priority to always spend quality time with her family.
Michelle-Marie has been a passionate expressionist painter for the last 20 years and has enjoyed every second of it. “I’ve had shows all over the world and my paintings were even featured in the windows of Tiffany’s. Robert Rufino, who was their VP of creative services discovered my paintings at the National Arts Club and chose to put them in the 5th Avenue windows. It was an honor to have them featured alongside Tiffany’s magnificent jewelry.” Her recent exhibition in St. Barth’s showcased 22 of her paintings and attracted her friends from all over the world. Michelle-Marie has a new show coming up in Gstaad, Switzerland, at the legendary Gstaad Palace. “I’m very excited about it. My family and I are going to Switzerland before the exhibition to make sure everything will be perfect. I’m thrilled about taking my children to Gstaad because they haven’t been and it’s just so beautiful.”
Aside from her success as a painter, she is involved with several charities including Blankets for Warmth, which she founded 15 years ago. This non-profit organization is a seasonal charity, which allows Michelle-Marie to collect blankets for the homeless during the warm weather months. “This charity has a direct impact on the homeless; we take our trucks out on the streets at 8 p.m. There are specific locations around the city where the homeless wait so we know where to stop. After the Coalition for the Homeless distributes food, we give out blankets. Last winter I started to incorporate a toiletry set. I include a tube of toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss and a little mirror so after they eat they can freshen up and feel good about their teeth.” On November 1st, Michelle-Marie is hosting her first gala for Blankets for Warmth at the Carlyle Hotel. She expects a hundred major donors and several celebrities have expressed interest in helping call attention to the organization’s mission. “It’s important to raise awareness about the issues facing the homeless. I’m proud we help people in other countries but we also have hungry and homeless families in New York City. I hope more people will get involved with Blankets for Warmth. And it’s very easy; all you need to do is donate one blanket. What may not be a big deal for us is a big deal for them. They use it for warmth and they also use it to cuddle with, almost like a security blanket. I see them walking around the streets with my blankets, especially at the Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue. It makes me feel so good because I know they’re using the blankets and keeping warm in the evening.”
Along with Blankets for Warmth, Michelle-Marie is involved with an equestrian charity called Equine Resolution. It’s a new charity that focuses on rehabilitating horses that have been put out to pasture. They focus on getting these horses healthy so that they’re not put down. “There’s a real need for this. Show horses can have a hard life when they reach a certain level.” This spring she supported Prize4Life, which is seeking a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease. “I attended their gala and it was very moving, it’s a terrible illness. I was heartened to learn about the scientific advances that have been made in ALS.” She is also on the board of the Diller-Quaile School of Music, a children’s school on the Upper East Side. For the last six years she has co-chaired the Museum of Natural History’s Family Party. “It’s a wonderful event they have every fall, which opens up the museum to families. I love being involved and doing what I can to help out. Now that I have children I like doing things that are centered around children.” Her other charitable interests include the American Red Cross and this month she will attend the Southampton Hospital’s 55th Annual Summer Party chaired by Jean Shafiroff.
Michelle-Marie’s newest project is a high-end children’s clothing store, called Hudson & Hyacinth. The store was inspired by her children, Hudson, six and a half, and Hyacinth, two. The line will go from infants to tweens and teens. “I want to design a collection my children can grow into. I didn’t want to do it to age nine and then have my children turn ten and not have anything for them in my stores. I’m creating the clothes for Hudson and Hyacinth so I’ll always be excited about them.” All of the clothes are hand-made in Paris and London and her first three stores will open in Paris, St. Barth’s and on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. “I’ve been working on this idea for quite some time because there are just a handful of wonderful children’s stores. I can’t wait because this is something I will never become bored with. I’ll have my children, they’ll grow up and have their own children and I’ll be a grandmother. It’s something that I will keep doing and doing. Eventually I plan on having stores all over the world.”
As if painting, charity work and opening stores all over the world weren’t enough; her family is active in the equestrian world. Her husband Jon Heinemann plays polo and both her children compete on the show circuit. “It’s a family-oriented sport. It’s all about supporting one another. When my husband plays polo on Sunday’s, after the match we have an Argentine style barbecue. All the families come and the children run around and play and fish in the pond. It’s just beautiful and something we enjoy doing as a family.” Last year, Hudson competed in HITS in Saugerties and he was the Grand Champion, “I am very proud of him. And my baby daughter, Hyacinth, started riding and she already rides by herself, of course her instructor walks beside her, but she’s truly riding. It’s rewarding for me to see how much my children love animals and being outside. I cherish that about them.” This August they will both be competing in the Hampton Classic Horse Show, “Hudson’s going to do Short Stirrup and Hyacinth will be doing Leadline. I’m planning on riding as well. We have a lot of friends in the Hamptons so we have a whole week planned for showing, riding, and celebrating.”
Michelle-Marie loves living her busy life in New York and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’ve been in New York for 22 years. Quite frankly, I feel like I should have been born here. Being a New Yorker means it feels like it’s your home; walking into a boutique or café and feeling like it’s yours. You feel like you belong in the community. I think that’s a true New Yorker.” •