A Flat Life / Abby Mills
Written & Photographed by: Elizabeth Ukpe
Abby (short for Abigail) Mills lives a bit of a double life. Professionally, she is known to many as an accomplished UX designer who, up until last month, worked at Big Spaceship in Dumbo, Brooklyn. She’s since packed up and moved (back) out west with her husband and cat to take on an exciting role at Apple. When she isn’t busy being a total boss in the design arena, she’s sharing her styling secrets of mixing vintage with contemporary brands via her blog Clothes & Pizza.
I originally met Abby almost 10 years ago, when she first moved to New York, via a mutual friend. She settled into Williamsburg (before it was cool) and I was trying to survive in Spanish Harlem, which was being branded to post college graduates as “the new Upper East Side”. Abby & I bonded over PBRs, cheap designer finds, dating in the city (in our 20s) and our love of pizza most likely. Times have certainly changed since then & I was over the moon excited to re-connect and collaborate with this beauty to talk all things flats, fashion and pizza (obviously).
Elizabeth: Abby! I’m so excited to be sitting with you today. You’ve always had such a fun take on personal style and I can’t wait for our readers to learn a bit more about you. For starters, tell us where you’re from?
Abby: Liz! So happy to be chatting with you! I’m from the Bay Area in California. I’m from a small town called Palo Alto, which is now renowned for Facebook and Google and all of those places. So yeah, I grew up there and then I moved to New York almost ten years ago.
EU: And why New York City?
AM: Long story short, I moved here kind of on a whim. I thought I was going to be here for just a couple of months working one summer just for the experience when I was in college and then I never left!
EU: Ha! I feel like that is the story with most people who come here.
AM: Yeah, I moved here with one suitcase and slowly accumulated a whole house worth of things.
EU: Really? I moved here with several suitcases….
AM: Let’s be clear, this was not a knapsack. It was a massive suitcase.
EU: Fair enough. So you’re a UX designer. Tell me a bit about what your day to day is like?
AM: Yes, so a UX or User Experience designer is someone who is designing digital products from a user’s point a view. So my job is to advocate for the people who will be using the product. Hopefully you’re working for a brand that understands that building a website with user goals in mind is in their best interest. I do a lot of research, I interview a lot of people and make things easier to use.
EU: Let’s talk trends. What in particular do you love this year in shoes?
AM: 90s shoes for sure: transparency, clear stuff, and mesh. I’m really into Tevas, flatforms and ugly chunky dad shoes.
EU: Those dad shoes are really making waves! How often do you opt for flats versus heels?
AM: I almost never wear “heels” heels. I just can’t do that shit anymore. I alternate. I’ll do a stacked heel one day and then flats the next to give my feet a break. I’d say I wear flats 80% of the time.
EU: Do you feel like there is a social stigma for women when it comes to heels versus flats?
AM: There shouldn’t be but yeah. I feel like women always feel like if you’re dressing up it has to include heels but luckily that mindset is shifting. I do feel like for someone who is vertically challenged I am constantly asking myself “ugh, should I wear heels to that thing? I don’t want to be too short”. But thankfully I married someone who isn’t super tall so it’s not a huge deal.
I was once at this fancy lingerie store and I was talking to a sales associate and they had to wear three-inch heels all day. Like, it was part of the required uniform.
EU: That’s insane
AM: It ruins your feet! It’ll give you bunions and I have calluses on my feet.
EU: I have corns!
AM: Yes! I mean, from just wearing shoes that aren’t ergonomic.
EU: So, on that note, what is your foot care regimen, if any? Also, what are your go to products if any?
AM: I get pedicures once every two weeks. Mostly for the callus treatment and the foot massages. I try to use a pumice stone in the shower because my husband and I joke that I have these scaly reptile feet. I try to use lotion at night, like Aquaphor. I also thought about getting foot socks that you can put the lotion into.
EU: I once got a foot massage at Bliss Spa and it was literally heaven.
AM: Ugh, yes! I would love that.
EU: What colors can we typically find on your toes?
AM: I usually do like a classic red, like candy apple reddish. I experiment more on my hands than toes.
EU: How long does it take for you to break into a shoe and are flats easier in your mind than heels?
AM: It usually takes me forever. I’m always carrying band-aid’s in my bag because I can always tell when I’m about to get a blister. I find flats usually easier to take break in than heels but it still takes me forever.
EU: What is your go to flat shoe style?
AM: I love sneakers. I love my Nike Cortez’s. I love Vans, especially my slip ons. In the summer I tend to wear more open toe shoes just because my feet get really hot. I also feel like it was 2012 when the Nike Free craze popped up and that was the start of the cool sneaker that felt causal and not like you were coming from a workout.
EU: Yes! I had a few pairs myself. Obviously, tennis shoes have always been around but not a shoe with actual support.
So in terms of your foot type I would say you’re in the middle. You don’t have a super high arch but there is something there. And it’s funny that you love Cortez’s because I find them to be the most uncomfortable since I have completely flat feet.
AM: I actually have this pair of Kat Maconie sandals that kind of look like Birkenstocks that are just so uncomfortable. I had to put moleskin in the shoes to make them bearable.
EU: Before we go, let’s talk about your side hustle. Your blog is called Clothes & Pizza and I know readers can find out where you source your best finds via the website, but what are the best-kept secrets of Brooklyn relative to pizza?
AM: I’m biased. I really love Carmine’s which is just down the block from me. They have this slice that I love which is barbecue chicken and barbecue sauce. It’s incredible. I also really like Emmy Squared, which is on Grand Street in Williamsburg. But I’m not a pizza snob. I’ll eat it as long as it’s good.
EU: Even if it’s frozen pizza?
AM: Even if it’s frozen pizza. I am equal opportunity.