David Hieatt is an entrepreneur in the purest sense of the word. Leaving school at 16 to open a market stall selling trainers taught him the importance of sales and a good pair of shoes – on a good day he had money to buy enough petrol to get home. On a bad day, he walked.
At 21, he joined Saatchi and Saatchi, where he worked for 8 years. To be surrounded by people who loved ideas felt to David like joining the best club in the world. He had the time of his life. At Saatchi, David learnt to take risks and to trust his instinct. When Saatchi and Saatchi lost the Adidas pitch to Leagas Delaney, David moved to the competitors – because he loved working on Adidas.
It was then that David started a brand called Howies by making four t-shirts. Although he told everyone it was just a hobby – it wasn’t. Next came a stint at Abbott Mead Vickers where he won tricky pitches and was put on the board. But on Friday nights he pursued the dream.
At 36, he left Abbott Mead to concentrate on Howies. He moved from London back to Wales, where Howies grew quickly, winning awards and being voted in the top 50 brands in the UK year after year. Eventually David sold Howies to Timberland. He tried to buy it back 3 times. He learnt you should never sell your love.
David’s next project was an annual event called The Do Lectures. With 30 speakers, over the two sites (Wales and California), it was voted in the top ten ideas festivals in the world by the Guardian. The talks have been watched millions of times online.
Age 47, fashion and retail called again, David started The Hiut Denim Co. His town in Wales used to have the biggest jeans factory in Britain. He has started a small factory to make his own brand of jeans and to get his town making jeans again. The Hiut Denim Co is the first pair of jeans in the world to incorporate a thing called a HistoryTag. It lets you attach memories of where you went and what you did in them to the jean via the Internet. So one day if those jeans get handed down or end up in a second-hand shop, the memories will go with them too.
As a speaker, David Hieatt draws on his experience – from Howies to a current and sustainable jeans company – to address why brands with a purpose do better and matter more.
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