E33 | A Conversation with Hiut Denim Co CEO, David Hieatt
David Hieatt, CEO of Hiut Denim, is best known for giving purpose (and their jobs) back to the jeans makers in Cardigan, Wales. 400 Grandmasters (as David calls them) lost their jobs in 2002 when the jeans factory they were working in closed down.
David felt a huge responsibility to give these skilled workers an opportunity to put their skills to use again as he had first hand experience, from growing up in the Welsh Valleys, of the devastating impact that huge job loss has on a community. The town hadn’t just lost their identity, they were losing £1m per week from their economy.
Fast forward to 2018 and having spent nothing on a marketing drive, David got extremely lucky when Meghan Markle wore a pair of Hiut denim jeans and overnight Hiut were flooded with orders, resulting in a three month waiting list.
David’s business philosophy of ‘create influence and a purpose driven business’ had paid off. Hiut Denim was firmly established on the fashion map for crafting long lasting, well made jeans. As well as creating a high end jeans label, David is also the co-founder of the Do Lectures – the idea behind these being a simple one: people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do amazing things too.
Tune in to hear:
- The enormous potential of the compound effect
- The value of persistence and the impact of improving yourself by 1% each day
- Purpose-driven brand growth
- How to make a return on luck
- Why naivety is a good quality in entrepreneurs
CEO and co-founder of Hiut Denim Co and co-founder of Do lectures, David Hieatt, is incredibly passionate about creating a positive energy in this world. So much so, he has built brands based on this philosophy. Today he shares his business acumen.
The power of luck
Businesses that are focussed on chasing sales aren’t going to be a sustainable business for long. A sustainable business is one that doesn’t run away from you, one that has influence on the wider world, has put the time and effort into laying its foundations, so the business lasts and isn’t buoyed up on false promises.
But that’s not to say a little bit of luck isn’t a welcome intervention when it makes an appearance. Hiut Denim’s luck came last year in the form of Meghan Markle. She was photographed in a pair of Hiut jeans and over night the company was elevated to stardom. Orders poured in, so much so, there was a three month waiting list. Not bad for a company that doesn’t have a marketing budget.
But luck isn’t something that can be manufactured, it just happens, and it’s what you do with that luck is what will ultimately determine the success of your company. Hiut Denim dedicated a whole year to creating just one cut of jeans and making sure that cut was perfect. And those were the pair Meghan wore.
Invest in your employees
A business can’t work without investment from its employees, which is why Hiut employees are called ‘Grandmasters’. In chess, you can only call yourself a Grandmaster if you’ve invested over 10,000 hours into improving your game. Some of the Hiut craftsmen had invested over 50,000 hours into honing their jeans making skills, and that is dedication that warrants recognition.
The Grandmaster moniker isn’t just for outsiders to recognise the skills of the company, but for the employees themselves, to view themselves in an elevated light. Hiut aren’t creating fast fashion, they are the Aston Martin’s of the jeans world.
Qualities of an entrepreneur
Successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but there are several qualities that they all share, namely perseverance and a dogged determination to succeed. That and being slightly naive will help you forge ahead; because without unbridled optimism veering towards naivety, no new business would ever start. If entrepreneurs truly knew how hard a new business was going to be, there is no way anyone would start one.
Crisis can give you the motivation to succeed
When you think all hope is lost, dig deeper. Resilience is a skill that can be learned, and a crisis is the best place to test your tenacity. For Hiut, this crisis came 6 months into starting up. They had been inundated with orders when they first began, so much so, they closed the website, but when they opened it again, no one was waiting. David had to think fast, and the legendary Hiut Newsletter was the result.
Never underestimate the power of a newsletter.
Having spent a long time searching for the perfect ‘how to grow your newsletter’ book on Amazon, and wasting money on a faded, poorly printed copy of something that didn’t help, David realised the only option was to write one himself. Newsletters are by far one of the best marketing opportunities open to small businesses keen to save money on their marketing efforts.
But far too many businesses focus on self-promotion in their newsletters; instead David wanted to create something that helped people, that offered advice, gave value and inspiration. David prides his newsletter on having an open rate 3-4 times higher than the industry standard.
- Do Open: A Simple Email Newsletter Can Grow Your Business by David Hieatt
- Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman–Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual by Yvon Chouinard
- Ego is the Enemy: The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent by Ryan Holiday
- It’s Not how Good You Are its How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden