On the evening of January 15th, we hosted our first talk of 2013 in the YCN Shop & Library, from entrepreneur David Hieatt.
An audience of YCN members attended the talk to hear David speak at length about his latest venture, Hiut Denim Co. and share his thoughts on where the best ideas come from.
David described how he established Hiut to get the Welsh coastal town of Cardigan Bay making jeans again. Cardigan was once the home to a factory which produced thousands of pairs of jeans a week for 40 years. David suggested how you'd be hard pressed to find a resident of the town who doesn't know how to work with denim, joking that when you learn to drive, the instructor can teach you how to make a jean at the same time.
When the factory closed in 2001, not only did the town lose confidence in itself, but 400 of its 2,000-strong population lost their jobs, and the economy was deprived of £1,000,000 every week as a result. David sought to set up a venture that would give Cardigan its swagger back, and help give those 400 people their jobs back too.
David acknowledged that whilst Hiut couldn't compete with China's prices or their competitors' resources, they could "make a great jean through sentiment and quality". Taking his inspiration from two of his children's well-loved, threadbare toys, David thought that the way we humanise and attach memories to the things we own could be carried through to his brand. Stressing the importance of stories, he decided to include a HistoryTag within every pair of Hiut jeans as a way of recording and discovering its past adventures.
At this point, David stressed the importance of the small ideas, noting "small can do a lot". He suggested it’s unwise to strive for the big idea or wait for the big call as there is no such thing. The big idea is more likely to be the sum of a lot of smaller ones.
David then spoke about the presentation of Hiut, telling of how he wanted to turn the run-down building they were using as their headquarters into a factory that "doesn't look or smell like a factory". He expressed a confusion towards fake heritage brands, saying how it made more sense to him to start your brand today and look forward. This is why you’ll see 2012 on the back of every pair of Hiut jeans.
Whilst 80% of jeans on the market produced are washed to look seasoned (a process that can have severe environmental repercussions), David believes it makes more sense to wear the jeans in yourself. He recently set up a new scheme which does just that, loaning customers a pair of jeans which they are asked to wear in over the course of 6 months without washing them, before sending the pair back. These will then be re-sold as a naturally-worn jean, with the people that wore them in receiving 20% of the profit.
Whilst David couldn't say for certain whether this process would be successful or worthwhile, he did state how it's important to try projects that might not necessarily make sense. "Rely on crazy and keep having these dumb ideas", he said, "one of them is bound to be smart".
David went on to discuss how time is important, and should be spent doing the things you love. To illustrate his belief that “work shouldn’t feel like work, but a bit of fun”, David used the example of surfer, photographer and filmmaker Mickey Smith. Mickey, who has previously spoken at one of David’s DO Lectures, spent 10 years working on the breathtaking surfing short Dark Side of the Lens. As a result of the project, he is now in the position where he can charge whatever he wants for any job he wants. Whilst David observed that we all have barriers, be they mortgages or other commitments, it was us that put them there, and only we know how to tear them down.
David concluded his presentation by quoting Charles Bukowksi, “if you’re going to try, go all the way”. We would like to thank David for what was an inspiring and thought-provoking talk, and to everybody who came along to see it.
Join YCN today to find out more about other talks and events we will be hosting in the future.
Location:72 Rivington Street,
London, EC2A 3AY,
Start:15th January, 2013 at 6:30pm
End:15th January, 2013 at 8:00pm