Photo:Courtesy of Edie Parker
Welcome to Second Life, a podcast spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief content officer at Who What Wear, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to stay tuned.
Take a look at any red carpet, and you’re bound to spot one of Brett Heyman’s acrylic vintage-inspired bags. Yes, I’m talking Edie Parker. Worn by everyone from Kate Hudson to Solange Knowles to Reese Witherspoon, and often marked with cheeky, irreverent phrases like “weed” and “single,” the brand’s distinct style is unmistakable. “We weren't just making you a cheaper version of something that existed or a watered-down version or a slightly differentiated version. For better or worse, our bags are original, and we turn out original things every season,” Heyman tells Hillary Kerr in the latest episode of Second Life.
It all started back in 2011, when Heyman, a longtime thrifter and vintage-bag collector, noticed that her favorite acrylic bags from the ’50s and ’60s were becoming increasingly hard to find. That realization, combined with the emotional response she’d receive whenever she’d wear one from her own collection, led her to the inception of Edie Parker. She’d remake the iconic acrylic bags in what was sure to be a more efficient process than that of the ’60s. “I could not have been more wrong,” Heyman laughs. “They are handmade by skilled artisans, and they take forever, so it’s an expensive labor-intensive process, and not a lot of people who work in manufacturing want to take it on.”
Turns out that artistry is exactly what’s made Heyman’s brand so special to consumers who covet the handmade, vintage-inspired bags. So much so that when they aren’t wearing them, many customers display the bags in their homes. Well, that is before Heyman took notice and expanded into home goods with items like vanity trays, tabletop lighters, and the chicest checkers set you can imagine.
Having “something to say” in each product category that Edie Parker enters is something Heyman has instilled deeply into the brand’s DNA, and without that compelling alignment, she is uninterested in expansion. That’s why a product category that may feel shocking to many was, to Heyman, the next natural move for the brand: Flower by Edie Parker. “The use of cannabis is a part of a lot of our lives in the office, and there was just nobody speaking to women like us in that world. … We wanted to bring cannabis out of the shadows in terms of home accessories. We wanted to make you something that was so beautiful that you would display it in a bowl,” says Heyman. With everything from handblown glass pipes to private-label flower—and all the accessories in between—you can be sure you’re looking at your next conversation piece.
If there’s one thing Heyman has mastered—for the record, there are many—it’s how to create strong, unapologetically bold branding, and when you learn that her “first life” was working in PR for brands like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, it all makes sense. Tune in to this week’s episode of Second Life to hear how Heyman made the leap from PR to starting an iconic brand of her own and why she believes “youth is wasted on the young.”