Hieatt was co-founder of Howies and founder of Do Lectures.
Started talk by asking audience to pass around a pair of jeans his company had made. Each person to look and feel for six seconds and pass on. Person who has them when talk finishes gets a pair made for them.
Forty years of making jeans in Cardigan. Closed in 2001 – 400 out of 4,000 people lose jobs. Imagine stopping the thing that you are best at. That is the context in Cardigan, Hieatt’s home town.
Four years ago, he sold Howies and then he tried to buy it back. Had to work out what he was good at. A good brand builder but not that useful in Cardigan.
He decided he was going to make jeans. He then realised he could change the town. This was his bigger purpose. He needed more than a desire to make money. Purpose drives passion – it is the wind in your sales.
Got six months of orders immediately he opened the web site. Then closed website for eight weeks so he could get people in to start making the jeans. I had happened to be the guy who wanted to make jeans – and the town could make them, he said.
Now has 10 people and is trying to get work back for 400 people. The company is surrounded by good feeling and sentiment but that doesn’t grow business.
Being the best is not good enough – the competition has huge marketing budgets. So, we have to have ideas. Our mission is: how do we change the business model? That’s how we will beat the best.
The things we own tell stories about us. He takes his jeans with him and passes them around wherever he is. Hieatt is fascinated by meeting of how business works and how internet enables us to tell and share stories.
The jeans have a unique number powered by historytag.com.
And guess what? The second-hand jeans market is bigger than the first-hand jeans market. Will people be interested in the story of jeans, asks Hieatt. They might be.
The jeans market
80% ofjeans are washed to make them look old. Our niche is in unwashed jeans. We need to play in the washed jeans market but we don’t want to (impact on environment). How to solve the problem?
Denim breaker club
50 pairs of jeans for students – they sign up to wearing them and agree never to wash them. Monitor what you do with them, send back and we will wash them once. They get a 20% stake in the jeans. They are our washing machine. But, our job is ideas and this might fall flat on our face. But we have to try.
Maybe the bankers have done something good because they slowed everything down. We need to come up with new ideas – now we have to come up with our biggest boldest, greatest ideas.
How doe we give our town its relevance? If we are told to stop doing what we do best we would probably like to think of new ways of being able to do that.