Thirteen years ago, Brett Heyman launched Edie Parker. Focused on acrylic clutch handbags, which soon became customizable, the brand married Heyman’s lifelong love of collecting vintage with her experience in luxury accessories PR, working for brands including Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci. She got the company off the ground by securing retail partners including Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman and leveraging her stylist contacts to get the bags in the hands of celebrities.
“My background was so helpful [in starting the company],” she said on the latest episode of the Glossy Podcast. “I always tell [budding] founders that it’s really great to work in the industry that you want to break into, [in order] to meet people and to [make] some contacts and have a leg up. … I knew a lot of people. Plus, I knew what was missing. And I knew how to promote it and who to get to promote it.”
In 2016, Heyman expanded Edie Parker’s product assortment to the home decor category. And three years later, she launched the cannabis-adjacent spinoff brand Flower by Edie Parker. Its products include lighters, grinders and rolling papers, all in Edie Parker’s signature colorful, retro aesthetic. Oh, and there’s also a handbag with a retractable lighter that’s taken TikTok by storm and changed the business. With its growth fueled by the Burn Bag‘s sales, just four years in, Flower by Edie Parker now makes up 50% of the company’s total sales.
On the podcast, Heyman discusses how she’s catering to Flower’s “much more engaged,” “much more excited” shoppers, plus how she’s holding true to her brand’s DNA while building a business in a federally illegal industry. Highlights from the conversation, below, have been lightly edited for clarity.
On reinventing the evening bag
“I always joke that life is serious and your accessories don’t have to be — I think that was part of the point [of the brand]. We launched the personalization program about a year after inception, … but in the beginning, I would hand-draw motifs — and I’m not at all talented; the drawings were pretty childish. But the idea was that nobody focused on evening bags as a category, and [the bags at the time] were very serious. They were like miniature versions of a best-selling bag, or they were sleek and satin and beautiful. But I kind of thought, ‘Let’s have fun with [this style] and make it more of a conversation piece and, in its off time, a decor item.’ … It sits on a table, you can put things in it, you can put it in your vanity. And it just makes people happy.”
The viral ‘Burn Bag’
“I love that bag. And I say all day that that bag is not for smokers. It’s for moms whose kids want to make s’mores; it’s for women who want to burn sage; it’s for lighting your incense; it’s for any time you need a light. And it’s like a party trick. At every dinner I go to, I’m lighting the votives or I’m blowing out candles so I can relight them. … Everything we do has a nod to vintage or something that’s come before, and the origin of that bag was really the same. I collect all these old minaudieres, and [some] have lipsticks on the outside. And we just started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if the lipstick [was something else with another] function? Maybe it’s a lighter.’ … [None of us] needs anything, right? … And so, for me, if I’m going to spend money on something, I need it to be sticky, in some way. I need it to feel compelling or have a story. And with the Burn Bag, a lot of people felt that way — and especially coming out of a global pandemic and being home. It’s so fun. It’s so conversational. … It’s a conversation starter, and it’s a party in your hand.”
On navigating the ‘Wild West’ cannabis industry
“We study up. And the thing is that there’s no one to hire. It’s the Wild West, and it’s all so new. And what’s really tricky about working in a federally illegal industry is that the rules are constantly evolving. So you could hire an expert, and in six months, this information could be obsolete. So we have a lawyer who we check with for certain rules and regs, but it’s just extremely complicated. And from state to state, the rules vary, in terms of packaging, packaging compliance, … obviously, the marketing rules vary from state to state. So it’s not a one-size-fits-all [strategy]. And it’s a lot of work.”
Fundraising as a cannabis-adjacent brand
“It’s a tricky space. So technically, where we’ve had a little breathing room is in the fact that we’re not technically plant-touching. While we sell THC products — we will be in six states with THC products this summer, with an expanded SKU count — we basically just license our IP to partners. And so [investors] who don’t want to touch the space can get involved with us still. But it is something that people are wary of.”