Brett Heyman

BY Anum Bashir

Tall, beautiful, witty, and smart – these are just a few ways to describe Brett Heyman (founder and creative mind behind cult accessories brand, Edie Parker). On my recent trip to New York City, Brett and I got together (on her birthday in fact), and in a matter of minutes, it seemed I had made a cool new friend. She warmly welcomed me into their Madison Avenue studio, and we instantly got to chatting – sharing our views on politics, to our individual experiences within the fashion industry, and so much more. Here’s what I got to know about Brett and Edie Parker, and we’re sharing it with you on this month’s edition of DM Digs.

Right off the bat, Brett shared a fascination of wanting to know about my life, and growing up in the Middle East, while I, on the other hand, was keen to understand how she got to where she is today. We could have talked for hours. That's the thing about smart women... they never stop inspiring you!

Apart from a dedicated design team playing with materials fabrics, and motifs, one can obviously also find clutches and jewelry of all sizes, shapes and colors, scattered around the various workspaces.
We sat around a coffee table with fresh flowers, birthday cards, books, and in between eclectic furniture placed all around, including a dazzling and colorful Murano chandelier she scored on Etsy that overlooks all the action.

AB: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

BH: I was born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where I lived until I was ten years old. Then I moved with my family to Los Angeles, so I have a good balance of both East and West Coast attitudes. I now live back where I started in NYC.

AB: What was your childhood like?

BH: Long. I couldn't wait to grow up. But very happy and filled with laughter. 

AB: Your earliest fashion related memory?

BH: My mom was very interested in fashion so it was always a part of my life. My earliest memory is being embarrassed because she picked me up at elementary school in a leather dress. Looking back the dress was Gianfranco Ferre; it was absolutely amazing, and is currently in my possession, but I didn't appreciate it then. 

AB: Childhood dreams/ heroes?

BH: I don't remember ever wanting a career other than working in fashion. Except for the summer I won the pottery award at school and camp and thought about being a potter. :)

AB: When did you know you wanted to become a designer and launch your own label?

BH: I really just wanted to remake the acrylic bags that I had been collecting since high school and couldn't find anymore. I didn't think much beyond that singular item. After about five years I realized there was so much more I wanted to do. 

AB: How did that journey start? How did Edie Parker come to be? Tell us a little bit about the name of the brand too.

BH: I had been working in the PR departments at Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana for nearly eight years, covering accessories and then eventually all product categories. In my opinion, there was no one young or cool focusing on 'small' bags or 'evening' bags. When I had my first child eight years ago - her name is Edie Parker Heyman - my desire to be more creative overflowed and I started researching the amazing bags from the mid-century and their long lost fabrication techniques. I wanted to recreate the aforementioned acrylic bags that I had collected and loved for a new generation.

AB: What is your usual daily routine like?

BH: I have three children so I'm up very early and I'm often very tired. I drink lots of espresso, drop them off at school, do a little happy jig and come to work. I try to sneak out for some pilates and maybe a lunch, but mostly I'm at my desk and having a pretty good time. In the evening I go home to hang with my children and most nights I sneak out for dinner or cocktails after I put them to bed. 

AB: Favorite color?

BH: Mint green. 

AB: Favorite food?

BH: Soft cheese. 

AB: Vices?

BH: Vodka and the Real Housewives of any city. And soft cheese. 

AB: Pet peeves?

BH: People who walk into an elevator without letting the people currently inside exit first. It infuriates me. And people who read their phones while they walk on the street and expect you to get out of their way. 

AB: Take us inside your design process.

BH: We start with an item. Maybe its a picture, maybe its an old bag or recently an old embroidered hat. We pick colors and new silhouettes. Lately we have been really expanding the breadth of product. We have so many ideas we have to edit ourselves over and over or else we would do way too much.

AB: What is the toughest part of being an accessories designer?

BH: We don't have an identity created by a ready to wear collection that is easy for people to understand. Our accessories are the collection and they always have to be very strong because of it.

AB: What are some of your favorite pieces you've designed over the years?

BH: I'm really proud of lots of them! What sometimes doesn't come through is how much work goes into each and every bag. Every little dot, line, detail is cut out by hand, inlaid and buffed by hand. So sometimes they look deceptively simple but each one is a work of art in my opinion. And like art, some pieces are better than others!

AB: Who do you design for? Who is the Edie Parker woman/girl?

BH: She is a version of me, and she is a version of me ten years ago, and a version of me ten years from now. She appreciates fashion, knows trends but isn't trendy, cares about quality and individuality, and can take a compliment. Because when you wear an Edie Parker bag you will get lots of questions and compliments. From everyone. For real! 

AB: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?

BH: When something is very popular it will be copied. Don't let it bother you. Just keep innovating.

AB: If there's one place in the world you could be, where would it be?

BH: Between my children. 

AB: If you weren't a designer, what would you be?

BH: Relaxed. 

AB: One piece of advice you would give to budding/ aspiring designers?

BH: You don't have to do everything. Pick one item or category and do it well. 

AB: What's next for Edie Parker?

BH: Keep expanding breadth of handbags and adding new product categories including eyewear, jewelry and more home pieces.

AB: A fun fact about you no one knows?

BH: I like to play folk songs on my guitar and sing badly.

You can shop Edie Parker's latest collection here, or if you're feeling creative, and prefer to go bespoke, you can click here

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