“The only thing he cared about was everything.”

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One of my advertising heroes, George Lois, once said “the accurate measure of a human being is what he or she actually gets done.” By these standards, David Hieatt is doing OK so far. I imagine many readers of this blog will know of him. For those who don’t, he’s an ultra-inspiring bloke: a passionate builder of brands, maker of things and do-er of stuff.

Hieatt started out as a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi London. Working under Paul Arden for seven years, he learned from the master about turning obsessiveness into creative greatness. “The only thing he cared about was everything”, wrote Hieatt after Arden’s death.

He worked his way up to the board at Abbott Mead Vickers. But despite his successful advertising career, he had a passion for making his own stuff and left to set up Howies, the much loved organic and ethical clothes brand. He eventually sold Howies to Timberland, a decision he now regrets. He seems frustrated by where Timberland have taken the brand but he says, “It’s the past, and you can’t look back. The future is too exciting to be dwelling on the past.”

After Howies, Hieatt and his wife Clare set up The Do Lectures. It’s a kind of TED-style thing, but with one important difference: the talks don’t just make you think about things, they inspire and encourage you to get up and DO stuff.

Hieatt subsequently set up Hiut Denim in Cardigan Bay, Wales. The area has a history of denim making but the industry had closed down as a result of production being cheaper overseas. Hiut tapped back into the skillbase of the Cardigan area and got the industry up and running again, creating more jobs and some of the best jeans in the world. Jeans with a unique idea and philosophy behind them. Hiut Denim personalises their jeans and gives each of their jeans a story, a history. Hieatt believes that an artist should always sign their work, so each pair of jeans is signed by the people that helped make them. Each pair also comes with a ‘History Tag’: when you buy your jeans, you go to the website and register their unique number. Then you can upload pictures of where you went, what you did, who you did it with…to the HistoryTag website. So those memories get saved. And when you look back or pass the jeans on, the memories will live on with them. Lovely idea, eh? The jeans are very expensive, but you’re paying for amazing quality and the breadth of passion behind them.

Whether you’re a maker of ads, ornaments or IT systems, I urge you to read David Hieatt’s principles for making things – they’re packed with truth, insight, integrity and inspiration.

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About antmelder
Creative Partner at DDB Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

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