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In 2002, the doors to Cardigan’s jeans factory were shut. 400 people lost their jobs.

Ten years later, David & Clare Hieatt bought jeans manufacturing back to Cardigan – and started their mission to bring those jobs back to their town.

Today, they are laser-focused on manufacturing the greatest jeans in the world, counting Meghan Markle and creatives across the world as customers.

We admire the heck out of everyone at Hiut, so, James and I thought we would visit to see what we could learn.

This is part two of a three-part series. For part one on how Hiut Denim create spaces for creativity head here.

In this episode, we focus on Hiut’s Co-Founder – David Hieatt.

David Hieatt is an entrepreneurial hero of James’ and I.

He is a purveyor of slow growth, of building things with meaning, and of clear thinking.

Much of what has gone into The Marketing Meetup has come from observing David’s work.

So we felt so lucky to spend a day with the man. And here’s what we learned 🙂

Thinking about time differently

As the video (above!) opens – you hear a quote from David:

“Common sense has been turned into this radical thing.
Common sense is now marketing.
I think we should now have ‘no outcome marketing’.
When you chase the outcome the entire time, I don’t know if we’ll get the best outcome we want:”

This, to me, sums up David. The words were quietly ushered. Profound. Taking things back to basics. Clear.

And those are important traits because the world feels like it moves so fast it’s almost a blur. Yet David seems to be able to walk through life and pick the core of what feels important and focus on that. He’s doing the things he wants to do – not the things that keeps him on the treadmill.

My observation is this is down to how David sees time.

In David’s webinar with us, he shared you ‘don’t judge the success of an oak tree after its first year’. He seems unfazed by the idea that things will take years or decades. To me, that feels a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by quick wins, hacks, and overnight successes.

And in the man, therefore feels like he is content to be there in the moment. Slowly yet meaningfully growing people, businesses – things with meaning. It’s not ‘this needed to be done yesterday’, it’s ‘this needs to be done well’. And, often ‘done well’ leads to ‘the outcome we want’.

Even typing this, I can feel my shoulders relaxing. We don’t half rush about sometimes, eh? David is an example of someone who doesn’t – and the outcome is quite special. I think most of us can learn from that.

Thinking about moving forwards

But don’t confuse thinking slow and long term with not looking for the next thing. David really seems to enjoy the game of business. Combining his view on the world with a sense of commercialism has made him the success he is today.

To give an example: David was early on the bitcoin train. He spent much of the afternoon telling us how to think about how we can tokenise the community using NFTs.

And all this comes from a desire to know more and to be better: you get the sense he’s a real lifelong learner in the truest sense of the word.

As you walk into his home office, you get this sense in a very visual way. Custom made bookcases are stuffed with books. Every surface has a book on it.

And that’s because David reads… constantly. Every book is read twice to really digest things. It’s not about ‘more’ books, it’s about really reading a book. Spotting a theme yet?

All in all – it feels a bit like a magic trick. The man combines a sense of what is important always, with an awareness of what is coming up that will shift that sense of importance.

Reflecting on that, the balancing point appears to be not worrying about the micro-changes day to day, but embracing the macro things that will change all of our lives. That allows headspace for not having to keep up with every trend, while also not being left behind. That seems important!

Be the best in the world

One of my favourite quotes from the day was:

“No one says we can’t be the best in the world”

This one doesn’t take too much explaining, other than to say it really landed for me. As someone who’s mentally is more likely to be ‘we’ll do what we can to survive’ – this little quote gave a little view into the mindset of the man, and in turn inspired me to reorientate my thinking.

David sums this way of thinking up nicely here:

David Hieatt’s Rituals

The presence and clarity, in part, seem to be from a ritual that David starts each morning with.

It also reminded me of an idea James Routledge shared in the webinar he did with us. Rituals… not routines.

Rituals are things you are in the moment and are actively engaged in. The grinding of your coffee, your morning run… act as grounding tethers throughout the day.

For David, first is a sea swim (we replicated and can confirm it’s bloody freezing).

Then at least two hours of writing.

Finally, David reads E.B. White’s Letter to Someone Who Lost Faith in Humanity.

“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate.

Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.”

I joked that his morning routine must take him until lunch… but that’s probably the truth! Nonetheless, it again feels important. It’s not about doing things quick: it’s about doing the important things.

Gratitude

There was a lovely moment where this was all summed up for me. David was describing the moment he got the singer of his favourite band, Radiohead, to come to his farm and speak at his incredible annual event – The DO Lectures.

The broadest grin ran across his face as he described the day and the moment. You could tell for a second he was taken back to that scene in his head.

And the reason he was recalled that memory with such joy is David seems to be able to live in the moment. Everything I’ve written about in this article evidences that.

The magic there is he just seems to have nailed it when it comes to enjoying life. Being there in the moment. Creating great experiences. Doing something with meaning. It’s all stuff we strive for – I think David lives it. It’s not his business prowess or material items that impress me. It’s just this. We only get one shot, and for me, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone living it on their own terms. He seems grateful for it, and I’m grateful to be able to observe it.

David Hieatt

David is someone who ‘has his head screwed on right’ as my grandparents would say.

He is someone who knows what is important in a business context and focuses relentlessly on that.

I like him. I think he’s cool. I think he’s doing good things. And I’m grateful for a day spent with him and my best mate – a fab work experience, experience 🙂

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