I have always loved India Hicks and her laid back, classic style. I’ve read all of her fantastic books and I love her collection as it has an Hermes feel to it. I used to see her in Ralph Lauren campaigns, buy her Crabtree and Evelyn products, and always admired her for “running away” to the Bahamas to live life on her own terms. For those who don’t know, India is an aristocrat – albeit an unconventional one. Her family lineage is that of fairy tales: she is a granddaughter of Lord Mountbatten, goddaughter and second cousin to Prince Charles (she was a bridesmaid at his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer), and great-great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria. But in addition to all that she’s an author, mother, designer, a bit of a rebel… and you can now tack “entrepreneur” to the list.
India Hicks launched her clothing, jewelry, and accessories brand to help women get back in the workforce… and on their own terms. Hicks wants to empower women to run their own businesses, succeed financially and independently, and have access to luxury goods. It’s a lifestyle brand that promotes what’s known as “attainable luxury.” As she said in an interview with Forbes, “I really want women from all walks of life to feel comfortable shopping India Hicks.” And these women range from those who have given up successful careers to raise a family, those who are older with more time on their side, or those who are just smart, savvy, and entrepreneurial (or all of the above).
The business model is essentially the Tupperware party refashioned (literally): ambassadors organize parties with the collection on display. The ambassadors take orders which are then delivered directly to the customer. The ambassadors also recruit other ambassadors to be on their teams.
According to Hicks, “We often say to our tribe of Ambassadors: live a more extraordinary life, stand on your own two feet, do something for yourselves…I always say that I haven’t necessarily lived an extraordinary life, but I’ve certainly lived an unexpected life. Having come from a rather traditional upbringing to then find myself living on a tiny island in the middle of a tropical ocean was certainly not what I expected. So I draw from those two sides of my life, and I think that that gives our brand something very unique, and sets us apart from anything else out there. We tell stories.”
And it’s true. Just like the ambassadors, the products have unique backstories – all conveying the message that it’s important to be an individual. For example, the Madly Deeply bag gets its name from the time when India ditched her map of the Grand Canyon, made her way all the way down to the bottom, and slept at in a cave with nesting bats. Just like the cave/canyon the bag goes on and on and on and on. Or The Duchess of Windsor bag, named after “the most stylish woman in the world in the 1940s.” It’s a computer case designed as a handbag. “I always wanted to have what she had, hopping between her worlds Nassau, London and Paris, so I designed a bag that I think the Duchess of Windsor would have carried if she’d had a computer in 1940.” Then there’s the Carmen Clutch, named after a family friend. “She was a wonderful Spanish aristocrat who ran off with a bull fighter. That’s the kind of woman that I aspire to be — one who stands on her own two feet, lives life very individually and doesn’t necessarily do what is expected of her.”
The India Hicks collection represents stories and it’s easy to see the fun in telling them, injecting your own, or wanting to go out and create your own. When it comes to her brand messaging Hicks says she doesn’t have one. Instead, she says, “Let’s have a really good time and buy some beautiful stuff while we’re doing it… The more serious part of my business is not just for women to fall in love with our stuff but to see the potential in themselves. Women get caught up in being good mothers, partners, daughters. We need to get back to being us. They can run this business on their own terms, in their own time. There’s something very powerful in that.”