Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Brett: I’ve been collecting acrylic vintage handbags since I was thirteen, my collection includes over 200 pieces.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Brett: I grew up in a very practical household where creativity was encouraged, but not as a viable way to generate an income. But, I always loved creating and making things and spent all my free time painting, drawing, collecting, and dreaming, inspired by my surroundings and particularly by mid-century style.
I knew I wanted to work in fashion, so I entered into fashion PR. I quickly learned a lot about the industry, and worked really hard climbing the ranks.
When I had a baby, my perspective changed. In starting this next chapter of my life, I knew I wanted to do something that would inspire my children so they would see me succeed through my own hard work, doing what I loved. That is how Edie Parker was born, a business named after my daughter.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Brett: Be tastefully irreverent. This is a motto that is embodied in the entire Edie Parker business from our manufacturing to product design to office culture. I believe that taking everything too seriously stifles creativity and doesn’t serve to elevate yourself or those around you.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Brett: Work hard. Stay true to your values. Have fun.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Brett: Be nice to everybody.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Brett: It is really important that my values, most importantly to treat all people with respect, are reflected throughout my business and the work we do. My acrylic bags and accessories are made in America, by factory workers that we’ve trained in artisanal methods.
Essentially, whether you’re operating on behalf of yourself as an individual or on behalf of a business, you should treat others the way you want to be treated.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Brett: I have always been artistic and have loved creating, making and collecting things—painting, playing guitar, making jewelry . . . I never wanted a standard desk job.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been particularly drawn to everything older than I am: design, movies, fashion. My closet was, and still is, chock-full of vintage clothing.
After having children, this creative energy became more important to me than ever, and I wanted to find something that was personally fulfilling and that would inspire my children, something that would show them they could find success following their own passions. “I made a human,” I thought. “How hard can a handbag be?” So with that attitude, I turned my hobby into a business, and reshaped not only my life, but the future for my children.
Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Brett: Thank you for your time.