How one high-end fashion brand sought to woo its fans with cannabis – and found a new audience in the process

cannabis brand fashion, How one high-end fashion brand sought to woo its fans with cannabis – and found a new audience in the process

(This story is part of the cover package in the August issue of MJBizMagazine.)

Since high school, Brett Heyman sought out acrylic clutch purses from the 1950s and ’60s. But over time, they became harder to find. That’s when the former Gucci public relations manager saw an opportunity to reproduce the purses and sell them herself.

Heyman launched a high-end clutch-manufacturing business in 2010, naming it Edie Parker after her daughter. The clutches landed in stores such as Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue—as well as on red carpets, held by the likes of Emma Roberts, Kate Hudson and Solange Knowles. The most expensive Edie Parker clutches sell for north of $1,800.

Heyman followed her accessories offerings in 2016 with a successful home collection. When it was time to extend the Edie Parker brand once again, she didn’t want to do it with something that might be expected of a fashion brand. That meant no shoes or ready-wear lines.

An unconventional extension

Instead, Heyman chose cannabis.

“We were trying to make things that didn’t already exist or weren’t oversaturated,” she said. “Our office is a small team of women. … We were aware of what was happening in terms of (marijuana) legalization, and we all like cannabis. So we started thinking, ‘How come people don’t treat cannabis accessories like other home accessories, even bar accessories?’”

Heyman’s team came up with a line of cannabis accessories that were meant to be functional but also decorative and displayed rather than hidden: ceramic one-hitters, stash boxes, lighters and other items decorated in Edie Parker’s now well-known motifs.

That project led Heyman and her team to look at dispensaries, and they concluded that there were no cannabis brands that catered to a consumer “who had a little bit of style.”

In spring 2019, Heyman launched Flower by Edie Parker, a flower and pre-roll brand that comes in brightly colored packaging. Today, Flower by Edie is sold in Illinois and Massachusetts through a licensing agreement with New York-based multistate operator Ascend Wellness Holdings. Heyman said she wanted flower that was neither low-potency nor high-potency but something in the medium range, so her brand’s THC level typically lands between 16% and 24%.

“If you want the highest THC for the cheapest amount of money, you don’t have to come to us. That’s no problem. We think there is going to be enough weed … that appeals to everybody,” Heyman said. “I think having more loaded options is inevitable. … I think that’s probably more of a future customer, but we’ll get there.”

Women and beyond

When Heyman launched Flower by Edie, she was thinking about women as the brand’s likely audience. She felt the fan base of Edie Parker enthusiasts she had built over nine years would prove to be cannabis consumers—and she was right.

“We had certain brand values, we had a look and a style. So, whether she was new to cannabis or was discovering cannabis or already loved cannabis, we felt like we were safely different in the space,” Heyman said.

But Edie Parker’s cannabis consumer base didn’t develop the way Heyman expected it to.

“When we entered the space, we thought that we would be speaking to the same girl. We thought we would be speaking to the women who bought our clutches and were aware of our red-carpet presence and that we would sell them cannabis. But what’s happened much more is that we’ve sort of created a new customer base that doesn’t necessarily overlap,” Heyman said. “A lot of the customers who found us through cannabis were not aware of Edie Parker. We thought we would lean on that existing customer a little bit more, but that hasn’t actually happened.”

Heyman said the Flower by Edie customer trends a little bit younger than the Edie Parker fashion customers, which she attributes to a lower price point than the brand’s high-end bags.

Another surprise: Men buy the flower, too.

“I think that is in large part due to the packaging,” Heyman said. “I think packaging in cannabis has been kind of secondary, or it’s been duplicative or inspired by something else and not really that original. … People respond really well to our packaging.”

Points of differentiation

Heyman also tries to differentiate the Flower by Edie brand from its competitors with creative advertising and social media content. Most cannabis brands focus on strains and cultivators, which is not very original in Heyman’s eyes.

“We come to cannabis as a fashion brand, where it’s always about what’s new, what’s exciting, what’s interesting, what’s grabbing people’s attention,” she said. “That’s how we approach our cannabis social media, just coming up with things that feel really juicy and fun and playful.”

As examples, Heyman cited a Flower by Edie tag line, For a Good Time, as well as its “Weed’s Come A Long Way, Baby” ads that recall famous Virginia Slims advertisements.

“While we are also excited about all the health and wellness benefits around cannabis, and we believe that there’s obviously a lot of serious conversations to be had about decriminalization and expungement … we are also unabashedly women who think it’s fun to get high. So that’s a way we talk about cannabis, too.”

That approach has helped them counter marijuana snobs who don’t like the idea of a fashion icon entering the industry.

“We think there are a lot of people who are very comfortable with why we’re entering it and how, again, we participate in the conversations around normalization,” Heyman said. “The fact that we are a fresh fashion brand, that we have a certain set of values that we’ve demonstrated for 10-plus years, that we’re all cannabis lovers, we feel like these are enough credible reasons for us to enter the space.”