By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire
⏰ 5-minute read
Marin Hopper and John Goldstone are the power couple behind Hayward Luxury, a preeminent American heritage brand that manufactures luxury handbags.
Goldstone credits the brand’s success--which includes business with the world’s top fashion retailers--to a unique brand story that is well-told through design, production and distribution.
No matter the industry, brands can utilize Hayward Luxury’s brand storytelling techniques to grow their influence.
Great brands use storytelling to engage with their customers. Hayward Luxury, an American-made, Hollywood-inspired handbag manufacturer, provides a worthy example of brand storytelling done right.
Marin Hopper and John Goldstone are the married power couple behind the company, which they founded in 2006. The pair channeled a rich family history and their talents in fashion and television to build the next great American heritage brand. And other brands, no matter the industry or background, can use the duo’s techniques to do the same.
Developing Hayward Luxury’s brand story
Hopper, a former fashion executive, conceptualized Hayward Luxury out of her family ties to Hollywood’s earliest days. She is the daughter of entertainment icons Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward, and her grandfather, Leland Hayward, was a prominent agent during Hollywood’s Golden Age who co-founded both Universal Pictures and Southwest Airlines. At one point, Hopper’s grandfather was married to fashion icon Slim Keith. Her godmother is Jane Fonda.
Needless to say, Hopper grew up immersed in the world of fashion, art and entertainment. She comes from a cohort of American visionaries who influenced industries from film to aviation. As overall purveyors of California style, the Hayward-Hopper legacy impacted millions.
Actress Brooke Hayward--and the rest of Hopper's family--inspire Hayward Luxury's brand story.
Hopper left corporate fashion with a will to start her own brand. (She chose handbags because of their strong profit margin and general absence of fit issues.) She knew a brand story would be integral to success, and it was clear that her family legacy was the theme to follow. So she recruited her husband Goldstone, a producer, for help. The duo set out to develop a brand that was both distinctly American and steeped in the style and rich history of the Hayward-Hopper family.
⭐️ The lesson: The lesson here is not that you need a famous family to start a lifestyle brand. Rather, Hayward Luxury’s origin story illustrates that you do need to draft an authentic brand story that will resonate with your customers and connect to the products you create.
Telling the brand story
Hayward Luxury communicates the Old Hollywood brand story primarily through its carefully designed handbags. Craftsmen hand-stitch each bag using some of finest materials on the planet such as exotic leathers, suede and silk. The pieces are timeless yet modern in appeal and feature bold patterns to serve as links to Hopper’s glamorous and artistic family heritage. They’re sold at top-tier brick-and-mortar retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Selfridges and via online platforms like Moda Operandi and Shopbop.
Hayward Luxury handbags feature high-quality materials.
The “American-made” aspect of the brand story is also communicated through the venue in which the bags are made. Goldstone purchased a historic factory in Manhattan after realizing its alignment with Hayward Luxury’s “heritage, American-owned” branding, he said. He also saw his purchase as helping to re-ignite the long-ignored American manufacturing sector, he added.
“When I found [the factory], I recognized it as a jewel,” said Goldstone. “And as an entity, I knew it could give voice to the products that Marin wanted to create.”
The factory is the hub for Hayward Finesse, a manufacturing company that Hopper and Goldstone own and operates. Hayward Finesse produces handbags for Hayward Luxury and other handbag brands to rival Europe’s best luxury products. And yet, like the Hayward-Hopper family, the bags are proudly American-made.
⭐️ The lesson: Hayward Luxury’s brand ethos extends beyond the company website and marketing material and into the actual production facility. This concept is important as consumers look for transparency in today’s brands, especially in retail where fast fashion and environmental impact have become hot topics. The point is, a brand story can only hold up if the company exemplifies the values it proclaims. Purchasing a factory might not be feasible for most companies, but there are undoubtedly steps you can take to tell your brand story through the design, production and distribution of your product or service.
Pushing the brand story further
Goldstone and Hopper strive to continue telling their brand story in new and inventive ways. The company’s flagship store in New York, Hayward House, is a prime example.
Housed in the iconic Grosvenor Atterbury Mansion on 70th Street, the store is a restored New York home turned retail space. Inside, visitors can view and purchase the entire collection of Hayward Luxury handbags, as well as journey into the brand and family story. They might ogle items from the Leland Hayward archives, photographs taken by Dennis Hopper or paintings of fashion icon Slim Keith. The family tree is displayed in photographs and printed on the tissue paper used to stuff bags. Hayward House is a story-driven retail location intended to leave visitors with a permanent, visceral memory.
Hayward House is the brand's retail space in New York City, designed to further tell the brand story.
Hopper and Goldstone are also pushing the brand story further with Hopper Goods, an ode to Hopper’s father. The brand epitomizes a California-cool aesthetic with offerings of clothing, hats, bags and sunglasses. To promote Hayward Luxury and Hopper Goods, Goldstone is looking to produce a film or miniseries about Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward’s lives in the 1960s. He said the project will be not only a piece of entertainment but also a kind of brand origin story.
“It could be the like Hollywood version of ‘The Crown,’” said Goldstone. “It would be all about the Hayward-Hopper family story, and subsequently, the brands.”
⭐️ The lesson: After you’ve mastered one or two methods of telling your brand story, dream up more. Branded content is rarely a bad place to start, as it’s changing the way brands reach consumers in a variety of industries.
🌱 The bottom line
In developing Hayward Luxury, Hopper and Goldstone wisely leaned in to their family history, turning it into a brand story that gives them a competitive advantage.
Consider taking a page from their playbook: Identify what about your brand’s history or products make it truly unique. Then, find ways to tell that brand story through design, production and distribution, and continue pushing for more.
📚 More company growth stories:
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Sailing Past the Competition: How a Mom-and-Pop Grew Into a Big-Time Nautical Retailer
3 Students, 2 Helicopters and 1 YouTube Video: The Story of Thankyou Group