A Fresh Lifestyle Brand: India Hicks

How do you build a brand based on a luxury lifestyle story with a passionate creator?

When a luxury brand begins its birth there is an ideal pedigree or story that might reflect a family and history that gives it a sense of place and origin. Royalty the world over is one of the brand stories that often needs no introduction.  Unique personalities have populated the royal stratosphere in England beginning in the 18th century with the Duchess of Devonshire who is considered the first upper crust ‘style star’.  Fast forward to the early and mid 20th century and you will find a number of unique personalities among them, the father of India Hicks, David Hicks, considered the leader of his generation in Interior Design.  Turning many British castles and country homes into chic palaces of colorful style or smart spaces for the creative elite that reinvented the old classics and refreshed them creating an empire that bore his signature style around the world.  India Hicks, one of three children by his wife, Lady Pamela Mountbatten has taken up the family passion for lifestyles and design in launching her own line INDIA HICKS that expands on her growing collection of lifestyle books.

India Hicks, the creator of her own brand designs accessories and gifts such as handbags, belts, scarves, jewelry and beauty products with the inimitable chic simplicity that is combined with a love of luxury in its DNA.  Her designs are fresh, classic yet re-invented British Luxury inspired that make them easily accessible to everyone making her practically the Martha Stewart of fashion and beauty. Her own history and lifestyle on the islands in the Bahamas is captured in a number of her books on interior style with an exotic island twist.  With years of experience designing products for other companies, the time came when she wanted to step out on her own. But she has done even more to break the mold by expanding the sales platform to include a “tribe” of women who promote the brand in their own communities. This is a key difference in the sales strategy of this luxury brand; the gospel of the brand is spread via a number of representatives who are on the ground sharing the message of the brand and their style curator INDIA HICKS.

What makes a brand based on a personality successful?  There are a number of unique elements that make a personality driven brand work:

  • Leveraging the story of the creator to generate desire for the product and its unique   history and brand message.
  • Passion from the creator who engages the target audience with aspirational  dreams and goals. Creator is as Expert, Curator and Best Friend to the audience.
  • Devotion to the quality of the product in all its details, from packaging to ingredients to manufacturing and quality control.
  • Passing the story on through a message of passionate fans who share in their communities making the message both personal and aspirational.
  • Promote an Aspirational lifestyle that everyone can enjoy and immediately apply in their own busy lives as professionals, power moms, or both.
  • Inspiring the Brand Ambassadors to empower themselves through creating their own business while sharing in their own communities about the brand.
  • Adapting the values, hopes and aspirations of the creator that rings true to all aspects of the business and its products.

India Hick’s brand has already taken hold around the US and will continue to expand by adding more ambassadors to the group as she continues to introduce new products.  Her latest introduction is a series of skincare products that she has developed in chic clean black and white packaging making it easy for travel or a busy lifestyle.

For further information on the products: http://www.indiahicks.com

Note: We recently received the travel package for the new “Unexpected Beauty” and will report back our review on the products at our magazine on fashion and beauty feature at: http://www.artofstyle-magazine.us



The Pink Hat that moved the World: The Pussy Hat Riot

Can the simple wearing of a “Pink Pussy Hat” move the world? 


What we love to talk about here are brand stories.  Not just the ones created by fancy advertising agencies (those are certainly useful and effective) but the authentic stories; the kind that really moves people to action.  In the case of the “Pink Pussy” knit cap, the initial project began in earnest to unite a community.  (pussyhatpwroject.com) (#pussyhat). When this hat project was taken up around the world with its simple ‘home-made’ origins the women who could not attend the marches themselves could still feel a part of the community.  They could make something and pass it along. This is powerful and as a costume designer it re-confirms how powerful an item of clothing can be.  Some have mistakenly taken the color “Pink” to resemble a particular part of a woman’s anatomy but the hat is actually designed to reflect “pink” as a girls “empowerment color” and not literally, as the title suggests. The fact it has taken on almost ‘folkloric’ story and proportions was helped along by a certain exposure of a “tape” spoken by a certain individual also added to its history.

Here is what the originators have to say about the original concept: 

“The aim of Pussyhat Project is not just to make the hat, a singular moment recorded on January 21, 2017. It’s an ongoing movement that uses design to create social change, and inspires people who have felt invisible, feel visible”.

When fashion, and politics mix there is magic, empowerment and yes, even the moving of the political needle. Knitting circles that were already gatherings of women across the country, took up this hat and still do, as one of their projects.  They create the hats, pass them along to friends and sisters, mothers to daughters.  Yes, even some men have joined in to show their support. The hat this year, in 2018 is still powerful, and showed up in the recent protests on the one year anniversary of the Presidential Inauguration; now it means even more as they movement has taken up the cause and call to action: The movement to bring more voters to the polls. More women are and will be running in the upcoming elections, both locally and nationally. This is what a symbolic piece of clothing can do in a society. It is a concept not lost throughout history when kings and queens attempted to regulate the use of fabrics, clothes or types of clothing to the populace.  Yes, back in those medieval days if you weren’t a nobleman, you were not allowed to wear purple cloth; that privilege was reserved for the royal house.

What I see as a brand storyteller is both an individual and collective ownership of an idea and movement that is symbolized by a piece of clothing.  Communities around the world joined in making it one of the most powerful and unifying marches around the world.  The beauty of creation and ingenuity is the varied and colorful interpretations of the original idea, and that is what makes it so beautiful.


Editor’s Note: Thank you to the Los Angeles Times, The Pussyhat Project and Reuters for the images.

Create Your Own Brand of Style: Take it to the Streets for Fashion Week in Paris

What I love about fashion week, is less about the shows, and more about the people.  The people are unique, fashionable, expressive and enjoy the art of fashion and “artifice” at its best.  Our photographer Corinne Rollins was stationed outside some of the shows and discovered this wide range of styles on both audience members, street bloggers, Insta-stars and professional fashionistas.  Truly, you can be your own movie star if you want, and the movies these days are just 30 seconds to one minute long.  Why not?


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The Cult of Personality in Politics

This is not an article about politics. Its an exploration about how a luxury personal brand  became a political one and failed. Our love affair with the cult of celebrity has led us to this point. Trump the “TV STAR” in reality tv world was a huge money maker with his slogan “your fired” that is forever be cemented in the minds of the US TV audience.  He decided after being humiliated by President Barak Obama (at that now infamous Press Dinner) that he would run for President.  After all, how hard could it be?

What did Donald Trump have that the other Republican candidates didn’t have? From a branding standpoint he created an illusion of success with his billions of dollars, a luxury lifestyle that included the model wife and a story of being a self-made man. He was also willing to be a beacon of light for the darker side of politics. Other Republicans had political pedigree or a political inside track as members of the party.  Not very appealing to a public that was tired of feeling that their voices were not being heard.  Washington was a ‘swamp’ where the typical politicians lived and his ‘outsider’ or ‘businessman’ brand appeal seemed like a good idea to voters. He made sure they all felt like they were part of a greater vision to “Make America Great Again’.  This is heady stuff for someone who has never thought he could even be close to a guy like Donald.

What his brand stood for when he promoted the idea that “Barack Obama” was not “an American” and had no birth certificate, was a position that cemented his racist ideas that kicked off the “Trump Train”. The politics of Donald Trump had nothing in common with what was considered a Republican or conservative agenda. He confounded the pundits who declared that anyone running on his platform could not become a President.  “He simply does not have the brand of a president” they all declared.  He proved them wrong.  It could be said that this brand of politics based on a “Populist” philosophy was part of a movement that is now sweeping the world in fits and starts and rising from the ashes of disappointment.

The transposition of a personal luxury brand into a traditional political brand is fraught with difficulties.  As we reflect on how businessman and a ‘so-called’ luxury brand became a President we need to understand the story that was created. Like all old school corporate brands the story is not about authenticity, transparency or empowering to the common man or woman (and especially not to women). Trump’s brand is about luxury and exclusivity which translates into politics as “exclusion”. Politicians need to be inclusive like one of the crowd and people-friendly.  How did Mr. Trump create audience connections? He promised that from his business expertise he would fix stuff that the basic guy didn’t really understand. He reached out from a position that he could create an economy that everyone could participate.  His deal would be the best ever. This is a heady promise to his audience of people who have not felt they are “in the swim” with a vastly changing world of technology or a higher education that might be beyond them. The Trump Brand is one of luxury and is best expressed by the 14k gold chairs he and his family sit on in this magazine photo.  Like an illusion of American Royalty, they sit on their golden thrones as a total re-write of Donal’d’s previous family and children. An entire “brand revision” if you will.

But tonight is a historic night. The American presidency is not just about personality or sheer force of will. It’s a night when the personal brand of Donald Trump could not weather the series of self-inflicted wounds that a successful personal brand wants to avoid.  The unraveling of the brand and its promise began on his first official day in office.  With the murmur of conflicts of interest or secret Russian connections in the background his brand story changed in subtle ways  damaging to his main story.  The force of a brand or a personality does not make a democracy nor does it guarantee anything except the hope that a certain personality can succeed in the given challenges that are the presidency.

If there are flaws in the personality there is trouble in paradise for a personal brand. In public service our nation is not a nation of personalities but of laws.  Tonight we will see how the institutions of our government step forward and act with the full faith and promise of our constitution.  It is going to be the undoing of a personal brand we predict.

Black & White Style is Forever: The Easiest Way to build your Personal Brand.

What did I love the most about the MET RED CARPET? The black and white looks that ruled.  The trend, is a solid classic and wearable for everyone.  While the “Glitterati” look their best in their Black & White trend on the carpet you can take a note to make this your own.  It’s a fantasy trend that can be purchased at TARGET or H&M and on up the retail food chain.  From a branding standpoint there is no mistake:  Black and White is here to stay.  Season-less.  Always Elegant.  For ‘Every Body’. This is the look you can wear to a wedding, a dinner or a special event and no matter what you do its going to ‘up your game’ for your presentation,  a business dinner and even the most casual of meetings.

Black and White has the cool factor of a James Bond Tux, a Rocker T-shirt, a Black denim Jean, a White T-Shirt or a ruffled Tux Shirt or motorcycle jacket.  Iconic fashion pieces or landmarks stay around forever.  James Bond, Patty Smith, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, Cher are just a few of the famous names who embrace the black and white theme.  It’s a Brand Builder for your personal brand that will never let you down.  So go ahead, get it down to a science and never worry about your style ever again.  Really.  Just focus on the best Black or White piece that looks good on your figure, try a jacket, a coat, blazer, or even a cashmere sweater over a slack, pencil skirt or slim LBD.  There are unlimited ways to wear black and white and it will never let you down.

Here is how the glitterati at the Met wore it, and I think we can all agree, it never looked better.