I always thrifted.
I grew up in L.A., and I collected everything. Truly, it was like hoarding. I would go to all the flea markets and collect all kinds of vintage clothes and accessories, and lots of handbags. Acrylic bags, wicker bags, woven bags, magazine bags—really everything. I was just obsessed.
I kept them all until I moved to New York after college. I just had no space. My parents moved out of their house in L.A., so I had nowhere to put anything. I kept most of the acrylic bags because those were the ones that I found I wore most often. Any time I wore an acrylic bag there was always a reaction. Either a sense of nostalgia—someone would come up to me and say, “Oh my gosh, my grandma or my aunt had a bag like that!”—or a sense of curiosity, like, “What is that?”
You can go into pretty much any secondhand shop and find an acrylic clutch from the ’50s. The quality and condition will vary dramatically, but there’s always some old, yellowed acrylic bag from someone’s closet. What changed things was eBay: eBay and Etsy drove prices way up, and acrylic bags became much more scarce.
When I graduated college, I got a job in public relations at Gucci. I covered accessories, then did that at Dolce & Gabbana, and then went back to Gucci as the director of PR. I had a sense for the accessories market and what people didn’t do. Nobody really made evening bags that were at all fun. It was always very serious, very ornamented, very mature.
When I had a baby in 2009, my whole life changed. All my creative impulses came bubbling up again. I like to say that I made a human, and I figured, How hard could a handbag be?
Launching Edie Parker was difficult, and I made so many mistakes because in so many respects I had no idea what I was doing. I was lucky because the things that I was good at—brand building and relationships with stores, stylists, and celebrities from my past—meant that we were able to get brand recognition fairly quickly. It was a time, pre-microinfluencer, when the red carpet really meant something.
A super pregnant Kate Hudson wore our bag to the Met Gala in 2011. She was wearing that champagne satin gown. That was our first red carpet appearance. Nobody knew who we were. We weren’t even in stores; we were going into Barneys the next month. That was a huge moment for us.
We were able to achieve a lot in a short amount of time. But I didn’t know how to manage a factory. I didn’t know how to do costing correctly. I didn’t even know product development was a department.
Because I didn’t have any training, I think I was always afraid to let people know my struggles.
You learn by failing a lot and doing things differently the next time. Finding mentors is great. I should have done that more because I certainly had access to people and just didn’t ask enough questions. I didn’t have any training—I didn’t go to design school, I didn’t work at someone’s house before I started a line. Because I didn’t have any training, I think I was always afraid to let people know my struggles. We had so much PR and red carpet success, people were like, “Your brand’s doing great!” and I was afraid to say, “Yes, but I don’t know what I’m doing in XYZ areas.”
Now I’m the opposite. I’ll call 45 people if I’m stuck on something, because everyone’s gone through some version of what you’re going through at any given time. That doesn’t mean they have the right advice or that their experience is applicable, but it’s helpful to talk to people. I think over time I realized that I had so many people in my life who had done things better than I was doing, and they all asked a million questions. I saw them seeking advice and I thought, Well, this is very useful. I’m going to do the same thing.
We launched the Edie Parker home accessory line in 2016. As I started to think about how to expand the home collection, I thought about how I entertained at home, or gifts I wanted to bring to a friend’s house. Our lives now are much more about being at friends’ homes than about going out to bars, and the use of cannabis is very often a part of that. I started to think about what was on the market, and even though there are beautiful, super-minimalist pipes or old-timey, masculine accessories that you can buy, there was nothing that really spoke to me. I felt like there was an opportunity to expand into that world in a way that people hadn’t.
My relationship with cannabis mirrors our brand ethos, which is: “For a good time.”
My relationship with cannabis mirrors our brand ethos, which is: “For a good time.” I smoked in high school and then took a break for a long time. It was really my husband who reintroduced me when we started dating, because he was a cannabis consumer in a very positive way. For me, it's not about anti-anxiety, although that's nice. It's not about health and wellness. It's really just about enjoying being high.
We have a weekend house up in Connecticut, and that's mostly when I smoke. Everything is just a little bit better. Colors are prettier, walks are nicer. It’s very positive for me. It’s like, do I want to have sex? Do I want to go to sleep? Do I want to take a walk? It’s recreational.
While all of the health benefits around cannabis are real—and I’m thrilled that those are the benefits—when we thought about doing this as a brand, that’s not what I wanted from it. I think it’s nice to just unabashedly be like, “Yeah, I like to get high and this is fun.”
Flower by Edie Parker is inspired by a 1960s aesthetic. I don’t collect vintage smoking accessories because they’re really expensive, but I collect images of Cartier smoking accessories from the 1960s and 1970s. There was this romance around what your table looked like, and what your ashtray looked like. I don’t smoke cigarettes at all, but I’ve always loved ashtrays.
Our bags have always been handmade by skilled artisans in Illinois and Italy, and for the smoking accessories it’s all the same. We work with a glass blower out of Eugene, Oregon, and a couple of ceramicists in Nashville and Atlanta. One has a kiln in her kitchen. It’s all small batch quantities.
Our top sellers are the glass pipes, the tabletop lighters with ashtrays, and the rolling papers. The rolling papers are funny because they’re sold the most at our Edie Parker boutique. It’s an add-on when people buy a bag or another item. I think there are people who have bought rolling papers who don’t even smoke. They just think they’re beautiful.
Using cannabis is as commonplace for me as having a glass of wine or a drink, and it’s usually both.
Once we started working on Flower by Edie Parker, selling our own cannabis to sit with those products seemed like a good idea. It turned out to be incredibly challenging. I’d launch a handbag company every day before I’d try to launch cannabis again.
We got hooked up with the people from Flow Kana, which is an amazing aggregator of farms up in the Emerald Triangle. We’ve always been committed with our accessories and our bags to a very high quality product, and we feel like our cannabis is no different. But the regulations are so impossible, and they’re ever-changing. The packaging restrictions are crazy. It’s been really difficult to come from our world and try to figure all that out, but we did it and we’re very proud of it.
In my best version of events, I thought that a handbag brand from New York with a shop on Madison Avenue could aid in the mainstreamification of cannabis. We have a lot of people—especially women who are my parents’ generation—who are coming back to cannabis, and they don’t know what they want. I thought, Wow, we’re a brand they know and trust. We’re a brand that they’ve been buying for 10 years now. So if we have mini pre-rolls, maybe they’ll feel comfortable buying from us.
Using cannabis is as commonplace for me as having a glass of wine or a drink, and it’s usually both. You know, we’re New York people. I feel like everybody in L.A. is like “L.A. sober,” but we still drink alcohol, too. Whether it’s the beginning or end of a night, cannabis is always around and it’s not a big deal. My kids are aware of it. We treat it like we treat having a cocktail: just something that grown-ups get to do to relax, to have fun.
I’m from Brentwood, home of O.J. Simpson. My friends and I all smoked weed, but we hid it. I didn’t have hippie parents or parents who got high in the ’60s. They’re East Coasters, and they certainly did not think it was cool. So for me it was very much: This is illegal. You have to hide this. We would smoke out of an apple and destroy the evidence.
My husband and I talk about it a lot with our kids. They’re old enough to be aware of my business, so they had a lot of questions about Flower. We talked about it as an educational thing. We talked a lot about the Nixon administration and criminal justice reform and targeting communities of color, and also about drinking responsibly and smoking responsibly and having to be of a certain age. There’s no point in hiding it from them. I wouldn’t, like, rip a bowl in front of them, but they know that it happens, and they know that we’re responsible about it. Also, Edie Parker is named after my daughter, so I feel like I owe it to her to tell her what her name is on.
Edie Parker is named after my daughter, so I feel like I owe it to her to tell her what her name is on.
I feel like I’ve had a total education since getting into the cannabis business. I’ve learned so much. We have two different Instagram handles, one for Edie Parker and one for Edie Parker Flower. I handle the comments and DMs on them, and the cannabis community is so engaged and so socially conscious. They care so much about helping with criminal justice reform. They care about the quality of the flower and want to know where it’s from. I find that incredibly, incredibly motivating and inspiring, and it does not exist in the fashion crowd that I deal with. I know that people in fashion, more and more, care about sustainability and waste, but this crowd is amazing.
We’re setting up a foundation and a 501(c)(3), which takes so much longer than you’d think. Getting approvals and having lawyers do all the paperwork, it can be a hassle. We’re partnering with the Women’s Prison Association and figuring out exactly what that partnership looks like. They do amazing work and have a bunch of great family programs, and I’m for anything that we can do to help women and children, in any way.
After being married for 12 years, I think that everybody should add cannabis and sex into their marriage. It makes everything better. It makes touch better. I'm not inhibited with my husband anymore, but even still, it just makes inhibitions go away.
On our first date, we went back to my husband’s apartment, got high, and watched Almost Famous. There was a break when cannabis wasn’t that relevant in our relationship, and then once we started going to California—once dispensaries were around—there was excitement about, like, What are we coming back with this time? What are we going to try? What spray are we using and what candy are we having? I think it’s fun to experiment together.
We’re both kind of traditionalists. We both just like a little bit of a joint. That’s good for us. But I feel like the next frontier of cannabis is sex. Whether it’s sprays or balms or anything like that, I’m excited to see what comes out in the next five years. It’s definitely something I’d like to get into and develop. It’s very much consistent with our “for a good time” brand.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Brett Heyman photographed by Meredith Jenks at her home in New York. If you like this Conversation, please feel free to share it with friends or enemies.