India Hicks announced that her eponymous lifestyle line is shuttering. “Over the coming days, we will be thoughtfully winding down our business, taking along the gifts of life lived, lessons learned and true friendships made,” wrote Hicks in a farewell email on Wednesday.
Renée Peters, the senior director of India Hicks Inc., first announced the brand’s upcoming closure in an Instagram post on June 26, indicating that the brand would officially shutter on June 30. “We faced a few hurdles that were just too hard to overcome,” she wrote in a comment. “So many dimensions to creating an online retail brand.” As of July 5, the site was still live, with many items deeply discounted.
A former model, style icon, and daughter of renowned British decorator David Hicks, she has lived in the Bahamas for more than two decades and authored several books on island style. (The goddaughter of Prince Charles, she was also a bridesmaid in his wedding to Princess Diana; she is currently 678th in line to the British throne as daughter of Lady Pamela Hicks.) She launched her e-commerce company in 2015 with business partners Konstantin Glasmacher, an entrepreneur behind digital brands like flash sale site HauteLook and online shoe store Sole Society, and Nicholas Keuper, a former managing director at Boston Consulting Group. The brand’s selection of handbags, scarves, jewelry, bath products and home accessories featured motifs inspired by island life.
In addition to online retailing, the company employed a direct sales model like that of Avon and Tupperware, also known as multi-level marketing, that utilized a network of brand ambassadors to sell its products for a commission through parties they dubbed “Get Togethers.” Ambassadors reportedly earned a 25 percent commission on their own sales, as well as 6 to 10 percent of the sales of their recruits. Customers ordered product at parties where merchandise was on display; orders were then fulfilled by the company directly. “They’re not our employees,” Keuper told Business Insider of its ambassadors in 2016. “They’re entrepreneurs, and they choose what they sell out of a range. We provide them with a website, guidelines for running an office, and imagery—everything they need—and then they go run their own business, with a huge amount of support from our customer service team.”
India Hicks Style was not the first foray into product design for Hicks; she had previously developed a licensed lines of beauty and home products for Crabtree & Evelyn, jewelry for Bloomingdale’s, and bedding for the Home Shopping Network.
The farewell email from Hicks on Wednesday did not identify a timeline for the company’s closure. Instead, she gave thanks to the team of salespeople who had supported the business. “The difficulties faced as a young brand have proved to be too much for us to overcome, even with the creativity, loyalty and unwavering spirit of these beloved women, our Ambassadors,” she wrote. “My heart breaks with this news yet swells with pride over our many accomplishments.”
Homepage photo: Courtesy of India Hicks