How Meghan Markle’s Jeans Are Helping to Save a Welsh Town
“The phone almost hasn’t stopped ringing," Hiut cofounder David Hieatt tells PEOPLE. "It's been incredible!"
Even before she became an official member of the royal family, Meghan Markle was using her style powers for good.
“I think in any company’s life, you have defining moments — and that was definitely one of them,” Hiut cofounder David Hieatt tells PEOPLE. “The phone almost hasn’t stopped ringing since, it’s been incredible!”
Wearing the brand’s Dina jean in black (a high-waisted, skinny leg style that retails for $246) during an official tour of Cardiff with her fiancé Prince Harry on Jan. 18 has meant major changes for Hiut, the small denim label owned by husband-and-wife duo David and Clare Hieatt.
“In the next four weeks, we are moving into a factory that’s three times the size and we’ve hired eight new people — the Meghan Markle Effect is real!” says Hieatt from the shop floor of his current factory in Cardigan, Wales.
With a three-month waiting list for the Dina and two months for most other styles, the company is working fast to fulfill the huge amount of orders that have been placed since January.
“We must be one of the few jean companies in the world that have no jeans. We literally make them, ship them and our shelves are almost empty,” says Hieatt.“ For a small brand that spent all its marketing budget on a coffee machine, it’s quite a remarkable story!”
According to Hieatt, it was the British Fashion Council who suggested Hiut to Meghan’s team, no doubt knowing that the socially conscious royal-to-be would be impressed by their bold mission. The small town in the Welsh county of Ceredigion used to be home to Britain’s largest denim factory until 2002, when production moved offshore to Morocco — putting 400 locals out of work. Hiut’s mission is to find jobs for all 400 machinists, or Grand Masters as he calls them.
“Meghan is picking companies with a purpose or a mission — or dare I say it, a soul,” says Hieatt. “We have the skills here, and that’s what we are fighting for.”
On whether Meghan is aware of the impact she has had, the jeans expert said he had written to her team of advisors who had responded positively: “I think they were very pleased,” he says. “It would be nice to meet her one day, and when we get 400 people back in business, she can come and meet them — she’s a town changer!”
For more on Meghan’s new life, check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
In between making more than 100 pairs of jeans a week, the busy Hieatt family found time to sit back and enjoy the recent royal wedding, which was a hit with all the family, including their daughters. “The BBC mentioned Hiut and literally we were all bouncing up and down from sheer happiness!”