Have you seen the chic, boldly colored neoprene bags sweeping the country? It seems they’re popping up in boutiques across the South and beyond. And they are. In more than 1,000 retailers, in fact. The maker of this sought-after staple, Parker & Hyde, isn’t just about bags. With arms in furniture, flooring, and fashion, this brand’s story is as big, bold and Texas-flavored as its designs.
To know Parker & Hyde is to know Zack and Lauren McLarnon, the quintessentially Texan couple behind the designs. Zack is from Dallas; Lauren, Abilene, and after graduating from TCU and SMU, respectively, the pair connected over their deep Texas roots and shared love for slow weekends on the ranch, a comfortable pair of boots, and a perfect margarita. After they married and had a sweet little girl named Molly, that “settling down” time in many young families’ lives looked a little different for these newlyweds.
Zack — never known for his ability to sit still — decided to invest in a leather company out of Brazil. Without telling Lauren. He had a vision of selling cowhide rugs to decor-savvy Dallasites. He thought he’d start this new “hobby” and sling a few rugs without Lauren ever finding out. But as the demand for the cowhides grew, Zack’s secret was impossible to contain. Lauren enthusiastically joined “Team Cowhide,” brainstorming ideas to innovate the classic cowhide rug and grow their budding flooring business.
As Zack worked with local designers and clients to customize flooring for their spaces, he realized another passion and talent: customizing furniture. As he began to refinish and design furniture, even incorporating the hides from time to time, word of his pieces spread and demand grew. Around this time, now expecting their second child, Lauren began to meet with handbag manufacturers. She saw the demand for this updated, unique take on the iconic cowhide rug translated into a fabulous bag. So from the color to the texture to the tassel, that is exactly what the duo designed. When Lauren and Zack were about to welcome their son, Parker, it turns out they were also going to welcome something else: the business of selling purses. The popular cowhide clutch has since been joined by many hide accessories and the boldly hued neoprene totes on everyone’s shoulders. Much like the cowhides, this “hobby” became too big to stay that way. Between the flooring, furniture, and fashion, Zack and Lauren could no longer call this a hobby. So in honor of their newest family member and their hobby-turned-business, Parker & Hyde was (also) born.
While running a design business and wrangling two little ones might not be the “settling down” they envisioned, these Texas kids at heart somehow find a way to do it all with grace, creativity, and warmth that shines through in their pieces. They’re less likely to be spending weekends on the ranch, but they’re just as happy figuring out the right legs for their newest chair, or thumbing swatches of brightly hued cowhide. With now three little ones and a three-pronged business spilling way over the edges of Texas, we talked to Zack to see just how he does it and what’s next for Parker & Hyde.
Your hobby-turned-business must mean you love going to work. Does it feel like work when it’s a passion?
You’re exactly right. My dad always told me that you’ll never have to work another day in your life if you find something you love doing and that you’re passionate about. I actually spent the early part of my career doing something I was not passionate about, and I would find myself spending my free time trying to figure out what my passion was. I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. I actually took a year off trying to find it and finally realized I was searching for it the wrong way — by thinking about it. Passion can’t be found in your head because it lives in your heart. And the flames of passion are fanned by engagement, not thought. No matter how hard you try, you cannot figure out your passion by thinking about it. You need to take action and feel your way to your truth, from the inside out.
Moving from hides into everything else you do now must’ve been a transition. Did you see growing pains at the beginning?
Looking back, I’d have to say that overall it’s been fairly seamless with the transition with minimal growing pains; however, we have had some turns and detours along the way. We started the company with the idea that we would strictly be an online retailer that sold direct to consumers; however, when boutiques and big-box stores expressed an interest in carrying our line, things quickly changed. So today, we are now primarily a manufacturer and wholesaler that sells direct to retailers across the country and are represented in over 1,000 retailers across the country. Don’t get me wrong — we love having an online presence and will always continue to offer our products for anyone and everyone to purchase!
You have gone from flooring to furniture to fashion. How do you combine these three facets?
They all seem to work well together, probably because we incorporate the same material with nearly everything we do: leather. However, since inception, we have started to incorporate different materials into our fashion line, such as neoprene. We are pretty excited about this material, actually. It’s durable, washable, and virtually indestructible. Our neoprene tote bags are actually our hottest products right now. I enjoy it all, but designing our Hyde Patchwork rugs and custom furniture is what gets me up in the morning. I do love designing women’s handbags as well, but let’s just say I’m not texting or fist-bumping my buddies when I come up with a new pattern or colorway for a tote bag. That’s all Lauren.
Tell us a bit about how the Texan way of life is infused into your brand.
“Everything is bigger and better in Texas,” right? Haha. I guess you can say at Parker & Hyde we strive [to be] “better and bolder.” Making each bag or each piece of furniture better than the one before and being bold by taking risks. Think of jumping off a cliff and growing wings on the way down.
When you’re not working, where can we find you?
Well, I’d love to say I’d be sippin’ ranch waters on a mountain in Aspen or maybe on the golf course with my buddies, but that would be false. These days I’m just trying to focus on being the best husband I can be to my God-fearing wife Lauren and the “cool dad” to our three kids, Molly, Parker, and Preston.
Your family is precious. Do your kiddos like being part of the Parker & Hyde process?
Thank you! They are pretty darn cute. They definitely inherited my wife’s genes. Our kiddos are our life and the reason why we do what we do. In a perfect world, I’d love to see Molly take over our fashion line and Parker and Preston run our custom furniture and rug lines, but right now, they are just focused on Barbies, Legos, and terrorizing each other … and that’s just fine by me. They grow up fast!
What does Parker & Hyde have on the horizon in 2021?
Big things are on the horizon for 2021. I feel like 2020 was just such a whip for small businesses across the country, but I also feel like it’s given them a chance to kind of pivot and reinvent themselves. Whether it be establishing an online presence, adding new and different products, etc. We are going to remain focused on our Hyde Rugs and custom Hyde Furniture, but we will have a big push on our fashion line with neoprene at the forefront and being better and bolder in everything we do.
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