Tony Drockton Brings Enthusiasm and Entrepreneurial Know-How to the South Bay’s Favorite Accessory
In the bag.
Tony Drockton is a ray of light you can feel across the room. He is the kind of person who will instantly cheer you up with his positive energy and magnetic smile that keeps glowing. It’s the same kind of smile you see on the faces of women wearing his handbags.
“Is that Hammitt?” Their faces light up as they bring their handbags closer to their hearts. For Tony, Hammitt’s cofounder, the bags are all about community.
Tony earned an MBA from Bowling Green in his home state of Ohio. He knew he wanted to live in the South Bay after celebrating his 18th birthday on the sands of Hermosa Beach. After several entrepreneurial endeavors, such as selling advertising and managing a construction company, he sought out a new investment and met Stephanie Hammitt, the South Bay artist and creator behind Hammitt handbags. That was 14 years ago.
“My gut told me to stick with that first little home party and realize that eventually the world could be that home party—very welcoming, doors unlocked. And that is the brand we still are today.”
“Stephanie was making these beautiful bags for about five years before we met, and she needed an investor,” he shares. “I came in first as an investor, and then in the first year she decided she really wanted me to take over and run the company.”
He didn’t know handbags, but his love for art, architecture and design drew him into this business. Tony was also inspired by the home parties that Stephanie threw for Hammitt and other South Bay brands—showcasing their work together and mingling with people over wine, cheese, art and music.
“Everybody says they have high-quality bags. But it’s about fostering that connection between people, and Stephanie taught me that well,” adds Tony.
The first couple of years were challenging. Tony sold his house and couch surfed for two years while investing in the business. “We really took off when we created our in-house design team around Jeanne Allen, our current designer,” he says. “She found her wings when Andrew Forbes, our CEO, joined.”
The unique and rich leather designs, signature rivet detail and effortless functionality make Hammitt the brand of choice for a woman who wants to go from coffee to cocktails—that one handbag she could carry anywhere. “We weave in a lot of cool little secret features that people don’t even know are there until you know the story of the design,” says Tony. “There is a secret little red line on every bag somewhere, and we started doing more functionality like a drop pocket for the cell phone on the outside.”
From working at his father’s grocery store at the age of 10 to running a leading California luxury handbag business, Tony is a success story that keeps getting better. “My gut told me to stick with that first little home party and realize that eventually the world could be that home party—very welcoming, doors unlocked,” he shares. “And that is the brand we still are today.”
Positive, inspiring and with his heart in each handbag, Tony shares that his job title is “chief cheerleader” of Hammitt—a term that goes a long way toward capturing his playful essence and impeccable vision.