Posts Tagged ‘success’

Dreaming the Dream

February 1, 2013

Fabric bolts with various types of fabric

Yesterday was a day of contrasts.

Earlier in the day, I participated in a live chat on Huffpost Live with Christian Siriano, the fashion designer who was catapulted to fame after winning Project Runway. Siriano, age 25, has come a long way from those early days, launching an eponymous label and retail store, designing custom wedding dresses and collaborating with other brands such as Payless Shoes. His most recent venture is a lower priced line for HSN, which debuts next week. Known for his big personality and the taglines “fierce,” and “hot tranny mess,” Siriano came across as amicable, yet surprisingly serious.

His conversations leaned towards the business minded, and he appeared wise beyond his years. While Siriano wants to shed his reality show stereotype and be taken seriously as a designer, his career path has been defined by his television persona.

Ruminating on the story of Christian’s success, I wandered back to my office.

When I arrived, I got a panicked phone call; “Tommy is coming!”
The fashion equivalent of an air raid drill is the frantic call to arms when the namesake designer of a brand comes by for an unexpected visit.

I dashed upstairs to make sure that our presentation was up to snuff.

Mr. Hilfiger arrived shortly thereafter, with a group of young aspiring designers in tow, to talk to them about his company and how he got started.

I was lucky enough to be able to sit in, and hear him share his story with the group.

The career trajectory of today, as seen with Christian Siriano is unique: Go on a reality show, have the public fall in love with you and hopefully your designs, and parlay that into a business.

Mr. Hilfiger, more than twice Mr. Siriano’s age, started in a more humble way: with a small amount of money and a big dream.

As a young man, he invested $150 in the inventory of a New York City street vendor selling jeans. He took them back to his hometown of Elmira, New York, and opened a store he called “People’s Place.” He blasted loud music, lit incense and sold out his entire stock. Later, he decided to make the product more personal, and worked with a local seamstress to distort the classic jean and create an item that was unique to his store. As time evolved, he added other denim items to the mix, keeping his niche and expanding it slowly until it became the international phenomenon that it is today. He speaks of stepping outside his comfort zone, as he explored brand marketing and the expansion of his business.

The audience (myself included) was mesmerized, as he offered advice to young designers just starting out.

Tommy generously shared his knowledge, and a few self-deprecating tales of the less stellar moments in his career. His success came from finding a niche, having a strong vision for the brand, and being consumer-centric. He took on partners to help him with the areas of his business he did not excel at, and surrounded himself with young, like-minded talent.

The contrasts and similarities in the two men were stunning.

Both men have a passion for their work. Both began at a young age, and pursued their dreams. One started on a shoestring and built an empire. The other became an instant household name through reality show notoriety. One has their stellar career behind them, and is using his time and resources in a philanthropic way. The other has their whole future ahead of him, and is exploring ways to grow and develop as a designer.

Both proved to be inspirational in their own right.

The lesson was clear:

Vision and drive are essential on the road to success. How you choose to travel is what makes each journey unique.

Who inspired you today? Share your story in the comment section below.

A Memorial Day Story: The True Meaning of Success

May 28, 2012

My nephew is currently serving in the military, at a remote base in Afghanistan.
When he wrote that they did not have access to fresh foods, such as fruit, vegetables or dairy, and only received 2 dried meals per day, I set out to find things that I could send him to keep him healthy during his deployment.
At first I sent the obvious; boxed chocolate milk, protein powder, “power bars”, and pouches of pureed apples with bananas or carrots. Then one day while trolling the aisles of Whole Foods, I stumbled upon Orgain, the perfect meal replacement that is shelf stable, nutritious, and could survive being airlifted by helicopter if necessary.

The product itself is incredible. It is a doctor developed nutritional shake that is organic and free of artificial sweeteners. It also contains 24 vitamins and minerals, is high in protein and has the antioxidant equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in each eco-friendly tetra pack. It is shelf stable for one year, without the use of preservatives. I know, this sounds like an advertisement, but I haven’t gotten to the good part yet…

I wrote to the company and told them about the less than ideal circumstances that my nephew was experiencing, and how thrilled I was to find their product. They immediately replied that although were just a small start-up company, they would like to help. They graciously offered to ship their product to him and his entire team with their thanks for the sacrifices they were making for their country. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity and kindness. It is not just a company with a great product, but also one with a big heart.

As we speak, 72 boxes of Orgain are making their way to an army base somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan, enroute to providing sustenance to a handful of men and women who are risking their lives on our behalf.

On Orgain’s website, there is an anonymous quote that epitomizes their business philosophy:
“To do more for the world than the world does for you, that is success.”

I guess they have a lot in common with those who will soon be receiving their gift.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to give thanks for our fallen heroes, and for those who are currently serving. They, like Orgain are doing more for the world than the world is doing for them, and they are doing it with pride and dedication. I’d say they’re pretty successful, wouldn’t you?

Happy Memorial Day!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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