The Birth of a Shoe Company


I think you'll like this story...

It was 1982, and a young man named Kenneth Cole wanted to launch a shoe company.

But, like many entrepreneurs, he had no money. He thought about going to U.S. banks and factories for capital, but feared that this was a long shot for him.

So, instead, he found a small Italian shoe production facility that had been hit hard by the 80s economy and desperately needed more clients.  The company offered Kenneth a line of credit, and they immediately started manufacturing shoes.

But now, he had to figure out how to sell them.

So here's what he did (in his own words):


"At the time, a shoe company had two options.
You could get a room at the Hilton [during
the NY Shoe Expo] and become 1 of about 1100
shoe companies selling their goods. This didn't
provide the identity or image I felt necessary for
a new company, and it cost a lot more money than
I had to spend. The other way was to do what the
big companies do and get a fancy showroom in
Midtown Manhattan not far from the Hilton.
More identity, much more money too.

"I had an idea.

"I called a friend in the trucking business and
asked to borrow one of his trucks to park in
Midtown Manhattan. He said sure, but good luck
getting permission. I went to the Mayor's office,
Koch at the time, and asked how one gets permission
to park a 40 foot trailer truck in Midtown Manhattan.
He said one doesn't. The only people the city gives
parking permits to are production companies shooting
full length motion pictures and utility companies like
Con Ed or AT&T.

So that day I went to the stationery store and changed
our company letterhead from Kenneth Cole, Inc. to
Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and the next day I
applied for a permit to shoot a full length film entitled
'The Birth of a Shoe Company.'

"With Kenneth Cole Productions painted on the side
of the truck, we parked at 1370 6th Avenue, across
from the New York Hilton, the day of shoe show.
We opened for business with a fully furnished 40 ft trailer,
a director (Sometimes there was film in the camera,
sometimes there wasn't), models as actresses, and two
of New York's finest, compliments of Mayor Koch, as
our doormen. We sold 40 thousand pairs of shoes in
two and a half days (the entire available production)
and we were off and running.

"To this day the company is still named Kenneth Cole
Productions, Inc. and serves as a reminder to the importance
of resourcefulness and innovative problem solving."


So what's the point of this story?

Creativity enabled Kenneth Cole to gain financing and massive sales. Without these creative ideas, we wouldn't know the name Kenneth Cole today.

As an entrepreneur, you are most likely blessed with lots of creative energy.  Keep a notebook handy and write down all your ideas. Don't only think of ideas for great products and services, but for financing, marketing, sales, operations, etc.

There are no limits to what you can achieve when you come up with ideas and execute on them.

And remember...

Creativity is just as important with raising capital as with any other part of your business. 

If you master how to creatively raise capital, you'll have a tremendous advantage over your competition.

Click here for 28 creative sources of funding

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Ky says

Posted at 7:10 am

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