6/21/2021 Tip: Kenneth Cole’s Creative Funding Story

Today’s Quote

“I think editors are excellent marketers.  They know their audience and produce copy to appeal to them – they just don’t call it marketing.”
~ David Robinson


Today’s Tip

Hopefully you’ve heard of Kenneth Cole shoes. Well, even better than his shoes are how he used his creativity to raise funding many years ago. Here’s the story 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 the shoe show. We opened for business with a fully furnished 40 foot 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.

Moral of the story: be creative in your fundraising and sales efforts!


Today’s Resource

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Today’s Question: Where did Papa John’s Pizza first open for business?

Previous Question: What is not true of the founder of Pan American Airlines, Juan Trippe?  

* He proposed the idea for the 747

* He graduated from Harvard

* He created affordable air travel

* He originally worked for Wall Street and found it boring

Answer: Juan Trippe did not graduate from Harvard University.

Wealthy and successful people don’t always go to prestigious schools. They are often everyday people who happened to either climb the corporate ladder or came up with a great idea and built a business around it, as Juan did.


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