True Story: Kenneth Cole was out of options
In 1982, a start-up entrepreneur named Kenneth Cole wanted to preview his line of shoes at the fashion industry’s famous Market Week in downtown New York. Larger established footwear companies have showrooms within a four-block radius of the event but Cole couldn’t afford a show room or hotel exhibit space.
Kenneth Cole says, “I was out of options, but not out of ideas.”
He needed something between the hotel and the showrooms on the street so he called a friend in the trucking business and asked if he could borrow a trailer to park on the street.
In his words, “My friend wished me luck getting permission in New York, so I called the mayor’s office and asked how one gets permission to park a 40-foot trailer in midtown Manhattan. They said emphatically, ‘One doesn’t.’ – citing that parking permits were only granted for utility and production companies shooting movies.”
That very day he changed the company name from Kenneth Cole Incorporated to Kenneth Cole Productions and applied for a permit to film a full-length film entitled, “A Birth of a Shoe Company.”
With “‘Kenneth Cole Productions” painted on the side of the truck, he opened for business. He stocked the trailer with displays, set up a velvet rope to form a line, and hired a cameraman to capture the buzz of the whole event.
“There wasn’t an important buyer in our industry who didn’t come see us,” he says.
In a 2011 Harvard Business Review interview, he says, “Within two and a half days, I had sold 40,000 pairs of shoes. And the company today is still Kenneth Cole Productions to remind us of the importance of resourcefulness and problem solving, and that the best solution is rarely the most expensive—and almost always the most creative.”
And so my challenge to you this week is:
What do you long to do to grow your business and how can you speed up your time to implementation?
Think like Kenneth and start brainstorming alternative ways to get it done.
Think “resourceful” not just “resources”!