Recently, Nancy, Jay and I got to hear Kathy Ireland speak to a group. She is a remarkable businesswoman who is passionate about her brand. She launched her business in 1993 and today it is a $1.5 billion dollar company selling over 45,000 products.
She told the story of starting the brand with a pair of socks selling them out of the trunk of her car. Now she has sold over 100,000,000 pairs of socks.
Her success stems from the intimate knowledge of her customer and what the customer wants. She said to keep those doors of communication open with those you serve. The customer will honestly tell you how you can do better and serve her. Listening to our customers is critical.
A few other points she talked about were as follows:
- We are our own brand. What kind of brand to we portray to the world? If we have to make a change in that brand, do it now.
- A well branded product (or person) will outperform a non-branded, lesser priced product.
- Men buy products but women are loyal to brands.
- Corporate America no longer controls brands. Do to social media like Facebook, Twitter and blogs, people want to be reached in their own terms and not corporate terms.
- Independent retailers can offer what big boxes can’t – customer service.
She was an inspirational speaker who siad her priorities were faith, family, and service to work. She indicated whenever she got the priorities mixed up, she was really in trouble.
Probably my major takeaway from her was her persistence in the face adversity. Anybody can see her now as a celebrated wife, mother and CEO of a $1.5 billion dollar brand. Some may remember her as a swim suit model. But throughout she faced lots of people who told her “no” and she still struggled on to build an empire. The difference between her and millions of others who want the fame and fortune is that she never quits.