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Resources versus resourcefulness and the launch of the Kenneth Cole fashion brand

The story of how he launched his brand and sold 40,000 pairs of shoes over a weekend.

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meh.ro5021A nice idea I recently picked up from a guru I follow called Dan Kennedy is the concept of resources versus resourcefulness. It is echoed by some of Peter Diamandis’s laws.
 
Among the most common complaints / self-limiting beliefs you will find around and inside you are the following:
 
“I don’t have the money ..
“I don’t have the time ..
“I don’t have the people ..
“I don’t have the skills .. 
.. to do that”
 
Their commonality is that they are all “resource” issues.
 
To contrast this with “resourcefulness” Dan Kennedy tells the story of the launch of Kenneth Cole’s fashion brand, in Mr Coles words (with interjections from him):
 
The footwear industry has market weeks. These are days when the industry comes together; buyers from stores converge in New York at the Hilton.
 
Larger footwear companies have permanent showrooms within a four block radius of the Hilton. I couldn’t afford a showroom nor hotel exhibit space.
 
Dan Kennedy interjects with a comment at this point in the story, “now most people would stop right there, saying “I don’t have the money so I can’t exhibit this year. So we’ll wait until next year when maybe we’ll have the money”. Or “we’ll just go to the show and talk to people and pass out business cards”. That would be a showstopper for most people.”
 
Continuing in Kenneth Coles voice:
 
I was out of options but not out of ideas. So I needed something between the hotel and the showrooms on the street.  I called a friend in the trucking business and asked if I could borrow one of his trailers to park it on 56th Street and 6th Avenue, two blocks from the Hilton in front of a fancy shoe company’s show room.  The truck company owner said “sure, but good luck getting permission to park a 40 foot trailer in midtown Manhattan.  So I called the mayors office and ask how one gets permission.
 
They said emphatically “One doesn’t”.  They explained the city only gave parking permits to utility companies or production companies shooting movies.
 
Do you agree that most people would stop there?  Do you see where this is going?
 
So that day I went down to the stationary store and changed our company letterhead from Kenneth Cole, Inc. to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc.  The next day I applied for a permit to shoot a full-length motion picture titled “The Birth of a Shoe Company”.
 
With Kenneth Cole Productions painted on the side of the truck we opened for business surrounded by the big company showrooms.  We have a fully furnished 40 foot trailer, a director, camera (sometimes with film in it), models, actresses.  Two of New York’s finest courtesy of the mayor’s office.  A velvet rope allowed a limited number of people, buyers in the trailer at a time, and there wasn’t an important buyer in our industry that didn’t see us.
 
Here is another version of the story as printed in Harvard Business Review 
 
In the early 1980s, there were two ways of addressing shoe buyers. One could take a room at the Hilton Hotel with about 1,100 other companies, where the buyers would walk all the rooms. Or one could take a big fancy showroom near the hotel. I didn’t really have the resources to afford either. So, on a whim, I called a friend who was in the trucking business and asked to borrow one of his 40-foot trailers. Then I called the mayor’s office and said, “Excuse me, how does one get permission to park a trailer on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 56th Street?” And they said, “Sorry, son, they don’t. This is New York. You get permission only under two circumstances: If you’re a utility company servicing our streets, or if you’re a production company shooting a full-length motion picture.” So I hung up the phone and changed the name of my company to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., and the following morning I filed for a permit to shoot a motion picture called The Birth of a Shoe Company. I opened for business on December 2nd. I had a cameraman, stanchions, and klieg lights. 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.
 

The conclusion is simple: be resourceful!

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