Why is it that success makes others so jealous?
Working late, a google alert brought my attention to a Businessweek story on Forever 21's historic opening on Fifth Avenue. The story was snarky and writer's apparent disgust of the chain's success a surprising contrast to the quality articles published by Businessweek.
The most shocking quote of all came from Susan Scafidi, the director of the newly launched Fordham Fashion Law Institute:
"Their design is swathed in mystery. . .But it probably looks a bit like a crime scene, with the chalk outline of the garments they're copying."
Ouch! From a law professor no less, one who knows the difference between copying and counterfeiting.
Instead of being mean girls, let's take a look at the facts:
The Changs came to this country in 1981. They opened their first store in downtown LA in 1984 and had first year sales of $700,000. Forever 21 founds its niche -- affordable fashion that brings joy and self-esteem to people at all socio-economic levels.
Not only does Forever 21 have an eye for style, they understand the business of fashion: you only make money by controlling your margins, dilution and inventory.
Today, Businessweek reports that Forever 21 has 35,000 employees in 477 stores with sales of almost $3 billion. That takes determination, long hours, and drive.
Yes, you can find Forever 21 items that are inspired by other designers, but there is nothing illegal about that and I dare you to show me one designer that hasn't bee inspired by the works of another.
This story should have been written as an inspirational tale of a hard working, immigrant family with a vision. A reminder to us all that the American Dream is possible, especially when you find your niche.
So, all you fashion entrepreneurs out there, ignore Businessweek's sour grapes and join me in congratulating Forever 21 on their success.
2011 is a new year and a time for new possibilities. Where is your niche? Will you be the next American Success Story?
With faith, and hard work, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.