Below is an excerpt from my book, Gold Standard: How to Rock the World and Run an Empire.
Five Thousand Jeans and Nowhere to Go
We knew we needed to get the jeans known. Sales were in a tailspin. The stores we had given the pants to on consignment had customers returning the pants. The men’s jeans pockets were bigger, with a twisted seam, not a basic five pocket. People just didn’t get it. The smaller stores would tell us the customers didn’t like them and that they didn’t sell well. So a lot of those stores returned their inventory back to us. But we were steadfast in waiting for the “Yes.”
Our first set of reps was not as aggressive as we needed them to be. Normally, when a store writes an order from a rep in a showroom, the store’s buyer signs a purchase order, then the clothing company ships out the product. There has to be a real legitimate reason to return something. True Religion was so new and innovative that our sales team, who didn’t have knowledge of our particular category of clothing, didn’t understand how to sell our jeans.
It would have behooved our sales rep to say to the buyers, “These are new, give it another week.”
The sales reps don’t get paid if the stores return the jeans.
Every day during that period, I would take a breath, suit up, show up, and just focus on marching forward. And “No” was not an option. It had to become a “Yes.” It just had to. There were times when I thought, “Fucks this. I’ll go become a designer for someone else again.” But then I would just carry on to the next moment, hand out another pair of jeans, and let that thought pass. It had to work. I needed it—for me, for us, for the family. It was like I willed it to be.
There’s no doubt it was a challenge. There were big stores that said “No” for years. Neiman Marcus said “No.” There were the ones who wanted us to change the logo, get rid of the Buddha, and change the name. Everything about it was “No, no, no,” and we didn’t change any of it. Ultimately, Neiman Marcus carried the line. It was like Sylvester Stallone wanting to be in his own movie. I was in my own movie. This was my movie. This was my vision, and I was not willing to give it up.
For more information about my book Gold Standard: How to Rock the World and Run an Empire, visit the book’s page.