Hello! Today I would like to share with you an excerpt from my new book, GOLD STANDARD: How to Rock the World and Run an Empire. I’m so excited for its release in September 2015 with Skyhorse Publishing that I couldn’t wait to share a piece of it! Enjoy:
I had an idea that I would like to sell T-shirts on the boardwalk. Clothes weren’t being sold yet, so I thought I would find out who the landowner was, call him, and ask if I could rent some space.
Clothing designers sell their overages and damages, which are just slightly imperfect clothes. My idea was to buy damaged T-shirts and garment dye them my own colors and then sew material shapes on them to cover any holes.
I asked [my stepfather] George and Mom if I could borrow three hundred dollars and promised to pay them back. No doubt they assumed that day would be in the very distant future, if ever.
I went downtown to the mart where the showrooms were, having never been downtown before and certainly never alone. Up until that time, I rarely went anywhere by myself.
Terrified, I started knocking on doors. But, before they could shut the door on me, I would manage to blurt out, “Hi! Can I buy your overages or irregulars?”
Some people were nice, some shut the door on me, some were snobby, and some were downright mean. Back then people didn’t even think to sell overages and damages, so they didn’t understand my idea. Initially it was frowned upon, as their thinking was, if they’re selling to Neiman’s and Saks, they didn’t want the T-shirt found on the boardwalk for half the price. But it didn’t deter me; there was a thrill to the chase.
When I finally got someone to say “Yes” to me, I was totally intimidated by the next step, which was to rummage through their warehouse to find the T-shirts I deemed quality enough to buy. As nervous as I was, my pride kept pushing me forward. I believed in my idea.
I remember calling Mark [Burnett, my boyfriend at the time] from a payphone, saying, “I’m across the street from a dye house. I’m going to dye a bunch of T-shirts.”
He told me I was wasting my money. But I had a hunch. The T-shirts that had holes or tears, I would use a crisscross or bar tack stitching, or cut out stars, squares, and hearts from interesting fabrics to sew patches over the holes.
Mark was not the only one who said I shouldn’t sell the T-shirts—everyone thought it was a waste of my time, which just made me that much more driven. I love a challenge.
I bought the damaged T-shirts for five dollars each, put up some racks and umbrellas on the Venice boardwalk, and sold the repurposed T-shirts for twenty to thirty dollars each. By my first weekend I’d sold everything. To my stepdad’s surprise, I paid the three-hundred-dollar loan back the very next week.