Sunday, June 24 , 2018, 4:27 pm | Overcast 68º


Susan Ann Darley: Creative Marketing a Perfect Fit for Fashion Giant Kenneth Cole

One of the most brilliant marketing ideas ever executed was by fashion giant Kenneth Cole when he was just a startup.

He wanted to open a shoe company but had limited funds. He knew to move quickly as new companies can quickly run out of cash, some even before they have the chance to conduct business.

Because it was easier to get credit from factories in Europe that needed the business instead of American banks that didn’t, he lined up factories, went to Europe and returned with a collection of 40,000 pairs of shoes.

Next dilemma: How do you sell them? He could get a room at the New York Hilton and be one of 1,100 other companies selling shoes or get a fancy showroom close by, which would cost a fortune.

This innovative entrepreneur decided there was a better way. He asked a friend if he could borrow his 40-foot trailer truck. His friend said yes but good luck getting permission to park it as the city only gives parking permits to production companies shooting full-length motion pictures or utility companies.

He went directly to the stationery store and changed his company letterhead to read Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. and the next day applied for a permit to shoot a full-length film titled The Birth of a Shoe Company. He then painted Kenneth Cole Productions on the side of the truck and parked it across form the Hilton the day of the shoe show and opened for business.

Two doormen, compliments of Mayor Ed Koch, welcomed guests into the 40-foot truck furnished with director, camera and models as actresses. Did I mention shoes? In 2½ days, they sold 40,000 pairs.

In an interview with Newswire.FM, Cole says his “company serves as a reminder that the best solution is usually not the most expensive but almost always the most creative.”

This once-hungry young entrepreneur filled with a passionate dream, the courage to take a risk and the imagination to think creatively built a company that has been included in Forbes’200 Best Small Companies four times with a reported net worth in 2012 of $100 million.

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. is a socially conscious company that publicly supports AIDS education and research, is a fur-free clothing manufacturer and generously donates to organizations devoted to ending poverty and homelessness each year.

One person, one company helping to make the world a better place. What is your dream, and what are you willing to risk?

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and writer of marketing material for businesses, entrepreneurs and artists. Click here for more information, or contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.845.3036. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >