“A guy with an MBA from Stanford named Roy Raymond would like to buy some lingerie for his wife, but he’s too embarrassed to go and buy it in a supermarket. This gave him the idea of creating a luxury boutique where one wouldn’t feel like a pervert. He gets a loan of $ 40,000 from his bank, borrows another $ 40,000 from his in-laws, opens a store, which he calls Victoria’s Secret. The first year he made $ 500,000. He launched a catalog, opened 3 more stores, and after 5 years sold the company to Leslie Wexner and The Limited for $ 4 million. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? except that 2 years later, the company is worth $ 500 million and Ray commits suicide by throwing himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. All he wanted, that poor guy, was buy his wife some garter belts. “
The story above is one that Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake), the founder of Napster, tells Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in the movie “The Social Network”. He wants to illustrate the fact that the true genius is not limited to having a great idea, but that it also takes determination and perseverance to see how far that idea can lead. The anecdote of Roy Raymond, the catalog of Victoria’s Secret and his unhappy end offer the best example possible for this demonstration.
In the 1950s and 1960s, underwear had to be practical and durable. For most women, the only occasions to wear sultry lingerie were limited to the honeymoon, or the evenings of wedding anniversaries. In the mid-1970s, armed with 80,000 euros from savings and loans from his family, Roy Raymond, in his thirties, rented a store in a commercial area in Palo Alto, California. Her goal was to offer sensual lingerie in a setting where men would not feel out of place.
Sales were booming, and five years later Raymond had opened three more stores in San Francisco. In 1982, the company’s annual turnover was over $ 4 million. However, something was wrong and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Leslie Wexner, a quad owner of The Limited, a thriving $ 50 million successful sportswear store, was just on the hunt for new brands. During a visit to one of his stores in San Francisco, he came across the Victoria’s Secret store. “The store was small, and it was Victorian, not Victorian in English style, but Victorian in brothel style, with red velvet sofas. But there was some really sexy lingerie, and I had never seen anything like it in America before, ”Wexner recounted in a Newsweek interview in 2010. Immediately he understood what the problem was with this. business-model: the underwear was designed to appeal to men, and although they were very elegant,
However, realizing what the potential of the company was, Wexner bought it back in 1982 for a million dollars (not four million dollars, as shown in the movie “The Social Network, as published in the excerpt above). He went to Europe, where women were more willing to buy sensual lingerie, to study this market segment and he came back with new ideas to offer American women glamor and luxury with sexy underwear at a price. affordable.
His plan worked: the men continued to spy on the catalog, and the women began to shop. By 1995, Victoria’s Secret had grown into a $ 1.9 billion company with 670 stores spread across America. Today, the company, which has a net profit of nearly $ 5 billion, has become the world’s most popular clothing brand, according to the YouGov BrandIndex.
Unfortunately this success corresponded to the collapse of Roy Raymond’s life. After the resale of Victoria’s Secret, he started a new luxury children’s clothing business, My Child’s Destiny, but it went bankrupt after two years. After the divorce from his wife Raymond committed suicide by throwing himself from the Golden Gate in 1993.
The moral of the story is that it is possible to have a great idea and seize that opportunity, then ultimately fail. To be successful, it is necessary to combine vision and skills.
Image source: Sitecpic