5 lessons from Jimmy Choo
“I design like an architect. It’s a beautiful, distinctive art, and shoes are like the foundations. If the foundations aren’t right, the building won’t stand upright, and if a woman’s balance isn’t right, nothing else is.” Dato’ Professor Jimmy Choo
Some background history to this, Jimmy Choo started designing and making shoes in the ’90s, catering for private orders in East London and was spotted by Princess Diana. Tamara Melon was a former British Vogue editor and the daughter of Vidal Sassoon’s owner. Soon, both Jimmy Choo and Tamara Melon formed Jimmy Choo PLC (the company).
Jimmy Choo (the designer) however, sold off all his shares in 2001 and Tamara Melon sold off all of her in 2011 and neither had any claims to the company they founded. Jimmy Choo PLC (the fashion company), was up for sales in April 2017 and was successfully acquired recently by Michael Kors for $1.2Billion.
Here are my thoughts on lessons from Jimmy Choo:
1. Branding matters
While Jimmy Choo (the designer) sold off all his shares in 2001, Jimmy Choo PLC ( the company) continually grew to be an empire due to its brand recognition, reputation and consistent ground presence. Branding was all it was left with, and the brand pulled through incredibly well.
2. Have strong founder(s), but build that team of long-term leaders who carry on
The dependency of a leader can be both beneficial and destructive ie Uber, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon etc. When co-founder Tamara Melon left the company in 2011 (10 years after Jimmy Choo left ) not only did the brand survive, but it kept on growing. However, the continual change of short term leadership was said to have caused fatigue among the employees
3. Have a good relationship between investors and founders.
Both of the co-founders, Jimmy Choo and Tamara Melon had difficulties building the company while upholding shareholders stakes which resulted in them letting go of their stakes.
4. Strategic growth, operations and fundraising are all important. Picking one over the other has a detrimental effect.
When co-founder Tamara Melon kept working on raising funds, she admits to being negligible to the growth of the company as it was overwhelming to do it all.
5. Always have good brand ambassadors.
Jimmy Choo went up the shoe designer rank when Princess D became a fan and having exclusive and top brand ambassadors made all the difference. For over a decade now, one is seen exclusively on the red carpet with a pair of Jimmy Choos.