There’s a story about successful designer Kenneth Cole in Fortune. Some of you may enjoy this anecdote about how Cole creatively interpreted city rules and regulations to help himself out:
I designed shoes, made prototypes, and committed to ordering 40,000 pairs of shoes. There wasn’t a mechanism to get trademarks researched and registered quickly, so I used my name as the company name.
Back then, shoes were previewed at Market Week. You either took a room at the New York Hilton, where the trade show was, or you had a big fancy showroom. I didn’t have the money for either. So I called a friend and said, “If I can figure out a way to park your 40-foot trailer across the street from the Hilton, will you lend it to me?”
He said yes, so I contacted the mayor’s office and was told we couldn’t park the trailer unless we were a utility company servicing the streets or a production company shooting a film, thus promoting New York City. So I went to a stationery store, and $14 later I had a new letterhead that changed our name to Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. I used the letterhead to apply for a permit to shoot The Birth of a Shoe Company, and on Dec. 2, 1982, we opened a 40-foot mobile showroom just north of the Hilton.
We had shoes, klieg lights, stanchions, and a cameraman. Sometimes there was film in the camera and sometimes not. The buyers came, and I used a telephone booth outside the trailer to periodically adjust the orders by color and size.
I sold 40,000 pairs of shoes in 3½ days and was off and running. We had $5 million in sales that first year and made a profit of $1 million. Today the company is still named Kenneth Cole Productions to remind us of the importance of storytelling and resourcefulness.