Tag Archives: Small Business

Lifestyle companies…are we the 99%?

Lifestyle companies are, as partially defined by Wikipedia, businesses that are established and run by their founders with the primary aim of sustaining the founder and, secondarily, those who work for the founder.  Wikipedia says that the lifestyle owner wants to sustain a specific level of income that will give the owner a basis on which to live a particular lifestyle.  I think the definition is broader than that though.  A New York Times article offers other definitions: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/is-the-term-lifestyle-business-an-insult/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.  And here’s another question: at what point is a lifestyle company called a privately held company (one that does not have shareholders, or does an IPO)?   Mary Sullivan, a blogger, offers still another point of view on the subject:  http://www.allbusiness.com/business-planning-structures/starting-a-business/3878259-1.html
I also believe that lifestyle companies make up a large percentage of the tax base…after all, lifestyle companies don’t have lobbyists or have the kind of money it takes to wield enough power to get tax breaks for themselves.
As I’ve written about Natori, lifestyle, or privately held, companies have the advantage of being able to dictate exactly what the owners want to do with it.  This includes sustaining a high level of quality, ethics, etc. For fashion designers and others, this is important – it’s directly related to the owner’s vision.  I’ve seen lifestyle owners customize their products for clients – still another advantage.  Lifestyle companies also offer the owner the potential for a lot of individual freedom and flexibility in their lives.  Most companies who I come in contact with at the entrepreneur and other courses  I’m involved with (Fast Trac at Levin Institute, Licensing and Design Entrepreneurs NYC Mini-MBA program at FIT) and mentoring (Lang School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University and Philadelphia Fashion Incubator), are lifestyle companies.
So while lifestyle companies are portrayed as “unglamourous” in the press and in certain communities, like Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and the Route 128 corridor, they can often be a wise business decision and a road to success for the entrepreneur.  Here are some other opinions along the same lines.
What’s your opinion?
#lifestylecompany #startups #entrepreneurs #lifestylebusiness

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

natori-sticky

Natori: A Continuation of an Appealing Apparel Story

Continuing from the last entry on Ken Natori’s visit to my licensing class (CEO 035), here are more traits that distinguish Natori.

One is customer service.  I emphasize this in all my entrepreneur classes and to my clients. Customer service is the most cost-effective, and probably least expensive way to differentiate your company from your competition.  It is so important, and like marketing, often an afterthought to everything else a busy entrepreneur or business is focused on.  But here’s the big secret: Customers remember customer-service!  Often customer service tips the scales in favor of the company providing it. Whether it’s a sole proprietor or a Fortune 500 company.

Natori has multiple licensees but when a customer calls customer service, they do not know which product has been licensed – nor should they.  This is due to keeping a unified brand within the fashion house. Customer service at Natori is trained to answer all questions about all products, irrelevant of the source (licensed or in-house).  This makes for a seamless experience for the customer – how it should be.

Another distinguishing characteristic at Natori, is that Josie, the founder, came out of a Wall Street background, as does Ken.  The result is that they understand first and foremost that fashion is a business.  And they treat the company as a business.  Ken emphasized this point when he spoke to my licensing class, in order to separate Natori from  typical fashion houses which are often known for high drama.  The culture at Natori, while still high fashion, is much more sedate and drama-free. Sounds like a nice place to work.

Which leads me to my closing point:  Natori is currently looking for a junior person to work in their licensing department.  Know anyone?  Are you that person?  If so, Ken wants to hear from you:  ken.natori@natori.com

Ken Natori


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

In Praise of Creative Entrepreneurs

Written by:
David L. Colby, Esq., Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC

When creative people start a business, interesting things happen. Cool things, Inspired things, game changing things. But sadly, also tragic, bad things. The users of this world prey on creative people far too often.

As an attorney who helps creative entrepreneurs, I will be the first one to say that creative people and business frequently are at odds. It is sometimes complicated for creative entrepreneurs to maintain control of their own companies. Indeed there are special challenges and disconnects that are almost directly proportionate to the level of originality and creativity in the entrepreneur.

I remind my clients of what Andy Warhol said: “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” With that clever mindset, a creative entrepreneur can maintain their creative integrity and still have a head for business. Moreover, you can learn to harness creativity to structure deals, work out complex business relationships, and offer up creative solutions during negotiations.

No doubt creativity really what its all about. After all, what is a business without creativity? Its not difficult to find examples: uninspired copy-cats, knock-off agents, struggling plagiarists, copy-cats, soulless hacks pushing their way into the market with profit as its primary motive; design a secondary concern at best. A noteworthy hallmark of these types is that in the long run, they are limited in their potential. They lack authenticity… an original core… a deep well to keep going back to for inspiration.

The opposite of this is a business founded and controlled by the original creative person or team. The designer, the artist, being at the center is actually the engine, the heart of the beast, to what truly matters in the long run.

But as important as creativity and originality is, we cannot escape the fact that business is business. To level the playing field, it is imperative to have a plan and a relationship with the right kind of lawyer. If you are looking to start or grow a fashion-based business—whether as a designer or in some other related way– it is of the highest importance to organize your business and protect your interests to succeed.

In short, creative entrepreneurs require special care. And they deserve to get it. It isn’t just looking out for their interests, a lot of time it is just actually listening to them, encouraging them, and reminding them that their creativity is the secret ingredient and the most valuable asset they have.

David Colby
David L. Colby, Esq. is the Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC, a law firm in NYC that represents many up and coming designers and their businesses worldwide. Colby Law Office works particularly with business formation and governance, intellectual property and contracts.

Colby Law Office is doing the second of their free legal clinics at FIT on May 19th from 5:30-7:30pm. Only RSVP’s may attend https://legalsalon-may.eventbrite.com. If no more space is available, David can be reached at dcolby@colbylaw.com to set up a free consultation.