menu

Shawn Parr: How To Go From Being An Up-And-Comer To Having ‘Made It’

Shawn Parr: How To Go From Being An Up-And-Comer To Having ‘Made It’
Advertising

Potter Jonathan Adler and designer Rebecca Minkoff share tips on how they followed their rising stars to full-fledged success.

Shawn Parr, Bulldog Drummond
  • 13 august 2012

When I heard about DailyCandy’s 3rd annual “Start Small, Go Big” competition, I thought I’d investigate to see what I could learn, as it focuses on discovering and helping up-and-coming small businesses grow by pairing them with mentors from some of the biggest names in fashion, home, beauty and food. DailyCandy has been a springboard for some of the newest and best designers, boutiques. and restaurants, and “Start Small, Go Big” helps to bring founders and CEOs together with tomorrow’s innovators. Six winners will meet with successful mentors at the DailyCandy Academy and get one-on-one guidance and insights vital to every small business owner. Past winners like Nella Pasta, Cold Spring Apothecary, Quinn Popcorn and Dolly Pearl (all led by women in their late 20s and early 30s) have gone on to sell their clothes in high-end boutiques, launch e-commerce businesses, and scale their operations to national distributions.

This year’s mentors include Jonathan Adler, a potter since his teenage years who got his start after showing his work to Barneys and now has 18 store locations nationwide, and Rebecca Minkoff, who started selling “I heart NYC” T-shirts off of her bicycle and has catapulted to success following the introduction of her “Morning After Bag,” and now sells full fashion lines. I connected with Rebecca and Jonathon to talk about their experience with mentors and mentoring over the years, and how those lessons will carry over to DailyCandy’s chosen winners. Here’s what they shared:

1. You can find mentors in the most unexpected places.

“My greatest mentor was actually my greatest… detractor! When I was in college I went to my pottery professor and asked her if I had what it takes to become a potter (one does wonder what it takes), and she said that I had no talent and I should move to New York to become a lawyer or something. I believed her, and slinked off with my tail between my legs and gave up pottery for a few years. Luckily, I proved to be a terrible employee and got fired from a series of jobs in New York and finally decided to give pottery another try, but this time on my own terms. I wouldn’t seek the approval of my professor, I’d just make what I wanted to make and follow my heart. And that’s what I did. So I suppose that horrid professor was my greatest mentor.”–Jonathan Adler

2. Even mentors can use a little mentoring.

“I don’t feel totally finished being mentored. I think it’s still important to ask, advise, and challenge myself; there is always room to grow and learn. With that said, I do really enjoy being able to mentor not only young designers, but also women. I really believe in empowering young girls to do what they love.” –-Rebecca Minkoff

“Ah, the mentee becomes the mentor! Let’s just say that I use a kinder and gentler approach than my mentor. I think anybody can do anything with enough work and commitment, and I constantly remind the young ‘uns of that.”-–Jonathan Adler

3. Above all else, stay true to you.

“Be willing to get ‘down and dirty,’ be determined, don’t ever doubt yourself and stay true to who you are and what you believe in.”-–Rebecca Minkoff

“Authenticity, authenticity, and authenticity! I attribute my success to the fact that I never meant to have a business, I never did a business plan and I was completely clueless. I was simply passionate about making pottery and that passion, which has expanded into all arenas of design, continues to fuel my business. I think that authentic passion is the most effective marketing tool.”-–Jonathan Adler

“Piggybacking on an existing product or service usually won’t get your business noticed in competitive markets. Yours should fill a need and stand out from the competition. I created a line for what I wanted to wear, and what I saw was a void in the market of design and function at an affordable price.”-–Rebecca Minkoff

4. Everything you need to know, you’ve probably already heard.

“There isn’t a turnkey way to start a big brand. I never meant to have a big brand; I just had to follow my heart. Probably not what I should be saying, but I find overly ambitious startups to be a bit of a bummer. For me, starting a business was something I had to do or I would go insane. Growing my business from a cottage industry to its current state has taken a long, long time and more work than I ever imagined. So I suppose that patience and hard work are the keys–I bet nobody has ever heard that before. When I first started, I rented studio space in a pottery co-op and my fellow potters, though lovely, proved to be a bit of a cautionary tale about how not to grow a business. They made great stuff, but they kept making the same stuff over and over and over again, and I saw that their businesses were completely stagnant. So I resolved to be nimble, analytical, and strive for constant re-invention.”-–Jonathan Adler

5. Get down to business and use the tools at your disposal.

“Use social media to break down barriers that traditionally separate designers from consumers, host web-centric events, and partner with web communities like Polyvore and The Purse Forum. For example, to mark our five-year anniversary, we hosted a contest/giveaway called Jack A MAC. The online/offline event, orchestrated through Twitter and Foursquare, attracted 500 to 1,000 participants.”-–Rebecca Minkoff

After connecting with DailyCandy dditor-in-chief Ashley Parrish about how they select the winners of “Start Small, Go Big,” competition I appreciate the uncommon sense and directional simplicity of the questions entrants have to answer (which are below). Whether you plan to start small and go big, you’re a passionate startup, or a multimillion dollar household brand, the following five questions are applicable and a good reality check:

  1. The world needs my business because?
  2. My big idea moment was?
  3. My greatest challenge so far has been?
  4. The most creative business solution I’ve used so far is… and the outcome was?
  5. As a small business owner, I’ve had to think outside the box, and a specific example is?

 

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision. Follow the conversation at @BULLDOGDRUMMOND.

Advertising
Trending

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Culture
Asia Today

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Today

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Work

See All
Health Today

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Today

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Design & Architecture Today

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Today

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Today

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

PSFK Labs Today

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Today

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Today

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed

Retail Today

Snapchat Reveals A Striking Pair Of Video-Recording Sunglasses

Spectacles make memories from your perspective and transfer them to the app

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Financial Services Today

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

Design Today

Concept Artists And Scientists Form Partnership To Visualize The Future

The collaboration hopes to liberate ideas and innovations trapped in notebooks

Automotive Today

Uber Could Be Bringing Vertical Takeoff Transport To Your City

The ridesharing app is looking into the development of nimble aircraft for urban environments

No search results found.