By Stephanie Pancher
On Oct. 22, a room full of faculty and students gathered to hear some history and helpful advice from Brian Smith’s experience in starting UGG.
Smith spent 45 minutes talking about his failures and successes as a business owner. He originally lived in Australia and became an accountant in his mid 20’s, but soon realized that this was not his true passion. Someone told Smith to find something he could do better than everyone else. This is when he decided to take a different career path.
When first deciding to start his own business, Smith knew nothing about running a company. Most of the knowledge he gathered was a product of life lessons and risks taken.
At the beginning of his journey with UGG, Smith decided to get up and move to California where all of the latest trends were being developed. He spent three months trying to find a unique product that he could sell. One day while browsing through a magazine, he realized that there were no sheepskin boots in America. All of the surf shops in California were a perfect place for these boots to be sold.
For four weeks, Smith visited all of the shops in Santa Monica, but was denied left and right. Not one wanted to buy and sell a product that wasn’t guaranteed to be successful. It would be a huge risk for a company to buy these boots because they were unsure if the demand would exist.
The first season of UGG sales was only $1,000, a very discouraging number for Smith. After taking a moment to step back and look at what he could improve, he realized that he was sending the wrong message to his target market. The next few weeks he spent time working on a different set of ads that connected with the younger audience.
As Smith said, “The ads made the customer want to be in that moment.”
Sales grew to $14,000 after the new ads ran. They began to rise each month after that.
“Sometimes your most disappointing disappointments become your greatest blessings,” said Smith.
Despite the challenges and bumps in the road, he remained loyal to the company. He continued to follow his passion and refused to give up until this dream became a reality. This billion dollar company started as a simple idea, which reminded students that nothing happens overnight. With a little persistence and passion, any idea can become a success.