Kathy Ireland, the former super model (who graced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition for a total of four times) recently appeared on the CBS show ‘The Talk’ to share her tale of how she went from a model to a successful businesswoman with a design empire worth over a billion dollars. What made her tale so interesting is that (in spite of her beauty and reputation), she came across as a regular person – someone I’d like to chat with over a cup of coffee. So, how did this woman achieve this kind of success? How did she go from a 4-year old child going door-to-door (pulling a wagon loaded with rocks) to the CEO of a billion dollar business that she started by selling socks?
Kathy talked about always having an entrepreneurial spirit – starting as a young child when she and her sister sold painted rocks from a wagon. She also talked about how grateful she was for the opportunities that she had and the education that she received from her modeling experiences.
Before starting her Kathy Ireland Worldwide® company, Kathy had “tried and failed at so many businesses” including a beer business. After learning how profitable a beer business could be, she had decided to take on the “big brewers”. After spending two years investing her time and money, she realized that she didn’t have a passion for beer. She then realized that people sense if you don’t have a passion” – “Nobody wants it – if it’s not real.”
According to Kathy, her big break came as she was “an aging model – pregnant – at my kitchen table”, when someone offered her the opportunity to model socks. She looked at it as a job offer at a time when she wasn’t getting a lot of job offers. She went on to tell her audience how people laughed at her and told her that you can’t start a brand with a pair of socks.
Personally, I was aware of the Kathy Ireland brand but I had no idea of the strength and resilience that this woman possesses. I could go on with more quotes from her interview on ‘The Talk’ and tell you how much she inspired me. (I especially enjoyed listening to her advice to women who want to start businesses from their home. One of her recommendations was to access some of the low cost resources for entrepreneurs and business owners like the U.S. Small Business Administration.) Instead, I’d rather hear from you. Who inspires you? Which stories of self-made millionaires and billionaires resonate the most with you?