Spot Light Saturday -- Luis Vuitton.

Entrepreneur's, side-preneurs, and wantrepreneur's don't take weekends off, so why should we? 

On Saturday's we will be spotlighting an interesting Entrepreneur, it may be someone well known to the world, or it may be someone in my local context that is just starting out.  Enjoy be inspired and get started --

There probably isn't a person in the world that doesn't know what a Luis Vuitton bag is.  People buy these bags mostly as a fashion statement over practical use, though I bet some would fight me tooth and nail over that statement.  

But how did it all begin? Was Luis born into a wealthy family with plenty of working capital for him to live his dream without risking anything? Did he easily rise to the top of his game over night? Not really. 

Luis was born into a working class family on August 4, 1821.  Most of Vuitton's ancestors were joiners, carpenters, farmers and milliners. His father was a farmer and his mother was a milliner.  Nothing was handed to Luis, his family worked hard for what they had and he was expected to do the same.  At 13 years old Vuitton left home alone and on foot, bound for Paris [remember this is before cell phones]. He traveled for more than two years, taking odd jobs to feed himself along the way and staying wherever he could find shelter, as he walked the 292-mile trek from his native Anchay to Paris. He arrived in 1837, at the age of 16.  

Vuitton then took an apprenticeship [made little to no money] with a well known "box maker" [box-making and packing was a highly respectable and urban craft. A box-maker and packer custom-made all boxes to fit the goods they stored and personally loaded and unloaded the boxes.] After only a few short years Luis became well known for his new found craft amongst Paris' elite.  In 1851, Luis was hired by Napoleon III's wife to "packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way."  This was a huge break for Luis, a break that would have never happened if 16 years earlier he never set out for Paris.  If he never would have started, he never would have gotten the opportunity.  Call it luck, call it providence, but if you never knock on any doors none will open. 

1854 - the year of change for Luis.  After perfecting his craft and earning a reputation amongst the locals in Paris he decided to open his own shop, The sign outside the shop read: "Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specializing in packing fashions."  Four years after opening his own shop, he created a whole new bag, Vuitton debuted an entirely new trunk. Instead of leather, it was made of a gray canvas that was lighter, more durable and more impervious to water and odors. However, the key selling point was that unlike all previous trunks, which were dome-shaped, Vuitton's trunks were rectangular—making them stackable and far more convenient for shipping via new means of transport like the railroad and steamship. Most commentators consider Vuitton's trunk the birth of modern luggage. This was a huge success for Luis and it propelled his business to new heights.  As small business we constantly need to be reinventing ourselves.  Unlike the big corporations we are able to pivot and change directions in our business much faster, thus beating out the competition, as long as we are constantly innovating.  Get outside your confront zone, create something new and different then all the rest.  

In 1870, however, Vuitton's business was interrupted by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, and because of this war and the siege on Paris his store was destroyed. "Showing the same stubborn, can-do spirit, he displayed by walking almost 300 miles alone at the age of 13, Vuitton immediately devoted himself to the restoration of his business. Within months he had built a new shop at a new address, 1 Rue Scribe.  For the next 20 years, Vuitton continued to operate out of 1 Rue Scribe, innovating high-quality, luxury luggage, until he died on February 27, 1892, at the age of 70. But the Louis Vuitton line would not die with its eponymous founder. Under his son Georges, who created the company's famous LV monogram and future generations of Vuittons, the Louis Vuitton brand would grow into the world-renowned luxury leather and lifestyle brand it remains today."

 

Most of the info in this article came from here.