I love the early Banana Republic. The one that billed itself as a “travel and safari clothing company” before the GAP transformed it into purveyors of yuppie-wear. And I equally love the new book “Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic” by Mel and Patricia Ziegler (the original founders of the company).
In fact, it could prove to be my favorite read of the year. It’s fun, witty, and chock full of sunny entrepreneurial optimism. During its engaging tales of adventure and the genesis of Banana Republic the book doles out numerous pearls of wisdom on starting a business:
“Having at the start of the company not know any beter, we regarded profits as the natural byproduct rather than the goal of our process”
Approaching product packaging and the media:
“As every journalist knows. you are only as interesting as your subject. As an entrepreneur, it was my job to be interesting.”
“Media loves media, and media is where media often goes to get story ideas. The more press we got, the more press we got.”
And data verses intuition in a design-based business:
“In matters of design, data give you the rear view – only intuition can tell you what’s up ahead”
“If you’re in business to copy and knock off, data is your designer.”
“Breaking form creates new context, Mel believes. When context is unfamiliar, the lack of orientation gives people a chance to see something new.”
This book is great and I can’t recommend it enough. I think the Zieglers constitute some of the very few celebrities I’d be interested in having dinner with.