‘Forbes’ Magazine has just released their list of the ’25 Highest Paid CEO’s', based
on stock options, bonuses, salary, and other perks. Those results were based on
calculations which were made through the 6th of September, 2011. Number two on their
list is none other than Ralph Lauren, whose annual salary is almost sixty-seven million
dollars. Not bad for an entrepreneur who dropped out of college.
The Beginning of an Empire
According to ‘Wikipedia’, Ralph Lauren was born as “Ralph Lifshitz” on the 14th of
October in 1939, in Bronx, New York to Jewish Immigrant parents Fraydl and Frank
Lifshitz. When he was just twelve years old, Ralph Lifshitz was still sharing a bedroom
with his two brothers. His mother raised the three boys while their father painted
houses. Ralph earned money from a job which he had after school, and saved it to buy
expensive suits when he was still in junior high. He took that fashion sense on into
adulthood, and created an empire.
By the time he was sixteen years old, Ralph’s brother, Terry, had his and Ralph’s last
name changed to “Lauren” to avoid the constant degrading that their name brought
in the English language. Although he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School,
Lauren went on to Baruch College to study business, but he dropped out before getting
his degree. His entrepreneurship had already begun, however slowly, and his fellow
students could remember him selling ties to them as young as high school. In his high
school year book, when asked what he wanted to be when he graduated, under his
picture Lauren wrote, “a millionaire.”
After dropping out of college, Lauren went on to serve in the Army of the United
States for two years. Although he never attended fashion school, Lauren went to
work at Brooks Brothers as a salesman. Taking his small necktie selling dream and the
financial support of a fifty thousand dollar loan from Norman Hilton, who was a clothing
manufacturer in Manhattan, Lauren started his own store where he sold wide ties
which he designed himself. His “Polo” brand was chosen by Ralph and his older brother
because it had always been such a powerful and stylish name. Ralph would later go on
to buy the “Polo” name from Hilton.
Entrepreneurial Persistence Triumphs
During the 1960′s, Bloomingdale’s refused to sell Lauren’s ties unless he took his name
off of the label and made them thinner. Instead of giving in to the demands in a panic,
Lauren stuck to his convictions, and refused. He stopped selling his ties to them. But
neither his brand, nor his ties died out. Instead the tie-selling business flourished, and
Bloomingdale’s was soon asking Lauren to come back, and sell to them again, according
By 1970, Lauren was already winning awards for his men’s line, when he was given the
COTY Award. Soon after, he released his new line of women’s power suits as well. It
was also in the seventies that the Polo logo was first seen, on the cuff of those women’s
suits. The well-known “Polo Shirt” was born in 1972, and was released in twenty four
colors. In 1983, Lauren’s business spread to home décor, such as pillows, bed and
bath products, as well as the jeans, children’s clothes, and accessories that his fashion
By 2007, there were over thirty five Ralph Lauren boutiques in the United States.
According to ‘biography.com’, Lauren has been given many awards, including the
Council of Fashion Designers of America award for Lifetime Achievement in 1992,
Women’s’ wear Designer of the Year in 1995, and Menswear Designer of the Year in
1996. A young son of Jewish immigrants had a dream, to become a millionaire, and
although he started small, selling neckties, he did not give up when Bloomingdale’s
refused to sell them. Lauren kept going, and built a billion dollar business which earns
him sixty seven million dollars a year.
Angela Kaye Mason is a researcher, writer, business woman, and contributor at entrepreneurweek.com blog network.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Angela on Twitter @AngelaKayeMason.
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