S02:E02: Importing Brilliant Business Advice with UGG Founder, Brian Smith

S02:E02: Importing Brilliant Business Advice with UGG Founder, Brian Smith

From selling merch out of his van on the sunny shores of Southern California, to creating a billion dollar international fashion brand, UGG Founder, Brian Smith, embarked on a long road to reimagine advertising and intuitively reach savvy consumers. This crazy Aussie came to the west coast in search of the next big business opportunity to take back home. Instead, he discovered a missing staple of surf culture down under that he knew would be a hit in the beach bum towns of Cali: sheepskin boots. He pivoted his business model to imported goods, a decision that would alter the footwear industry for decades to come. This fashion trend would sweep the nation – but it didn’t start out that way…


After sinking his teeth into a mouthwatering Lockhart Legend at Grub Burger Bar (complete with beer-battered onion rings and not one, but TWO kinds of fries), Brian relives those first few rejection-filled years when he sold a mere 28 pairs in his first year and made a pittance. Baffled by the lack of enthusiasm, Brian turned to friends for advice. Finally, a breakthrough! He realized a genuine voice was paramount to reaching his target audience. It turns out a lack of authenticity can kill a brand. Once UGG shifted its marketing approach, the business blossomed.


More lessons were soon to come like the importance of building (and maintaining) relationships. Rather than adopting the usual salesman-and-buyer dynamic, Brian formed friendships with stores eager to sell his inventory. These loyal relationships held the company together during a rough period. After years of success, Brian has three key lessons for entrepreneurs: 1) If you’re starting out, it’s almost a requirement to have a certain level of ignorance. If you knew what you were in for, you wouldn’t start. 2) Don’t give up during your company’s infancy; have patience. 3) Passion is an overused word; belief is not. If you believe that your idea is valuable and you can see the end result, hang in there.


Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/peP2ajr012w


Learn more about our guest:


On the menu:


Tasty quote to chew on:

“Authenticity is critical for every single person trying to build a business.”

Food for thought:

  • Your most disheartening disappointment will often become your greatest blessing.
  • You will learn more from a failure than a success. Don’t dwell. Learn what you can and move on.
  • Relationships are key. Loyal business partners can save a business when the going gets tough.
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