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The Making Of An Entrepreneur

The Making Of An Entrepreneur

Steve Madden (Founder Steve Madden Inc.) gives expert video advice on: Did you always know you wanted to design shoes?; What does it take to make it in the shoe industry?; What sort of training does it take to become a shoe designer? and more...

Did you always know you wanted to design shoes?

Did I always know I wanted to design shoes? Yes, pretty much from an early age. I started at a young age, I was about 16 when I started in the shoe business. I was a stock boy in a shoe store. So, pretty much I was interested right away.

What does it take to make it in the shoe industry?

They say that luck is the residue of design. You surround yourself with talented people, and you put one foot in front of the other and that's how it all works out. There's no secret formula. A little hard work, a little talent, a little luck, and the talent thing is an unknown. I suppose there's a lot of that there. One doesn't know. I worked harder than most people, so I don't know what's talent and what's hard work. I suppose there is some talent, but luck, hard work and luck.

What sort of training does it take to become a shoe designer?

I think the best thing is to work in a shoe store for a shoe designer to see what the women want, and men. But mostly women.

What was your first job in the shoe business?

I was a stock boy in a shoe store, sweeping up a basement in 1974.

What was the turning point in your career, when you 'became' Steve Madden Shoes?

The biggest turning point, I worked for another company, and one day I decided to go into my own business, and that was a turning point for me. It was very scary! I was making a very good salary, I was working for a company, and I decided that I didn't like the people I worked for, I didn't respect them anymore. And so I decided to do it myself - so that was a big turning point.

Was there one single event, like the opening of your flagship store, that changed your 'brand' image?

Yes, the opening up of a store was a big deal. The opening of stores is a big deal.

What was the scariest part about starting your own shoe line?

The biggest risk for me is that no one will come, it's kind of like having a party; you're always afraid no one's going to show up. So that's a risk and there's a financial risk, of course, but that doesn't really matter (that much). I mean of course it matters, but I'm saying the real risk is that you will not be well received. That there will be an empty store, I always worry about that. There's nothing more dreadful than an empty store. Yeah well we pretty much caught fire right away so I grateful, not exactly on day one but

What kind of effort does it take to run a shoe empire?

It's challenging. To this day I have a lot of people I work with, with a big team of people, and there is no limit to what you can do creatively. For anybody, including me and my team, we just have many areas. It's untapped, there's so many things to do.