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For Kenneth Cole, philanthropy and business have always been intertwined, and the designer shared insight into his strategy during a special opening night address at the FN CEO Summit.
The chairman and chief creative officer of Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., who is also chairman of AmfAR, talked about the importance of goodwill and how it’s been crucial to the success of his company. “It has to be more than just how much money were making,” Cole said of his firm’s mantra.
The designer spoke as part of Two Ten Footwear Foundation’s Fromm Leadership Forum, made possible by the support of Ron and Cheryl Fromm. Here, he reflects on his 30 years in the industry, the importance of leading a cause-related business and creating punchy taglines.
On making philanthropy part of the corporate culture:
“If you look good, you feel good; but if you do good, you’ll feel even better.”
On taking his company private:
“I love being under the radar. I’m [concentrating] on refocusing the business model toward more cause-related issues. It’s part of why I got to where I am.”
On his biggest frustration:
“I want to have the greatest shoes in the world again, but it’s not happening overnight.”
On social media:
“It’s changed the world. Everyone is connected simultaneously, and it’s an overwhelming notion.”
On the fast-changing nature of the fashion industry:
“Just when you think you’ve figured it out, you’ve got to start all over again.”
On creating compelling advertisements:
“Manipulating language isn’t that much different from designing footwear. It’s all about being creative.”