I often wonder how I will be remembered. It’s one of those things that‘s more important to me than anything else. I’ve often stated that my goal in business is not to be the richest man on Earth, but to have the most people at my funeral. It’s also my goal that 30, 40, or 50 years from now, kids aspiring to own their own businesses see me and say, “That’s the guy. That’s the fucking guy!” Of course, you need money to make any business successful. So, how do you find that balance?
Last night, I was celebrating Christmas with my family. My 11 year old nephew, while joking but with a glimmer of reality boldly claimed, “You made your money taking pictures of prostitutes, you pervert!” To which my mother was quick to quip “You know, that’s how your nephews see you.” Followed by the agreeing nod of my former step-dad who knows little of life beyond pouring concrete.
Nothing like the support of your family to really build you up.
To get you up to speed, in August 2012 I launched ‘Five.Oh.Seven. Clothing’. We provided lifestyle clothing to a very defined target demographic of 18-24 year olds. We were based out of an extremely conservative city, but our audience was spread out among many places. Because of our counterculture brand, our brand message and brand identity paralleled that of any “lifestyle” brand (skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, music, etc.). Female models. Unapologetic verbiage. Aggressive marketing. You get the point. At the end of the day, we never embraced any drug culture, we never used any models topless (or bottomless) and any images we released were just a fragment of what Calvin Klein, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie, and anyone else is doing every single day on a national TV spots.
But, back to the topic at hand. My vision for “Five.Oh.Seven. Clothing” was always to dream big and work incredibly hard to achieve those dreams. A noble cause. Do the very people I was trying to inspire not understand? Is my own nephew not inspired by what I created? Did I screw up? I mean, don’t get me wrong. The business was very profitable. I didn’t have to work for a year…. and even at that point it landed me a job doing what I love so I actually pushed myself back into being employed. But again, that wasn’t the point. The point was to show everyone what was possible. Despite what your parents say, and despite what your guidance counselor tells you, you can blaze your own trail, and you can win.
I’m 27 years old. When I was 25 I quit my job to pursue something I was passionate about. I made a lot money. I worked extremely hard every single day. I did something original. I had the most fun of my life, and I shared that fun with anyone who wanted a piece. I was friendly, nice, open, and honest with every soul I met. With $28 and 7 nights, I built a project so big, and so noteworthy, that it set me up for the rest of my life by propelling me on the career path that I am on today.
That’s a big win in my book.
But is that what people will remember? Or is everyone’s opinion so skewed by the dogma of society, so jaded by “how things should be done”, that they can’t separate me as an individual, and “Five.Oh.Seven. Clothing” as a profitable business model?
I know I am going to do a lot of great things in this world. “Five.Oh.Seven. Clothing” was just the start. It was my resume. It was a business I built solely out of vengeance when I was told, “you don’t know what you’re doing.” It was built as a giant “Fuck you.” to anyone that doubted what I was capable of. And again, I won.
(note to anyone out there. If you ever want to “take me down”, don’t tell me I can’t do something. I will, and I will crush you with it. Politely.)
But there will always be this nagging feeling of, “Was it enough?” Will it ever be viewed without bias? Will I ever be looked at as someone who did something positive for the community and kids?
As long as there is one kid out there. Just one fucking kid that saw “Five.Oh.Seven. Clothing” when I was hustling my face off every single day, and that kid tells his parents, “You know what. I might put off college a little bit. I might not take that job you want me to take. I just might pursue something that makes me feel alive inside.”
Then, I can be happy.
If you’re that kid, e-mail me at Dallas@DallasMcLaughlin.com, I’d love to talk to you.