I’m very inspired by the history of brands and how they lead to success.  I will be delving into some brands and trying to understand what it is that makes these brands so unique and so well known.

 

My first behind the brand is Louis Vuitton, French entrepreneur and designer whose name has become iconic in the fashion world.  Recently I visited the Louis Vuitton exhibition in New York, which I highly recommend it.

 

How it began

 

Designer and entrepreneur Louis Vuitton was born on August 4, 1821, in Anchay, a small hamlet in eastern France's mountainous. Descended from a long-established working-class family, Vuitton's ancestors were joiners, carpenters, farmers and milliners. His father, Xavier Vuitton, was a farmer, and his mother, Coronne Gaillard, was a milliner ( who passed away when Louis was very young).

At 13 Louis ran away from home due to problems with his step mother and made his way towards Paris, stopping off  at various cities and finding jobs. The teenage Vuitton was taken in as an apprentice in the workshop of a successful box-maker and packer named Monsieur Marechal. It took Vuitton only a few years to stake out a reputation amongst Paris's fashionable class as one of the city's premier practitioners of his new craft all due to hard work and perseverance.

Hard work paid off

In 1851, Napoleon III's wife, the Empress of France, was Eugenie de Montijo, a Spanish countess. Upon marrying the Emperor, hired Vuitton as her personal box-maker and packer and charged him with "packing the most beautiful clothes in an exquisite way." She provided a gateway for Vuitton to a class of elite and royal clientele who would seek his services for the duration of his life.

Due to his success with his elite clientele in 1854, a few months after his marriage, Vuitton opened his own box-making and packing workshop in Paris. The sign outside the shop read: "Securely packs the most fragile objects. Specializing in packing fashions."

Entrepreneurship

In 1858, four years after opening his own shop, Vuitton debuted an entirely new trunk. Instead of leather, it was made of a gray canvas that was lighter, more durable and more impervious to water and odors. However, the key selling point was that unlike all previous trunks, which were dome-shaped, Vuitton's trunks were rectangular—making them stackable and far more convenient for shipping via new means of transport like the railroad and steamship. Most commentators consider Vuitton's trunk the birth of modern luggage.

The trunks proved an immediate commercial success, and advances in transportation and the expansion of travel placed an increasing demand for Vuitton's trunks. Business was booming, and Vuitton received personal orders not only from French royalty but also from Isma'il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt.

Disaster struck - Positive attitude and perseverance

In 1870, however, Vuitton's business was interrupted by the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and the subsequent siege of Paris, which gave way to a bloody civil war that destroyed the French Empire. When the siege finally ended on January 28, 1871, Vuitton returned to Asnieres to find the village in ruins, his staff dispersed, his equipment stolen and his shop destroyed.

Showing the same stubborn, can-do spirit, at the age of 13, Vuitton immediately devoted himself to the restoration of his business. Within months he had built a new shop and a new focus on luxury products, located in the heart of the new Paris.  The simple, yet luxurious, new design appealed to Paris's new elite and marked the beginning of the Louis Vuitton label's modern incarnation as a luxury brand.

The success of Louis Vuitton, I think was due to his perseverance, his positive attitude and entrepreneurial flare.

By Jag Lehal