Paradigm Shifters is a series of interviews with a select group of women from eclectic walks of life. It will highlight real life insight on how women have been able to turn weakness into strength. Each interview is the naked truth about breakdowns that inspired breakthroughs. These women have experienced internal changes, which make them quintessential Paradigm Shifters.
Everything I have ever done has been focused on this underlying theme of shifting the paradigm because "what we think determines what we feel and what we feel determines what we do." Hence why Seven Bar Foundation and Empowered by You takes lingerie, which has traditionally been seen merely as a tool of seduction, and makes it a tool of empowerment.
I hope after reading these stories you will look at your own situations, struggles and accomplishments through a different lens and, at the very least, be better equipped to change your own paradigm. At the end of the day, we are our own Alchemists turning the silver we were born with into the gold we are destined to become.
I was really excited to sit down with David and Marcus for this interview. To better set up our conversation, here's some background about the duo behind Rag & Bone: shortly after Marcus established Rag & Bone, he invited David to join him in NY to run the business with him. Marcus focuses on design while David's area of expertise is the commerce side of the business. They both work on brand building.
There's a balance between the two of you. I'm curious to see how this balance works with your idea of art and commerce and staying authentic to it.
David: First of all, we share an office, which helps. In some ways, even just geographically, that helps us with the balance of the art and the commerce. It's quite well ingrained in us because the company was created with no money, no expertise. It was always a must for us. We wanted to be successful and we obviously wanted to be proud of what we do from a creative perspective. We want to be proud of what the brand is, what we look like, what we stand for, and the quality of the garments. So these are ongoing discussions we have all the time.
Marcus: There're a lot of things that go into building a brand. There's this constant tension between more expensive and less expensive. That balance of art and commerce is something that plays throughout not just the literal commerce of what we do but the decisions we make and our success has largely been born from finding and maintaining that. Rag & Bone started more as an idea to make clothes for ourselves. It wasn't a direct attempt to balance art and commerce. It started as wearability, functionality, quality, craftsmanship and authenticity being the no. 1 priority for what we were doing. That's the difference between Rag & Bone and a lot of other brands, having come from no fashion training and not having come to start the company with fashion as the first and foremost goal.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
Marcus: He retired early and spent the rest of his life on a beach. That's slightly tongue-in-cheek. I want to be very proud of what we've built here. It would be nice to have some impact on popular culture beyond the fashion world. To have an impact on the average person on the street, having changed their lifestyle with the clothes and product we've made and to have created a brand that stood for something beyond clothing, stood for a point of view on life.
David: Having been English guys coming to New York with not a lot and to build something is really sort of exciting. To create a brand in New York City, that's kind of a hell of a ride. There have been milestones along the way. I think we're already enormously proud of what we've been able to achieve. It's amazing. I'm excited for what the next decade will bring.
What's a breakdown you've experienced that turned out to be a breakthrough?
Marcus: The general financial meltdown was a breakdown everyone had to deal with. We've been relatively lucky being so small in a small enough zone in the business for it to have affected us slightly less than if we were a massive mega-brand. It was very good for us. It forced us to think about our organization a little bit, but it also forced our consumers to think about the value of what they were buying. Was it was worth spending three grand on something that was just three grand because it has a label on it or spend half that and get exactly the same thing from a smaller brand that had that full luxury pricing. That was great for us. It forced the world in a way to really address excessive purchasing. Any of those harder times, you come out better for those.
David: Exactly. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Advice you would give your younger self?
David: I would say that nothing comes easy and it probably shouldn't come too easy. If it comes too easy, you don't appreciate it as much. We've always had a strong sense and belief that we were going to get there.
Marcus: My advice to myself would have been to pay more attention to what's happening online. To have understood earlier how it would change the way people exist. Also, persistence is the key to success in some ways. It's not necessarily good advice to my younger self because we've always persisted through to this day, and it wouldn't change the course of what we've done. Part of our success has been the blindness to what we were doing; it was a trial and error process, which is much more important than avoiding the error. It's more important to fuck up and understand why you fucked up, most of the time. I mean, it would be nice to sort of smooth out some of those bumps but I don't think we'd be the company we are if we'd started with a lot of fashion training and a lot of money and a real understanding of what we were trying to do. You've got to experience the hard times at some point to get to where you want.
While this blog usually highlights female Paradigm Shifters, David and Marcus are perfect exceptions to this rule. By maintaining balance and authenticity, they continue to contribute a unique perspective to their field. I'm excited to see what the future holds for them!
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