Ralph Lifshitz grew up in the Bronx, he had confidence, he felt in his heart that he was special, that is how he became Ralph Lauren.
I have always loved Ralph Lauren Style; the tailored, elegant stuff and the cowboy stuff too. I guess I see a little bit of that contrast in myself; the rough, raw and real and the beautiful, elegant and pulled together- or at least that is what I want to see in myself but I'm sure I'm just as much of a contradiction in terms.
In one of Oprah Winfrey's final shows she sat down with Ralph and Ricky Lauren and their three grown children, giving us a glimpse of who Ralph Lauren really is, it made me love him even more. Being easy to relate to is what makes him a true inspiration.
It took some serious (forgive me) balls for Ralph to really get his start. At 26 he was selling ties, at the time the trend was long and narrow. Ralph went out on a limb pitching a wide tie to his boss who's response was,"No—the world is not ready for Ralph Lauren."
Ralph eventually got his ties into Neiman Marcus but he had his sights on Bloomingdales, when they asked him to put their lable on the ties instead of his and make the ties a 1/4" narrower Ralph stood his ground, "I'm dying to sell to Bloomingdale's, but I'm closing my bag because I can't take my name off. And I can't make the tie a quarter of an inch narrower." Six months later guess who came crawling back. If that doesn't comand some respect I don't know what does. And as they say, the rest is history.
Ralph Lauren has had his share of struggles, at one point early on things were not going right, the clothes weren't fitting, bills weren't being paid and Ralph was almost out of money. He said his fear at the time was having to tell his Dad he failed; " That's what I was worried about—disappointing my father. He was so proud that I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. So I took my last penny and put it into the business, and somehow I made it through."
The most refreshing thing about this interview was that you could see how much Ralph loves his family and how much they love him. When his children were growing up he was always there when they came home from school and they always ate dinner together as a family. Ralph didn't give up his life to create his empire, he made his family a priority. Ralph said in the interview, "there is no one I'd rather be with than my kids."
Ralph has been married to his wife Ricky for 46 years. She is the other R in the RRL. I love that, I love that this icon is a real person who is uncompromising and has incredible integrity, values, love for his family, confidence and work ethic, that is who I want to be.
If you'd like to watch some of Oprah's interview where I found all of this info on RL click here.
If you'd like to read Oprah's 2002 interview with RL click here