In 2014, Ralph Lauren was ranked as the 193rd richest person in the world by Forbes with an estimated wealth of over $7 billion. He is a world-renowned fashion designer in the US and a collector of rare automobiles, some of which have even been featured in exclusive exhibits.
But Ralph wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and it would do you well to find out about his humble beginnings.
Before Ralph Lauren, before all the prestige and the gleaming lights, there was a boy who was born in New York City as Ralph Lifshitz, on October 14th, 1939. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland, thus the uncommon surname.
Ralph was constantly teased at school because of his last name, so when he was 16 years old, he and his brother, Jerry, changed their last names to Lauren. He studied business at Manhattan's Baruch College, but decided to drop out after 2 years. After serving in the United States Army from 1962 to '64, he worked as a sales assistant for Brooks Brothers before he worked for a tie company as a salesman.
Ralph, at only 26 years old, was already interested in fashion and designed a necktie that was uniquely European. However, his company didn't think it would be commercially viable so they rejected the idea. This paved the way to him leaving the company and starting his own, taking up a tiny office in the Empire State Building, designing and creating neck ties on his own. He sold them at different shops under the 'Polo' brand, never giving up, no matter how many sleepless nights he'd get.
He finally got his big break when a client approached him and ordered a hundred dozen neck ties. It was Neiman Marcus, and that was a huge turning point for Ralph's career. In 1967, he opened his very own store through the financial backing of Norman Hilton, a clothing manufacturer in Manhattan. It didn't take him long to expand to a menswear line, and was recognized for his designs by receiving the COTY Award in 1970.
A year after that, he opened up another store in Beverly Hills, showcasing men's fashion wear along with a new line of women's suits, where the 1st Polo logo was seen. At the height of his career, Mr. Lauren revealed his very 1st collection for women and didn't take long for it to become a hit across the US.
He was also commissioned to design costumes for movies such as The Great Gatsby and Annie Hall, earning him more prestige than he already had. All in all, he has 35 boutiques across the country, and operates in 631 locations throughout the world.
Ralph Lauren was declared by no other than the President of France as a Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur (the Legion of Honour established by Napoleon Bonaparte) back in 2010. He was given the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in 2014.
Who would have believed that such a simple boy would grow up to become a billionaire? Ralph Lauren had dreams of making it big, and it was all he needed to keep pushing through. Now, he's mighty rich, and he's showing no signs of slowing down. Truly an admirable, hardworking man. Here are some things that we can learn from this great man: