My company is Bangs Shoes, a humanitarian brand focused on long-term sustainable change through partnerships with strategic non-profit organizations. Developing Bangs from concept into a legitimate functioning entity has not been an easy ride. To put it clearly – I conceptualized Bangs June 2010 and the first shipment of Bangs shoes will be arriving to the USA this fall, over two years after Bangs came into being.
So what happened? Manufacturing shoes should be easy enough, right?
Wrong. I’m 24 years old with a degree in Political Science, which means navigating the waters of an international start-up has been mostly trial and error. I had no business background, but I’ll tell you what I do have: unwavering optimism and a sense of courage necessary for perseverance.
After the initial conception of Bangs I went through a year and a half of, what felt like, straight disappointments. Factory after factory turned out to be a flop. I had shoe deposit money “disappear” when a middleman decided I had laid out too large a task for him. I found myself wondering: Should I put idealism behind me? Is instability a gamble I can take much longer?
February of this year found me bartending at a restaurant in the tourist district of downtown Charleston, South Carolina. I hadn’t given up on my vision with Bangs, but I had to find other ways to support myself until I could find a reliable manufacturer. While I was behind the bar, I met a lovely couple on vacation from North Carolina who asked me to tell them something interesting about myself.
On most days, I would have said Bangs was one of the more interesting things about me, but on this specific day I was having doubts. I had been developing and talking about Bangs for almost a year and half at this point and was yet to make notable progress. While serving nachos, I decided for whatever reason I would let this couple know about Bangs – the progress I had made and my vision for the future.
The couple pressed for details on Bangs, our non-profit partners, and the mechanics of the company. I had been thinking and developing the Bangs brand for a year and half (albeit without shoes!) so fortunately I felt comfortable answering the questions they shot at me. Then came the doozy: the man asked if he could see my business plan and inquired as to whether I was looking for investors.
Someone once said, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. My story could not be a better example of this.
Turns out that my customer at the restaurant had many years of experience in retail and after endless conversations and lawyers, Bangs had acquired an angel investor and business partner who has since played a crucial role in bringing Bangs to life.
Reflecting back, I learned an important lesson that day in the restaurant. If I had given up on Bangs Shoes after the first factory fell through, I would have never been able to pursue Bangs full time with a strong team by my side now. I realized perseverance is not an innate characteristic. Perseverance is a mindset, a lifestyle that drives you through your doubt and pushes you to acknowledge obstacles with a smile.
So if you’re looking, here’s my advice: Don’t give up. Find a way to make it work, and if that doesn’t work, find another way. Optimism, motivation, a good heart, and work ethic are all important, but if you do nothing with those characteristics, if you refuse to actively persevere through inevitable obstacles – all your strengths are for not.
Hannah Davis is the Founder and President of Bangs Shoes and currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. She enjoys running, yoga, cooking, and learning.