Gentlemen, here’s a question: What was it like the first time you entered a lingerie store all by yourself to buy something for your partner? If all the looks you got from everyone around made you feel as if you are going to be put on a sex offenders list, you aren’t alone. In fact, you are accompanied by Roy Raymond, the founder of Victoria’s Secret, the biggest lingerie brand in the world. Wonder why?
This is How Big Are They and today, we are going to unhook the bands of the life of Roy Raymond, the man who knew Victoria’s Secret!
After his first experience of buying lingerie for his wife, a young Roy Raymond realized one thing: Most men, including himself, would rather be in Iraq fighting ISIS than be in a women’s lingerie store. And in the days where no mobile phones and no internet existed, being in a place where you didn’t really want to be wasn’t really an easy thing either.
This uncomfortable realization is perhaps the most influential realization ever for the entire species of underwears. What makes me claim this? Well, it was this experience that led Roy Raymond to have an idea that would change the face of the entire lingerie industry and in the process, help men save their face.
What if there was a lingerie store where men weren’t seen as perverts who couldn’t afford adult magazines? What if there was a lingerie store where men could shop for their partners without the added privilege of feeling uncomfortable?
And just like that, in 1977, Victoria’s Secret was born.
Victoria, however, is not a real or fictional character. Instead, Raymond used the word “Victoria” to symbolize the Victorian Era, which further symbolized the exclusivity and respect that was associated with this era. The secret? What’s hidden underneath. Oh yeah! *wink wink*
Victoria’s Secret, in its initial phase, grew like nothing else. This was due to the innovative idea of creating a lingerie store that revolved around men. The store design and even the catalogs, as a result, caught the imagination of Californian men.
By the 5th year of its operation, Victoria’s Secret had expanded to three more stores and made more than $4 million dollars in yearly revenue.
But, despite the best efforts of Raymond, it didn’t last long. In fact, the company was facing bankruptcy.
In creating an entire brand that sold women lingerie revolve around men, he failed to understand that ultimately, the majority of people who were going to buy these products were actually women. Thus, he ended up creating stores where women felt as uncomfortable as he used to in the stores he felt unwelcomed in.
Eventually, the company caught the interest of Leslie Wexner, another American businessman, who quickly realized the potential of the concept and the poor implementation of the same. A year later, in 1982, Wexner bought Victoria’s Secret for $1 million. He tweaked the marketing strategy of the company and made sure that it was the women who were buying the products while men continued glaring at the magazines.
His implementation of Raymond’s vision was working and continues to work till this day. The company that was almost bankrupt is now worth more than $7 billion.
Sadly, the growth of his own brainchild didn’t go down too well with Roy Raymond. After selling Victoria’s Secret, he went on to create another company, which again failed due to poor targeting combined with a poor location of business. This was followed by another failed business which led to his divorce in 1993. Failure, depression, and loneliness had become constants in his life and unfortunately, in August of the same year, he jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
23 years since he died, his legacy still lives on. Despite all his failed businesses, his vision to get rid of the shame associated with buying “what men shouldn’t be buying” is something all men and in fact, women should be thankful for. On the flipside, this is an amazing story to understand how easy it is to grab and then quickly lose the opportunity of a lifetime.
It’s time that you too get rid of the shame and share this story with your friends over Facebook and Twitter. Do you have any vision like Roy Raymond? Let me know in the comments below.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed the story of the late great Roy Raymond, the man who knew Victoria’s Secret… Or did he?
Want to read more? How about you read about another entrepreneur, Estee Lauder, a lady who created a billion dollar corporation from the back of her kitchen!