Lessons in Rejection and Persistence

Kevin Shahroozi designs upscale casual menswear. He uses a variety of high quality materials such as lambskin, Japanese denim, wool, and neoprene. A New Yorker since birth raised by Persian and Taiwanese parents, he left the world of real estate to study design and start his own company. His brand caters to millennials.

Through my journey of starting and building my brand, I’ve lost count of how many times I’d been on the receiving end of rejection. I started sourcing fabrics and negotiating with factories on my own, all throughout the Garment District. It wasn’t easy negotiating on my own for a brand-new company that nobody had heard of, but when there’s a will there’s a way.

Door to Door

Before I found Maker’s Row to find a factory, to find the sample maker and small production factory that I currently work with, I had to knock on many doors – one of which was slammed in my face after negotiations over pricing reached a boiling point. After months of negative responses, after a friend told me about a fabric store downtown that had a small production factory in the basement. We went to visit, and luckily it had great prices and great quality – the sweet spot. The point is that you should keep networking, keep knocking on doors, and never give up.


Creating My Own Luck

I went out of my way to meet models and photographers who would put together photo shoots with me. I’d find them online (through Model Mayhem or other sites) or through word of mouth. Once, I was sitting outside of FIT waiting for my class to start. A girl with a camera approached me and asked to take a photo of me for her street style blog. She was a stylist, and offered me a one-off job assisting her at a photoshoot. I helped her at the photo shoot for free, and through that event ended up encountering the lead photographer, who soon became a close friend. Shortly after, he established his own fashion magazine and invited me run a fashion show at the publication’s first event. Little did I know that from helping out a stylist for free, I’d end up doing two fashion shows with him and this past month did another show for his magazine at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Volunteering for people you’d like to work with is a way of creating your own luck.

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110 Percent

The biggest hurdle, I’ve realized, is myself. Success in this industry requires a hunger to take more action then anyone else to publicize your brand. I’ve learned as an entrepreneur not to follow the money. Follow your passion, and everything else will work itself out. Intern, work for different designers and brands, go to a fashion school, and if you can’t go full-time, take night classes while you pay your bills with another job. Know that it does not come easy; it will take a lot of sacrifice. It is not even 24/7, it is 25/8.  Put your ego aside in order to achieve your goals. Be humble, do it with a smile, be happy while you work. Even if you have to say “would you like fries with that?” For us, this is just the beginning. We’re talking to investors now and a couple of our garments were just featured in the Macy’s Fashion Show that aired on the E! network on September 23, 2015. The Shahroozi label is just warming up.


Three Takeaways

  1. Practice humility: Put aside your ego and be ready to knock on doors as you try and get your brand off the ground.
  2. Say yes: You never know which opportunity could develop into an entry point for a fruitful career, so say yes to every opportunity and even volunteer for free if you have to.
  3. Go all in: If you’ve decided to take a leap into the design world, commit to it wholeheartedly. Do everything in your power to achieve success.

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