Susan Feldman, Co-founder, One Kings Lane
When native New Yorker Susan Feldman moved to California, she became obsessed with decorating her home. With an extensive background in the apparel industry, Susan watched the flash sale model take over. She combined her love for decor and the success of this new distribution channel. Soon after, One Kings Lane was born.
Susan is best known as co-founder and chief merchandising officer at One Kings Lane. Her passion for travel and immersing herself in other cultures, reflect the exciting and unique products that she finds. One Kings Lane has become the destination for home décor. With over 9 million members, 50% up from the previous year, CEO Doug Mack is expecting to reach $300 million in sales for 2013.
What inspires you?
Traveling has always inspired me. I love exploring new places and learning about their art, history and culture. Meeting and spending time with people from different places and cultures is always very inspiring. I have been so fortunate since starting One Kings Lane to travel to many, many places that I had never been before like Morocco, India, Turkey and China. I continue to be amazed every time I go on a trip how invigorated I am by immersing myself in other cultures.
Who has had the most impact in your life?
It would have to be my father. He was so passionate about life. He taught me that you must always be curious and never stop learning. He was a retailer — so that’s in my blood. He reinvented himself three times. After retiring at 65 years young from Macy’s where he was a senior executive, he went on to become a very successful commercial real estate broker. But that wasn’t enough so at age 78 he went back to school to get his Masters in Fine Art degree, which he earned at 80! It is amazing to watch your 80 year old dad walk down the aisle in cap and gown to get his diploma! He spent the last eight years of his life painting up a storm. I learned so much from him. He was so excited about One Kings Lane. When we launched he used to scan the site every morning at 8am when we went live and call me if anything was wrong. He only got to see the first three months of One Kings Lane but I am so glad that he did. It made him very proud. And that made me very proud.
What is the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
It took some time for me to realize that not everything had to be perfect and that actually getting things done well was better than taking more time and striving for perfection. Once I figured this out I discovered I was able to become much more productive in all aspects of my life.
What cause(s) or nonprofit(s) do you support?
My family supports two organizations, one local, the other global. A Place Called Home, based in South Central Los Angeles, is a safe haven for children from that area. Its goal is to get as many of these children to college. It is an amazing place that empowers these underserved children to take charge of their lives. Seeds of Peace brings together exceptional youth and young adults from regions of conflict such as the Middle East and inspires and equips them with the relationships, understanding and skills needed to help create and sustain a lasting peace.
What is your favorite city and why?
It is impossible to name just one! What I love are cities that provide me a new and different experience each time I visit. I see new neighborhoods, I eat in new restaurants, I explore new destinations. Lately I have been loving Jaipur (India), Paris, the Grand Canyon, Istanbul and even my own home city of Los Angeles.
What creative person, e.g. writer, architect, fashion designer, do you most admire and why?
Ralph Lauren. He has built an incredible brand and did it with a very clear and focused vision. He has used that vision to guide the brand from the beginning and he never compromises the brand. He has done what is right for Ralph Lauren. The result is a very successful business that has had staying power.
What advice would you give to other women starting out?
I have four pieces of advice for women starting out:
1. Do something you are passionate about – passion goes a long way
2. Stay focused- in the beginning there is a tendency to want to do it all
3. Hire smart passionate people that believe in what you are doing
4. Fail fast – if something doesn’t work recognize it and move on