Never forget where you came from
It’s fascinating to think about how great companies often start with a humble yet ambitious vision to solve a simple problem they’ve identified and know how to address. The process of understanding this is complex, but the brilliance of entrepreneurs who have managed to satisfy these needs are the main characters of the most captivating success stories.
In the process of discovering what I might have in common with these individuals who have changed the world, I realize that, like me, some of them decided to emigrate and adapt to a new culture. Most people who have experienced leaving their culture behind know that it can be both challenging and rewarding. Being immersed in a new environment, meeting new people, and exploring the culture is a demanding process. That’s why it sparks my interest to hear the stories of those who have gone through similar situations and achieved their dreams.
One such story is that of Moses Philips, who founded PVH Corp (NYSE: PVH) more than a century ago. PVH Corp’s history dates back to 1881, when Moses and his wife started producing and selling handmade shirts. Both had emigrated from Suwalki, Poland and found themselves in need of a source of income upon arriving in New York. They had a large family to support, and as we all know, supporting a family of eight is no easy task. So, in 1881, Moses set out to sell shirts to the employees of a coal mine in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Every morning, he would take his pushcart full of shirts sewn by his wife, Endel, with the goal of bringing money back home to support their family.
Later on, Moses saw a need to help new immigrants who did not qualify for medical coverage, so in response, he set out to raise enough money to open a medical clinic for these immigrants. This small family business continued to grow, eventually evolving from a pushcart into the multi-billion dollar company PVH Corp (NYSE: PVH) is today. In 1921, the company introduced the folding collar and started trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where it still trades today under the name PVH Corp (NYSE: PVH).
Today, PVH Corp owns well-known brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, both of which are among the 20 most transparent brands in the fashion industry according to Statista’s fashion transparency index. This index measures how much information apparel companies disclose about their suppliers, supply chain practices and policies, and socio-environmental impacts.
After several mergers and acquisitions, the New-York based PVH Corp (NYSE: PVH) has evolved from its 1881 roots into a diversified, world-class apparel company with $9.9 billion in revenues in 2019. In fact, it ranked second on Statista’s list of the world’s largest apparel companies by revenue in 2020. Its value proposition is to be the most admired fashion and lifestyle company worldwide, driving fashion forward through its brands.
It’s interesting to think that a multi-billion dollar company started with someone simply packing a small cart with shirts. If you ever think about a business idea, just think about what your pushcart is filled with, but whatever it is, never forget where you came from. This is precisely what Moses Phillips’s great-grandson, Lawrence S. Phillips, once said. And it’s no surprise that at the entrance of PVH Corp’s offices, you’ll find a wooden cart stacked with shirts as a reminder of where they came from.