In conversation with Rodney Lam
Special exclusive interview with Rodney Lam.
Who are you and what do you do?
Wow, You guys aren’t saving the difficult question for last. I always struggle to tell people who I am, or what I do, because I don’t know where to start. In the first conversation I might tell them I’m a serial entrepreneur. Later I might tell them about Daily Paper. Then that person asks me: did you make a movie? To which I confess that I produced, wrote and played the lead in my own movie. I guess, I take my inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci. He was an artist, engineer, inventor and a scholar. I think he just did what he loved with the people he liked. And to me that’s a great philosophy to live by.
How do you think Covid-19 will affect the fashion industry both long-term and short-term? How do you see the impact of Corona crisis on the general perception of fashion? Do you believe everything will just go back to normal after Covid-19, or how do you see it will be?
In the short-term it will be very hard for some Brands to survive. If they were already struggling this could be the nail in the coffin. But a lot of companies reinvented themselves during this crisis. Like people, business also had time to think about who they are. Some redesigned their collection; others changed their marketing strategy; and we all got a lot greener. Let’s hope that we don’t go back to normal. We owe it to ourselves, our customers, and last but not least, to the environment to be better.
What is the coolest new thing you have learnt since being quarantined and how did you learn it?
People need less management than we assume. As managers we like to think the work stops without our direct involvement. However, workers can we very effective on their own. Working from a distance forced us to look at performance and it made other things like attendance and effort less important.
What is your favorite painting/work of art and has it inspired you for any of your work thus far?
I don’t have a specific artist or work that directly inspires me. I like the playfulness of Kaws. And especially the effect it has on fashion. I get my inspiration from music. At the Daily Paper Office, we listen to a lot of hip-hop. But in my home office I listen to Ludovico Einaudi. It really doesn’t matter if I’m crunching numbers or writing a script. It gives me the focus I need.
What has been longtime dream of yours? After already achieving so much.
I have two dreams that I still want to achieve. I hope that I will see space tourism become a real thing. I would love to go into space and see the earth from a distance. And the second thing I really want to do is build a successful movie franchise.
As a fan and a regular customer of Daily Paper, I would love to know what is in store for DP next, besides opening stores in Amsterdam, New York and London?
We’ve recently started the Unite Hub: https://www.dailypaperclothing.com/pages/unite-overview
A place where we share our inspiration online with our community. This was a great success from the beginning. It would be great to see that grow in the near future.
How do you see your entrepreneurship as a way to make difference in society?
It’s important to me to think about the legacy of what we are building. How do we change our society to give our next generations the fundamental chances that we had to work very hard for? To me it isn’t enough to inspire. I want to facilitate people achieving their dreams.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs who are starting their own business ventures?
Be patient my young padawan. Don’t be in a hurry to grow your company too fast. Work a solid foundation first. Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year. But also, don’t underestimate what you can do in five years. So instead of making a plan for a year, make a plan for five years. Think tall, start small.
What makes a successful business in your own words?
A successful company is based on a good and healthy cashflow. If you have a big company without profit or even operating on a loss, you’ll be stressed all the time. And if you only have profit on paper but not in your account, that’s even more frustrating. A friend just gave me the book: Scaling up from Vern Harnish. It will tell you everything you need to know about cashflow. My mentor always said: You keep the profit; I’ll take the cash.
Tell us something about yourself that isn't on your resume.
A lot of people are shocked when they hear I used to be a Pastor. I preached for fifteen years. And did a lot of personal coaching. I still use this in my management style. My objective is always to help other achieve their goals in business or their personal lives. The fastest way for your company to grow is to nurture employees and help them grow first.
Photo credits: Mark Bolk
You can follow Rodney on INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/rodneylam/