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The story that has taken a Startup worth $8,000 to a mega corporation of $877,000,000.

When we read about the huge amounts of profit successful entrepreneurs make, we are overwhelmed on the one hand and greatly disappointed on the other. The amounts involved and power they wield inhibit some startups.

For example, a fashion designing startup has a wonderful designing talent and great vision, but after reading the news of the likes of Nygard and Bacon, two popular billionaires in industry circles, their jaw drops and their heart sinks.

Could I stand against such giants, the dwarf is worried.

However, the giants we now talk highly of haven’t come into the limelight directly from the heavens; they have toiled the same soil that we are planning to toil ourselves.

On the other hand, to some of the over-enthusiastic startups, the success stories make them walk about with their heads in the clouds, obviously making them ignore the pitfalls and the sweat that has to be shed in becoming successful.

To make my point clear, I take up the case of Peter Nygard, one of the richest fashion designers in the world, who is again in the news (Lawsuit Filed Against Peter Nygard For $50m; By RASHAD ROLLE; Tribune Staff Reporter, Monday, January 26, 2015).
You may read this story in 5 minutes or fewer, but the developments in the story have taken a solid half a century.

From a startup business worth $ 8,000 to a whopping business worth $ 877,000,000

The Nygard International is a women’s fashion brand whose founder and chairman is the Finnish born Canadian, Peter J. Nygard. Peter Nygard started this fashion business house with $ 8,000 in 1967, which over the years developed into one of the Top International fashion brands with his attractive lines of women’s clothing, especially the pants, worth more than $ 877 million.

In the House of Nygard International the women wear pants, and Peter Nygard designs those pants to fit them attractively on the ladies’ bodies and to fit them modestly in those ladies’ budgets!

After graduating from the University of North Dakota, he entered into fashion clothing business with an investment of $ 8,000 to buy a share of 20% in Nathan Jacobs struggling clothes-making business and gradually took it over and made clothes under ten brand names, supplying designs for Sears and the Bay in Canada and Dillard’s chain of department stores here in the US.

The Nygard International now enjoys a world class reputation with stores in over 30 states in the US alone. With its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, it has offices in the USA, Hong Kong and China, with over 200 of its own outlets and over 1500 spaces in department stores, staffing over 12,000 employees worldwide.

Like most other fashion designers, Peter Nygard has, over the years, included other fashion items: men’s wear, footwear, sun glasses, perfume, bags, accessories and jewelry to make his House full.

Nygard International is regarded as one of the few fashion design companies that made the best use of online marketing. With its own software, it links up with all Nygard retail shops; and stocks, and orders are received and deliveries are made faster and more efficiently, cutting down 30% on the costs. Customers can experience a sample of this high-tech marvel in Time Square store in New York City. Any lady who visits the online website displaying Nygard Slims can’t leave the site without placing an order. Such is the ‘cut’ Nygard clothes have in them!

Darth Wader of the Fashion Universe?

In business nothing is a smooth ride. Everyone, without exception, experiences turbulences of one kind or the other, but the intrepid ones continue their struggle with determination and courage.

It’s become common to see Peter Nygard’s name as much in the tabloids and crime news as in the prestigious fashion magazines and TV programs.

While his fashion designing career is running smoothly earning him millions, his personal life experiences a lot of turbulence costing him millions!

This 70-year-old flamboyant fashion designer has been the victim of the ‘Dark Side of the Force’. There were allegations of his reckless Playboy attitude ten years ago, and the number of cases filed against him on charges of this or that has been multiplying since.

It could be that Peter Nygard may have been a bit of a playboy at times as it is the unwritten edict in the show business. Everyone plays a bit on some ‘blissful’ occasion, and energetic people like Peter Nygard may show a little more ‘gleefulness’ than the others.

Whatever the truth may be, this nonchalant fashion icon is accused of committing all the possible crimes in the business world, including tax evasion, unethical business practices and forced labor.

In its report, the National Labor Committee, a private group in Pittsburgh, complained that Nygard had his Alia line pants stitched in sweatshops in Jordan, forcing men and women, trafficked from the Indian Sub-continent, whose passports were confiscated, forced to work 15 hours a day seven days a week for only half the wages they were promised. Some news reports screamed ‘The modern day slavery.’

In 1990, Peter Nygard, reports said, paid large sums to settle three sexual harassment complaints filed by his ex-employees with Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

Those with conscience might be forced to believe these rumors as Peter Nygard has had seven children by four women but married only once.

The Bahamas Connection

While most businesses, including almost all the world class fashion brands, are affected by their connections with China, Peter Nygard is affected by his connection with the Bahamas, an island country in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida Keys, Florida.

Peter Nygard bought a piece of land, four acres in size, and called it Nygard Cay, to live and work from there. However, when he decided to build a luxury resort with Mayan theme in the backdrop, all the hell broke loose and landed him in a series of lawsuits in the Bahamas and the USA.

Nygard Cay — If you ask for the price, you probably can’t afford it!

Though his clothing lines are priced modestly, the $ 50 million project, in which he showed his artistic talent in construction, too, accommodates only the filthy rich. This ‘Robin Crusoe playground’ has every romantic pleasure money can buy. There are private beaches, beach-ball courts, tennis courts, pools, spas salons, massage parlors, and of course, bars. Naturally, the list of guests is as ‘classy’ as itself. Some of the dignitaries that made their appearance at this no-expense-spared architectural marvel are Sean Connery and Robert DeNiro, the famous Hollywood actors; Oprah Winfrey, the world famous TV business personality; and the former President George H.W. Bush (the senior Bush).

The Clash of the Billionaires

So, what went wrong? The neighbor living next to the Nygard Cay is Louis M Bacon, a billionaire himself. He felt Peter Nygard’s noisy parties, rather orgies, a nuisance and wanted Nygard to do something about it. When Nygard did not comply with his request, Bacon filed a lawsuit against Nygard accusing him of conducting commercial activities on residential premises. When there was a delay in the court proceedings, Bacon in his fresh complaint blamed Nygard of encroachment of the nearby government property to make his point stronger. The legal battle snowballed into a full scale global issue when he even accused Nygard of disturbing the environment by dredging the beaches and building stone walls on the beaches.

Adding fuel to fire, Peter Nygard, stirred up two hornet’s nests by setting up a stem cell search facility on his property and claimed that his scientists have found a way to not only stop growing old but also reverse ageing process! This news shook the science world. There have been protests from every scientific corner and there are Stem Cell experts who oppose the idea of research in this field.

There are groups of environment lovers and anti-stem cell research protesters who took a stand against Peter Nygard, trying their best to ‘name assassin’ him on the Internet, sending requests to customers to “boycott” Nygard International fashion brands!

Peter Nygard’s Philanthropy

If we Keep the accusations at bay for the time being and concentrate on the Bright Side of this fashion tycoon, we see that he is a man of kind heart. He donates $2 million every year to the breast cancer research. He has been a sports enthusiast and has won number of sports and community service awards.

His service to the community has been recognised by the governments of Canada, the US, the Bahamas, and France, to name a few, and there is a long list of awards given to him for his entrepreneurship and his involvement in sports and service to the society in general.

After all, but for him, how will our women folk wear pants!

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.