I am always fascinated at creative ways that people discover their craft to become entrepreneurs. I recently discovered a book about an entrepreneur named Dapper Dan. Like me, Dapper Dan started his business life as a shoeshine guy. He went on from there to sell remodeled fur coats to New York entertainers, from Nat King Cole to Jay Z.
His book, Dapper Dan, Made in Harlem, is a memoir of Dan R. Day’s business life, from hustling T-shirts on the streets of Harlem to owning a store that was open 24 hours a day. His Motto was: “Everything in your mind don’t look good on your behind.”
The book acquaints you with Harlem life including popular practices like the paper bag color test, discriminatory hiring practices by the city of New York, New York gangs shooting dice, and various hustling tricks used by hustlers in the NY street life. The book tells how Dan went on to form a partnership with a nationally known clothier to owning a three-story building in Harlem.
I am a strong believer in the idea that if you have a business idea, try it. You never know until you try it. Dan went to Africa, purchased clothing, and returned to America with African garments as new products. He learned the silk-screening process and added silk screened products to his line of fashions. He also let other designers sell their products in his store. Marketing schemes like hiring attractive young women to sell to certain clients was an effective strategy. Utilizing skills, he learned working for others paid off, like working with Styrofoam.
Entrepreneurship is a way to demonstrate your creativity and make money from your own mind. Today’s inventions are a result of someone’s idea and some one’s dreams come to life, from Bill Gates’ Microsoft to Elon Musk’s Tesla electric cars. These are some one’s dreams come true.
Fear of failure is the greatest defeater of dreams. Fear stops people from pursuing their dreams. Life has its setbacks and failures as well as successes. These occur on the way to fulﬁlling your dreams. Ego and pride are elements of entrepreneurial success. If ego does not override pride you are on the way to success.
Stories of Dan’s travels tell of his good days and his bad days. One day he watched buses of potential customers pass him by as he sold T-shirts from his table in Harlem. He watched and came back the next Day. He didn’t let his ego take over. He persevered and continued to sell and the money came rolling in.