Supermodel Cindy Crawford came to USC to share her perspective on building enduring brands at an event hosted by the USC Marshall School of Business’ Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
The talk, moderated by David Belasco as part of his course, “The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Taking the Leap,” was the most recent in a series in which business leaders discuss their philosophies with budding entrepreneurs.
Crawford spoke to a crowd of 650 students and faculty, telling the story of her phenomenal ascent in modeling and then her transition as an entrepreneur, with projects including a best-selling exercise video series as well as skin care and home furnishing lines.
The businesswoman described the decisive moment she decided not to renew a lucrative contract with Revlon to instead launch Meaningful Beauty, a skin care enterprise that recently reached the billion-dollar mark in sales.
“There comes a point,” Crawford said, “where you want to participate. I guess I believed in myself and the idea and the intention of Meaningful Beauty and wanted to take the chance.”
She counseled those looking to create their own brands to clearly define not only who they seek to reach, but also what attributes their venture embodies.
“The more you can visualize who that person is, the better you can make the right connection and the right decisions,” said Crawford, who is protective of the personal brand she has spent 20 years building.
Crawford admitted that while celebrity status might help open doors when starting new ventures, it is not the magic answer to success.
“The product is the most important thing,” Crawford said. “You may be able to get someone to look at it, but the product needs to stand on its own.”