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Posted on 10 October 2013

Keep on keeping on

What drives an entrepreneur?

Vince Camuto’s career is a great example of what drives an entrepreneur to keep going and going and going.

Interviewed for Fortune magazine by Dinah Eng, Camuto tells the story of his career, and if you need encouragement to keep going, then just read on. Vince Camuto, now 75, started work selling ladies and fashion footwear in his native New York. That inspired him to start designing shoes and, encouraged by his mentor Ted Poland (Sudbury Shoe Co), he then became a merchandiser, turned Sudbury around by designing and selling collections, and then became involved with Beck industries, a footwear importer.

Backed by Sumitomo Bank, he started a manufacturing facility in Brazil in 1969, designing and importing private-label shoes, and ten years later he started his own company with Jerome Fisher, another Sumitomo contractor. They decided to call it ‘Nine West’, after their address at 9 West 57th Street in Manhattan.

By 1999 it was worth $2 billion, so Camuto sold. Two years later he was back in business with Alex Dillard developing labels for department stores, and formed the Camuto Group - a company that now boasts nine luxury lifestyle categories and $2.5 billion in sales. In addition, the group supplies over 5,000 department stores and retailers worldwide.

Vince Camuto describes his business as a love affair. If you’re having doubts about your own career, don’t give up - get yourself a mentor and fall in love.

With thanks to Dinah Eng for her article ‘Nine West founder looks back’ in Fortune magazine, 4/7/11, which provided the information for these thoughts.