Between February and June of 09 there was a flurry of activity, there were also some great lessons. Seems that I have learned more than I care to some days. It is quite difficult now to admit to how naive I have been, especially in light of the fact that I have always been one to trust my instincts. I have always been a believer in the 6th sense, mothers intuition, gut feeling, whatever you like to call it. It seems that during the last few years most of the mistakes I made had plenty of warning signals, I just ignored them or else talked myself into ignoring them.
I am only sharing my embarrassment in hopes that it will help someone out there that is struggling with that same hmm… feeling, something’s not right. Oprah talks about how the universe hits you with a pebble, then a rock then the rock wall rains down on you. In essence pebbles mean PAY ATTENTION. I guess sometimes we need the wall to wake us up and boy did I get it. Even after one wall fell I continued on to the next wall without learning everything I needed to learn the first time.
Mary set about convincing me to change the name of the line from Ventrano to an American name. Her reasoning was that I was the all America girl with the all American line. She had grand visions of bringing shoe manufacturing back to America and that I could create ad campaigns surrounding this idea. In her mind the only thing that differentiated me from the millions of others was this. I never agreed, I always felt uncomfortable with this idea. (uncomfortable is a pebble)
My thoughts were that yes I would advertise Made in America but, in my mind people don’t buy something for that reason alone. Plus I wanted people to love my designs and if that were my only platform I could never sustain a shoe line, long-term. The next person who made shoes in America could easily do this and then what does that leave? I figured even if the Made in America did have the cachet she thought it would, that would soon pass. If I didn’t have more to offer customers than that, I wouldn’t be around for very long.
Her argument to me was that I should start with the bread and butter line with Made in America and comfort being the main selling points. Seeing that we were Made in America it would be confusing to have an Italian name and you want to make sure your brand identity is very clear. A year or two later I could create another label, a younger (cheaper) contemporary line, then down the road when I’m known and making money I could add my dream line of red carpet shoes, as these were surely not as sellable and practical as the others.
To make it clear I didn’t just go with this the first time I heard it, however as she introduced me to people in the business and to the business itself her plan started sounding more realistic than mine. I really struggled with this idea, I had known from the beginning that Ventrano was the perfect name for a shoe line. Ventrano seemed perfect partly because I had originally assumed I would be making them in Italy and quite simply, I love the name. I have always loved the Ventrano name and was glad to dump my maiden name ages ago. (struggling or feeling conflicted is a pebble)
She suggested that I use my first name Kathy Jo; I did not like it at all. Not that I don’t like my name but my entire life I have learned that anytime you have Jo attached to a name people just assume you must live on a farm and are a country girl. Once people get to know me I don’t think the name has the same feeling because I am many things, but country girl is not one of them. Not that I have any problem with country girls, New York fashionista would have the same feeling on me, does not fit.
So after much deliberation and eventually overriding my own good sense I changed the line to my mothers name Kathleen Jane, she goes by Kathleen but I thought it sounded nice with her middle name. Plus it was a nice way to honor her as she has been my greatest supporter through my entire life. Obviously since the name is Ventrano now I ended up back at my original plan but, we are not there in the story yet.