Matthew Chevallard, Del Toro Shoes
"First off, starting a business with friends is a nightmare. Always remember to put every imaginable provision on paper before a business is started with your friend.
"Another important lesson is one must build a company around sales, a concept, and build organically from there. My two business partners who ran the company before I did were very scattered in developing Del Toro and as a result the company almost went belly-up before I took it over. I focused on moving product and sales and figuring it out from there what actually worked.
"My business partners thought that we could kill the market by introducing velvet slippers with customization at a much more affordable price level. Therefore, they bought 75K in inventory of black velvet classics and a 20K Toyota embroidery machine thinking we could do embroidery directly onto them. They were sadly disillusioned after the fact that that is impossible. Therefore, the first two years, we realized our business model was flawed and we were digressing day by day. When I took it over, I wanted to switch the focus from customized velvet slippers and a mom and pop feel company to a lifestyle luxury brand. My intent was to move beyond the velvet slipper as soon as I had the chance. Also, I had no interest in being a bootleg velvet slipper company with no identity. Therefore, I moved the company to Miami from Palm Beach and began crafting the identity Del Toro stands for today: a luxury lifestyle brand influenced by American Prep x Italian elegance x NY/ Japanese streetwear sneakerhead culture.
"The list goes on and on with hiccups and bumps and the moral of the story is you live and learn from every mistake and everything is to be learned from. Important thing is you evolve and hone yourself with every challenge instead of being crippled by it. Ultimately every annoying bad thing that happened to me was a blessing in disguise that helped me find a cheaper and more efficient way."