From Sheepskin Boots to Billion-Dollar Success with Brian Smith

brian smith entrepreneurship inspiring story remaster episode startup success ugg

DealQuest Community, I am so grateful to each of you for allowing the DealQuest Podcast to grow over the last few years. We’ve had so many incredible guests since day one, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. This is why I’ve chosen to remaster many of our older episodes into new life… And what better way to do that than with the story of Brian Smith, Founder of the international icon brand UGG®? Brian is so much more than his UGG® brand, however — he is the entrepreneurial success story.



While surfing in California, it struck Brian that there was a notable absence of easily accessible sheepskin boots in the United States. This led to his first deal with an Australian manufacturer, despite initial reluctance. Luck played a significant role in sealing this pivotal deal. His vision was to create a brand that every American would eventually embrace.
With the manufacturer lined up, Brian and a friend realized they needed capital to buy 500 pairs of boots as samples. A fortunate encounter with a roommate's office colleagues resulted in a $20,000 investment, equivalent to about $70,000 today. This investment set the stage for UGG®'s initial business operations.



The road to success was far from smooth. In the early days, retailers in California were hesitant to embrace sheepskin boots. Despite having high hopes for sales, they encountered resistance. Brian highlights a valuable lesson: Everyone may show interest in your idea… until it’s time to make a commitment.
The initial capital they raised lasted a couple of years, but the company struggled to gain traction. When they ran out of money, Brian decided to bring in another investor, diluting their ownership from 50% to 25%. This infusion of cash allowed them to keep the business afloat.
Brian's resilience shone through during these challenging times. He continued to work tirelessly, building the UGG brand one sale at a time. His ability to adapt, pivot, and find creative solutions was instrumental in his journey.



Throughout his story, Brian emphasizes the importance of listening to one's inner wisdom and staying true to oneself, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Here are key lessons for authenticity in entrepreneurship:

  • Different Objectives, Not Bad Intentions: In negotiations, diverse objectives reflect varying goals and perspectives, rather than indicating bad intentions. Recognizing this is crucial for trust-building in business relationships.
  • The Power of Customer Loyalty: Brian's customers' unwavering loyalty, even in the face of counterfeit products, highlights the importance of exceptional customer service and authentic connections.
  • Staying the Course Amid Challenges: Brian's persistence and belief in UGG® boots' potential kept him going through challenging moments, showcasing the resolve of authentic entrepreneurs.
  • Trusting Your Inner Wisdom: Brian relied on his inner wisdom, accessed through meditation, for pivotal decisions in his entrepreneurial journey.
  • Authenticity as a Guiding Principle: Authenticity isn't a buzzword for Brian; it's a guiding principle that shapes his product, brand, and relationships with partners and customers.

Brian Smith's entrepreneurial journey is a testament to the transformative power of authenticity and trust. By staying true to his vision, trusting his inner wisdom, and forging genuine connections, he transformed a simple idea into a globally recognized brand. His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and a reminder that authenticity and trust are the cornerstones of long-lasting success in any business venture. Trust your inner wisdom, stay authentic, and let it guide you on your entrepreneurial journey.
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For my full discussion with Brian Smith, and more on this topic and topics not featured on this blog post:
Listen to the Full DealQuest Podcast Episode Here

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Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator, and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author, and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

Get deal-ready with the DealQuest Podcast with Corey Kupfer, where like-minded entrepreneurs and business leaders converge, share insights and challenges, and success stories. Equip yourself with the tools, resources, and support necessary to navigate the complex yet rewarding world of dealmaking. Dive into the world of deal-driven growth today!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, deal-maker, and business consultant with more than 35 years of professional negotiating experience as a successful entrepreneur and attorney.


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