Eddie Huang: “I’m about getting paper, but I need a ‘why’”
The story Eddie Huang told today at Big Omaha involved one hustle after another dating back to early childhood.
Edie Huang, writer, chef, entrepreneur and TV personality, took stage on day two of Big Omaha 2012 to speak to the crowd at KANEKO. His presentation, laden with photos of celebrities and quirky commentary, brought laughs and motivation to attendees.
From the age of 6, Huang has been a businessman. When his mother gave him pots and spatulas to use as toys, he found a way to get the latest Transformer toys in exchange for doing his classmates' homework. When the plan played out, his entrepreneurial spirit was sparked. It continued to thrive, as Huang sold everything from jpegs to shoes and apparel. What he's learned in these many ventures is what has made him successful today.
It is about the money.
"People are embarrassed to get money and chase dreams," Huang said, "but it is about making money." He said that without money, businesses are just hobbies.
Nothing is crazy if it works.
After moving to New York, Huang began selling rare Nikes from all over the world. He would purchase the shoes from cities that didn't have a market for them and sell them out of his studio apartment on the same days that stores would release the shoes. For three years, he sustained the business and quickly had lines forming to see the new products he had in.
Find something you really believe in.
A change came to Huang after viewing the "Newsweek" cover featuring Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in January of 2007. His pull to Obama forced Huang to find a way to make money while supporting the cause. "I'm about getting paper, but I need a 'why,' " Huang said. At the time, street shirts were popular, yet no one had tried to encompass political messaging. Under the name of Bergdorf Hoodman, Huang began making jerseys with "Obama '08" on them.
Soon after a few stores had picked up the shirts, Huang received a call from Nima Neems, "godfather of street wear." Neems bought all of the shirts that had been produced and sold them on his website, Digital Gravel. Soon, the shirts were seen around the city and on many celebrities. "If your cause is big enough," he said, "nothing will curb your enthusiasm"
Put your personality behind your product.
After successfully starting multiple businesses, Huang quickly found what worked for him and why. Following his father's footsteps, he became a restaurant owner in New York. But unlike his father's steakhouses, Huang's restaurant, BaoHaus, was focused on the food he was used to eating at home. That makes the dining experience his guests have "real, genuine, and authentic," just how Huang envisioned it to be.
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