If you go looking for descriptive words that work when talking about Chris Burch, there are many – billionaire, fashion guru, real estate investor, entrepreneur, father of six, or maybe even lucky. It would be easy to see all those things in the man and begin to believe that he was simply born under a lucky star. That’s until you take a deeper look.
Chris Burch: Self-Made Man
Yes, he’s had a lot of great things happen in his life, but he’s been willing to take chances when many would have sat back and waited to see how life unfolded. That’s not Christopher Burch. He didn’t grow up with a trust fund ready to back him, but instead in a middle-class family with nine other children. They weren’t poor, but like many such families, they got by, but not by much. When it came time for college, both he and his brother attended a good, but not ivy-league school – Ithaca University, where the two of them noticed a fashion trend among the students.
The two of them scrimped and saved, pulled together funds from some other people they knew until they had $2,000 and then they placed an order for “preppie” style women’s sweaters. When they received their long-awaited merchandise, they discovered that the manufacturer pulled a bait and switch type move on sending the sweaters, but they were smaller than ordered. The Burch boys could have thrown their hands up in the air and given up. But no, they turned their misfortune into marketing genius – selling those skimpy sweaters as if that’s exactly what they ordered and did it in a way that the women at the college scooped them up, netting a 50% profit in the process. Eagle Eye apparel was born and thrived for the next decade until it was selling $140 million worth of merchandise annually. He later sold that and reinvested in other projects.
Burch openly admits that he tends to invest in projects that interest him, and that he can make a creative difference as part of what he brings to any endeavor. In 2004 he invested in his (then) wife’s dream company, and in 2012 – in the middle of divorcing, he sold his share in the $3.5 billion company. With that sale, Chris Burch officially became a billionaire.
Since then he’s flipped a few very high-end homes, invested in a company providing tools and materials for construction, in an office supply company – Poppin – which is rumored to have gotten its start because Burch’s father used to complain about having to buy boring office supplies. There is nothing boring about the office supplies sold at Poppin, nor in their approach to business and employees. He’s the founder of Burch Creative Capital and was one of the investors in Guggenheim Partners.
So, is he lucky – you betcha’. But as many attest, luck is just another way of saying, he’s worked hard, been trustworthy in his dealings, and kept at it, even when things didn’t seem to hold any luck at all. He’s not a quitter, though he does know when it’s time to get out of a deal, and since he’s going to invest time, energy, and capital – he does so only in projects that really draw his interest. Yes, he’s a lucky man.