A Conversation with Ronnie Fieg
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Ronnie Fieg has been making waves in the shoe industry for the past few years. With dreams of designing sneakers and the opportunity to work towards that goal, Ronnie began working for footwear chain owner David Z at the age of 15. From his days as a stock boy to store buyer and frequent brand collaborator, the multifaceted Fieg has seen his fair share of success in a cutthroat industry, including the opening of his own retail operation in 2011.
Making a name for myself… has been something I’ve been able to accomplish over the years through my collaborations with various well-known companies, even though none of the products actually bear my name or logo. I take pride in the quality of the footwear and would rather have the consumer notice this first rather than the RF logo that’s in front of the company it’s connected with. I have taken quite a risk in my career, but I think it’s important to do so when trying to grow and achieve your goals.
Working retail has taught me the value of… perseverance. I worked every aspect of the industry, from the stockroom to the sales floor to the register. All of this allowed me to develop my networking skills and most importantly, it allowed me study and gain knowledge in different categories of footwear. As much flack as retail gets for being a non-glamorous profession, it’s taught me many valuable lessons that I use in my everyday career and personal life.
New York City is cutthroat in the sense… that regardless of the occupation that you choose, you are, unfortunately, replaceable. In these times, money is everything and there will always be someone out there willing to do your job for less. For this reason, it remains important for me to have such crazy competition because it keeps me on my toes and requires me to think ahead. I believe that it’s part of the reason you see so many successful careers coming out of NYC.
Building a successful collaboration… involves studying your audience and trying to fill in the voids they feel may be there. I have been fortunate to work with many successful companies and they’ve allowed me to put my own twist on an existing product. A successful collaboration to me is not necessarily in the facts and figures, but rather in the reaction of the consumer.
Leaving David Z has offered me the opportunity… to expand my work and fulfill my dreams of opening my own retail and consulting operation. I can now be Ronnie Fieg and not just “Ronnie from David Z.” That being said, I’m extremely grateful and thankful for all the invaluable lessons that I have learned while with the company and to David himself for being not only a boss, but a mentor as well.
Producing consistent quality… is one of the most important factors in my career. It’s safe to say that I’m addicted to putting out quality product. I’m only as good as my last project and that forces me to challenge and inspire myself to make the next project better than the last. The greatest obstacle has been portraying the message of quality and making sure the consumer understands my goal in putting out a project.
Negativity arises… not as often as before, but it still exists. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t please everyone and I’m not setting out to do so. I try to focus solely on the product and what I can do to better please those who are fans of my work as well as those searching for special product.
Focusing on multiple opportunities at one time is… in my nature and it’s all that I’ve ever known. I spend my waking hours thinking up new ideas and what I can do next. I don’t see it as working too much, because when you’re doing what you love, it’s not work. Maybe I’ll burn out one day, but my career to me is similar to that of driving a car in the Daytona 500. You wouldn’t be able to complete a race if all you’re thinking about is crashing into a wall.
Convincing footwear brands… to take risks with their products can be difficult. Many of these companies have not yet embraced social media and do not exactly have an ear to the street, so they are sometimes hesitant to try something different. I have to sell myself as a brand and have them see why it would be important for them to allow me to bring a fresh approach and ideas that can make their product reach a new audience.
Maintaining a focus on social media… is a way for me to keep in touch with my fans and see what is going on in the industry. While these outlets are a great way for me to promote my products, they also allow me to keep in touch with those who follow my work and hear their feedback, which is very important to me. I get excited whenever I read someone appreciating my work and it gives me motivation to keep going.