A Stanford MBA named Roy Raymond wants to buy his wife some lingerie but he's too embarrassed to shop for it at a department store. In this scene, Zuckerberg has just asked Parker why his girlfriend looks so familiar; turns out the woman on Parker’s arm is a Victoria’s Secret model.
In the mid-1970s, Roy Raymond did indeed walk into a department store to buy his wife lingerie, only to find ugly floral-print nightgowns—made even uglier under harsh fluorescent lights—and saleswomen who made him feel like a deviant just for being there. Raymond imagined a Victorian boudoir, replete with dark wood, oriental rugs, and silk drapery. Victoria’s Secret changed all that, and in the Bay Area, its sales continued to boom—thanks in large part to its catalog, which reached customers across the country. Enter Leslie Wexner, the man who had ushered in the mass-market sportswear boom with a store he called The Limited.
Wexner quickly saw what was wrong with the Victoria’s Secret business model: In focusing on a store and catalog that appealed to men, Raymond had failed to draw a large following among women. Nevertheless, Wexner saw the company’s potential, and in 1982, he bought the stores and the catalog for about $1 million (not $4 million, as was reported at the time). Wexner ultimately decided to create for the company what Ralph Lauren mastered the decade before him: A British-inspired aspirational world that the American consumer would clamor to enter.
Sadly, as Wexner’s and Victoria’s Secret’s success grew, Roy Raymond, despite his keen instincts, saw his life fall apart. Roy Raymond’s genius was recognizing the need to remove shame from the process of buying unmentionables. Sometime in the mid-1970s, a 30-year-old man named Roy Raymond walked into a department store to buy his wife lingerie.
Armed with $80,000 and a lot of guts, Raymond and his wife leased a small space in a mall in Palo Alto, California, and opened a lingerie store. Enter Leslie Wexner, a businessman whose brainchild “The Limited,” a sportswear store, was booming that time; he was also looking out to venture into new brands.
Immediately, Wexner figured out what was missing in Raymond’s formula: because Victoria’s Secret focused on male customers, the brand failed to attract a significant following from female customers.
Wexner, seeing the potential of the brand, bought Victoria’s Secret, catalogue and stores, for $1 million.
Unfortunately, as Wexner and Victoria’s Secret success grew, Roy Raymond’s life slowly fell apart. As Naomi Barr puts it,”Roy Raymond’s genius was recognizing the need to remove shame from the process of buying unmentionables.
Ultimately, this story of both sadness and triumph teaches us how not to give up on our dreams and to persevere despite hardships. Somewhere in San Marcos, Texas there is 16-acre extra-ordinary ranch called The Freeman Ranch. Surgery was like a death sentence before antisepsis was introduced – it would have been better to live with whatever disease you had than undergo surgery and risk contact with the gazillions of bacteria that reside in the instruments. The photo above shows how the blood vessels are tied using a string to stop the blood flow, a procedure called ligature. Parker, founder of Napster (and the first president of Facebook), is impressing upon young Zuckerberg that the true genius behind what he calls a “once-in-a-generation-holy-shit idea” isn’t necessarily the idea itself, but the insight, drive, and perseverance to see just how far the idea can go. Realizing that other male friends felt the same way, the 30-year-old saw an opportunity to create a market where none existed: A lingerie store designed to make men feel comfortable shopping there. He chose the name “Victoria” to evoke the propriety and respectability associated with the Victorian era; outwardly refined, Victoria’s “secrets” were hidden beneath.


While still in his 20s, Wexner had recognized that women were forgoing dresses for separates and casual wear. While visiting one of his Limited outposts in San Francisco, he stumbled across Victoria’s Secret. According to Trading Up, Wexner surmised that women were about as uncomfortable in Victoria’s Secret as Raymond had been in that flourescent-lit department store.
His first step, Silverstein and Fiske wrote, was to study European lingerie boutiques, whose female customers approached lingerie as an everyday essential. Gone were the dark woods and deep reds of the original stores; now, gilded fixtures, floral prints, classical music, and old-timey perfume bottles filled the space. After selling the company to Wexner, Raymond stayed on as president of Victoria’s Secret for about another year before leaving to open My Child’s Destiny, a high-end children’s retail and catalog company based in San Francisco. But much like the failure of Friendster and the old MySpace as Facebook began to reign supreme, his story reads like a cautionary tale of how a brilliant opportunity can be seized and yet missed. What he found in the store were floral, unappealing nightdresses that stuck out like a sore thumb under the fluorescent lights of the store. After realizing that his friends felt the same way when shopping for lingerie, he saw an opportunity to establish a market where basically none existed — he planned to build a lingerie store that would make men feel utterly comfortable. He went for the name “Victoria” to evoke the kind of respectability that is associated with the Victorian era. For most of the women back then, lingerie was reserved for special occasions: honeymoons, anniversaries, you get the idea. There was something missing in Raymond’s formula, and he just couldn’t seem to figure it out. Wexner, during his visit to one of his stores in San Francisco, caught sight of Victoria’s Secret.
His initial step was to study European lingerie boutiques, whose large following of female customers perceive lingerie as an everyday essential and not an ornament worn only during special occasions.
After selling the company, Raymond remained president of Victoria’s Secret for about a year, before leaving to focus on My Child’s Destiny, a sophisticated children’s retail and catalogue company based in San Francisco.
However, it is easy to assume that he deeply regretted his decisions, especially when a company that he sold for $1 million ended up being worth more than $1 billion. Extra ordinary because instead of growing crops or raising livestock, they do something terribly morbid but quite necessary.
He gets a $40,000 bank loan, borrows another $40,000 from his in-laws, opens a store, and calls it Victoria's Secret. There’s no better example to prove his point than the story of Raymond, Wexner, and Victoria’s Secret. In 1977, with $80,000 of savings and loans from family, Raymond and his wife leased a space in a small shopping mall in Palo Alto, Calif., and Victoria’s Secret was born.
For most American women, sensual lingerie was reserved for the honeymoon trousseau or the anniversary night; Frederick’s of Hollywood was the granddaddy of the specialty lingerie retailers. By 1982, the company had annual sales of more than $4 million—yet something in Raymond’s formula was not working. Wexner returned home convinced that if American women had access to the same kind of sexy, affordable lingerie as their European counterparts, they, too, would want to wear it every day. By 1995, according to Trading Up, Victoria’s Secret had become a $1.9 billion company with 670 stores nationally. But, according to a New York Times article at the time, a poor marketing strategy (focused too much on attracting only well-heeled parents) and an even poorer location (little walk-in traffic) forced them to file a Chapter 11 petition two years later in 1986.


Add to this the piercing stare of the saleslady who made him feel like a pervert just for being there — the experience was truly appalling.
Underwear was not about fun — it was all about functionality, practicality, and durability.
The catalogue, which featured sexy women in silk and lace underwear, may have been responsible for this boom, having been able to reach customers across the country (you can check out a 1979 catalogue here). He went inside the store and saw the sexiest lingerie he had ever seen in the United States. Silverstein and Neil Fiske, Wexner surmised that women were as uncomfortable in Victoria’s Secret as Raymond had been in the fluorescent-lit department store.
Wexner was convinced that American women would gladly welcome the kind of sexy and affordable lingerie that the European women had access to. According to Trading Up, by 1995, Victoria’s Secret was worth $1.9 billion and had 670 stores across the United States.
When the women’s movement of the late 1960s and ’70s called for women to liberate themselves from the bondage of bras, the intimate apparel industry responded with new designs that they claimed would give women the natural look they desired without the embarrassment of a sagging bustline. He also saw a gaping hole in the intimate apparel market—next to no products that filled the gap between the luxury brands and the Maidenforms and Cross Your Hearts. As they continued to refine and tweak the company image (they abandoned the English-boudoir theme around 2000), Victoria’s Secret became the most popular apparel brand in the world today, according to YouGov BrandIndex, with a net income of nearly $5 billion. The Raymonds ended up divorcing, and in 1993, Roy Raymond jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving behind two teenage children.
He imagined a world where there was no such thing as an unmentionable, and figured out a way to make it so.
At present, as the company image continuously undergoes tweaking and refinement, Victoria’s Secret has become one of the most popular apparel brands in the world, having a net income of nearly $5 billion annually. Raymond and his wife ended up divorcing, and on one fateful day in 1993, Raymond jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving behind his two teenage children. He starts a catalog, opens three more stores, and after five years he sells the company to Leslie Wexner and the Limited for $4 million.
The Limited grew to 11 stores by 1970, and 188 by 1977, according to a Forbes profile published that year.
Wexner envisioned “a La Perla for the mass market.” Finally, a new shopping environment—one that was inviting to women and fulfilled an attainable fantasy of glamour and luxury—would help create greater demand. 10 Margaret Street—was invented, even though headquarters were in Columbus.* The catalog, which had become modern and racy, was softened to reflect the new image, with models who looked like they had just walked off the pages of Vogue or Glamour.
He made sexy underwear commonplace, and convinced us that investing in what’s underneath our clothes is as necessary as the clothes themselves.
Ultimately, a new market that was appealing to women and fulfilled a relatively attainable fantasy of luxury and glamor would create huge demand.
Except two years later, the company's worth $500 million and Roy Raymond jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge.



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