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The Opportunity That Led To A Fortune

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it.

The Opportunity That Led To A Fortune

By P.J. Malone

There are times in our lives when we are called upon to make important decisions that, though we may not realize it at the time, can have a major impact on our futures.

It is an interesting look back at the life of fashion mogul Peter Nygard to see how his path led to where he is today. We continue to tell his story as he celebrates 50 years of success in business.

Despite being happy with his job at Eaton’s 50 years ago, Peter Nygard made a fortuitous decision to attend a job interview. That Saturday morning, he had the choice between spending the day with Ms. Sweden, who he had met earlier and fallen in love with, and attending a job interview with Nathan Jacob of Jacob Fashions.

Nathan Jacob had been following Peter Nygård’s achievements and was anxious to have him onboard in his own company. He wasted no time in offering Peter a job as sales manager for a new jeans line he wanted to launch.

In Peter’s mind, this was a demotion. At the age of 26, he was already handling millions in goods for Eaton’s as a regional manager.

He declined. Jacob asked Peter what job he would want. With a secure job back at Eaton’s, Peter felt he had nothing to lose. He boldly stated, “I want your job.”

Peter found himself in front of Nathan Jacob at just the right time. Having five daughters and no sons, Jacob was looking for a protégé. Jacob loved the bold and brash attitude of this young man. He simply said “okay”.

When it came time to discuss salary, Peter sensed that this brashness was working for him. Peter insisted on equity. Jacob agreed.

They worked out a deal for a six-month trial in which Peter Nygard would get equity if he performed as expected.

Peter took a cut in salary for the opportunity at ownership. But he didn’t stop there. Peter also insisted on having Jacob’s beautiful office.

Jacob acquiesced. He said he was looking for someone to take over the business and wanted to spend more time in Florida anyway.

This was the bold start for Peter Nygård in the fashion industry.

Peter Nygård began with the new company on December 1, 1967 and was sent out of town to visit salesmen in three locations. In January, Peter got a call from Nathan Jacob. Jacob had three months to live.

A few weeks later, Nathan Jacob, seeing the potential in Peter Nygård, amended the timeframe in the agreement between him and his protégé. Peter gathered up $8,000 in savings, borrowed the rest of what he needed, and Nathan Jacob made him a partner.

The first year in the business was sheer madness, as Peter described it. Nathan Jacob had passed before he had time to give Peter any training. Peter relied on his education and past experience and operated the business using specific business principles. The Jacob daughters disagreed with his approach. A couple of years later, they came to an agreement and Peter Nygard bought them out.

In honor of Nathan Jacob, Peter renamed the company Tan Jay like the clothing line—Tan for the first three letters of Nathan spelled backwards, and Jay for Jacob. Fifty years later, Nygård still offers a Tan Jay fashion line that appeals to the original Jacob Fashions’ customers.

The proof was in the pudding. At the point that Peter Nygard bought out the Jacob daughters, Peter had turned the struggling 800,000-dollar enterprise into a 1.8 million dollar success. It would only go up from there.

Though it may be sad for him to think about, saying no to Miss Sweden presented the opportunity that led to Peter Nygard’s fortune.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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