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Laura: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Light Files by Laura Max on The Businessmakers Show. I'm your host, Laura Max, and I am so excited to be bringing you Houston's hottest fashion designer, the nationally recognized David Peck, owner of David Peck USA. David, welcome to the show.
David: Thank you so much for having me.
Laura: We're so excited to have you. I know you are another person who has followed a very unconventional dream and unconventional ways, which is what we want to hear all about on this show. So please tell us more about your road to fashion, fame, and glory.
David: I don't know that I'm quite there yet, but hopefully on the way. Yeah, I didn't take the most direct route. It was a little bit circuitous, but I'm here now, and I'm super happy, and I love what I do. My background, actually, of my first degree was in classical cello.
Laura: Not exactly what the trajectory that you're in now.
David: No, not business, not fashion, not anything related at all, except for I guess it is creative. Uses the right side of the brain. But when I was doing that, I realized that it just wasn't me. The lifestyle of the musician was just not one that I wanted to lead. And while I was doing that, I was also working at Ralph Lauren. I kind of started off in sales, and then gradually made my way into visuals and started designing windows and really found out that I loved what I was doing. I loved the creative process. I loved working with other creative people.
Laura: You said you had lots of friends who sort of chimed in and said, "Hey, David, you're really good at this."
David: Yeah, so one of the things why I ended up in music is because nobody had ever kind of noticed any of the natural talents that I did have with fashion or creativity. I taught myself to sew when I was 11. That should have been some indication.
Laura: Yeah, hello.
David: Yeah, but nobody ever told me, "Oh, you could make a career out of this." I had some friends who were very wise and said, "You know, you really love this. You should pursue this." And so I said, "Okay, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right." So I finished my first degree, put together a portfolio, and then moved to Paris and went to school, got my second degree there, and then lived and worked for about two years after I graduated in Paris before moving back to the states.
Laura: Fantastic. So we're sitting in your fashion house, your studio right now, you'd call it. So how did you end up here? Tell us about that.
David: Yes, I mean it's funny how things work out. I met my wife while we were both in Paris. She was working internationally with UNESCO, a part of the UN, doing international education work, but was originally from Houston. We came back to the states and lived in New York for a while where I was working, but her mother had found out that she had cancer two weeks before we got married. Long story short, it was just too hard going back and forth between New York and here, and we decided that it was best for Michelle to come back, and then I eventually moved back a couple months after that. And I kind of thought my career was over. I knew it was the right decision. I knew I was supposed to come to Texas, but I kind of came kicking and screaming. I was like, "I've never lived in Texas. I don't want to live in Texas. I don't want to live in Houston."
Laura: Yeah, coming from New York, it can be challenging when you're in the fashion capital of the world.
David: Well, that, and having lived in Paris for almost five years, it was just too much of a culture shock.
Laura: Quite a contrast.
David: Yeah, but I think everything happens for a reason, and my mind was definitely changed about what was possible here in Houston. Just the entrepreneurial community here is so amazing, and the amount of support that you get. You can really reevaluate how you do business, and I was able to kind of do something that was slightly different than I would have ever been able to do. In fact, completely different than I would have ever been able to do in New York just because of the lack of resources here made me be more creative.
Laura: My mom always says that if you have an idea, there's somebody in Houston who wants to hear it. I mean it really does welcome you with open arms.
David: It's true. As soon as I told somebody that I had this idea, they're like, "That's a great idea. Why don't you do it?" It really spurred me to do this much more quickly, I think, than I might have otherwise done just because people here - when they hear you and they believe in you, they put their money where their mouth is and they support you.
Laura: It's really amazing. If any of my New Yorker friends are watching this right now, this is a commercial for you to move here.
David: It is. I'm like the biggest Houston fan ever now.
Laura: Yeah, me too. It's the best. It's really the best. Sorry, guys.
David: A little Houston love.
Laura: A little Houston love.
David: But yeah, it's a wonderful environment, and there's not a lot of manufacturing for - especially in fashion here, but what it is is there's a lot of space.
Laura: Tons of space.
David: There's a ton of space. We have a wonderful central location here that we would never have in the city in New York.
Laura: Yeah, I mean you're right on the strip practically.
David: Yeah, I know, we're like right in the center of town. We have a huge factory. We have over 6,000 square feet, and it's great to be able to have all that we have so centrally located so close to all our clients. And yeah, it's - I couldn't have asked for more.
Laura: So now that you're here, and I know you're not going to call yourself a big star, even though I am, and I'm not going to move on that point, there must have been people along the way who said you were crazy. Right?
David: Yeah, I mean I think a lot of people thought I was crazy. I think - my family has always been very supportive, but I think it's always with that, "You are crazy. You realize that."
Laura: What are you doing?
David: Yeah, what are you doing? I mean I thought I was crazy because like I said, I thought my career was over. I really thought I was moving here, I had another job, which allowed me to move here. I was travelling around the country, and I thought that was it. I was like, "I'm going to go into academia. I am going to probably work for Rice University in admissions or something, and this is what I'm going to do with my life now that I'm in Houston. Let's put fashion and all those things on the backburner."
Laura: And now, here you are.
David: Yeah, so I think I was my own biggest doubter in the very beginning, even more than anybody else.
Laura: Well, as we ask every contestant or contender at the end of the Light Files, if you will, what was it that helped you overcome that, and what would you tell someone else who is thinking about jumping off the edge in their career and hesitating?
David: I think the thing that has made me want to do this continually, even - because it's not easy. I mean as much success as we've had and as wonderful as people have been, it's been a very tough road, and it's been a lot of - lot of work. A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of stress and anxiety, but I always knew going into this that this is what I was meant to do. Like I knew that whether it was with fashion or whether it was some other medium, I was meant to have a bigger impact on the world. And I think knowing that, even now as the business grows or changes or whatever happens to it, I know that I'm supposed to have a bigger impact on the world. Knowing that, it doesn't necessarily matter what I'm doing if I have that intent. And so I think that is really - besides all the wonderful support that I get from my family and friends and everything, that's the one thing that kind of carries me forward, knowing that there's a purpose to all of this, that it's bigger than myself, that I'm supposed to be making a positive impact.
Laura: And you're opening doors for other people, too, who want to do the same thing.
David: I hope so. That's what I really would love to do. We employ so many of the Vietnamese community here in Houston, which is really wonderful for me to not only experience that culture, but also realize there's a whole other world out there, and to be able to give that many - we employ about 25 right now like full-time workers, plus another about 20 contract workers. To be able to bring that many jobs and offer that much, to me, it's - that's what makes me proud beyond like the designs of the clothes or all the frou-frou stuff. We're actually working. We're actually doing something, hopefully, that makes a positive impact in not only the people who purchase our clothes lives, but the people who work here, and they are able to take pride in that.
Laura: So for someone who isn't as familiar with the world of fashion or with your brand, what can they expect the price tag to be when they come into your store?
David: So we like to think that we're accessible luxury, so we're at what is called a contemporary price point. So tops range anywhere from 145 to about 295 retail, and dresses are anywhere from 195 retail to about 400, and then gowns go all the way up from 500 to $15,000.00. So it goes higher in.
Laura: You're for every size pocketbook.
David: We're for every size pocketbook, and we have great sales, too.
Laura: Fantastic. Yes, they do have great sales. There's one going on right now, actually. Well, we're so excited for you and for all the success we know is to come in David Peck USA. And I'm sure that many of our viewers like myself are going to want to go shopping after watching this. So where can they do that, David?
David: Well, you can always find us online. DavidPeckUSA.com, but then we're also sold nationally in a lot of retailers here in Houston. Tootsies has been a number one biggest fan from the very, very beginning. Other regional retailers, like Jillian Gold, Halls, a lot of regional department stores, but always online.
Laura: And they can come here.
David: And you can come here. Yeah.
Laura: 3200 Kirby.
David: Exactly, Suite 200. Right by the Café Express.
Laura: I am looking out right now at all the fashion, even though you can't see it, and I hope I don't go home with all of it because it's all so fabulous. So thank you for joining us today.
David: Thank you for having me.
Laura: I am your host, Laura Max. You can follow me on Twitter, @LauraMaxNelson, or on Facebook, Facebook.com/TheLightFiles, and I'll be on TheBusinessmakers.com every Saturday bringing you another episode with someone who is following their unconventional dreams in unconventional ways. Thanks for joining us. Bye, guys.