March 13, 2018

I is for Inspire

Each letter of our name, CEIPHERS, stands for one of the values of our company.


The third letter I, stands for Inspire … and is “inspired” by people that I admire.

It is difficult for me to talk about what inspires me because so many things do. I’m like one of those Starburst candies. I’m a juicy contradiction. I’m a simple but complex individual. I find inspiration from a multitude of things. The TV and clothing of past decades inspired me to create the Throwback Collection. The color of a bug’s wings inspired me to see if I could recreate that color in a design.

Inspiration can even come from learning about someone else’s story. One of the back-to-school designs came from learning about a friend’s journey through college and watching as he realizes that his education can be a key to a lot more opportunity than he realized. Based on his story, we created a design called “Education is Key” and will be releasing it this fall.

Every design we create has more symbolism and meaning than meets the eye. We will be telling you the stories about that deeper meaning on our website and in our social media … so watch for them.
More than anything else, though, I have to say that it is people who have most inspired and shaped who I am.

A couple of people in my industry serve as both role models and inspirations. Ralph Lauren and Damon John, in that order, in particular, have terrific stories.

Ralph Lauren, was born Ralph Lipshitz in The Bronx, New York City, to Jewish immigrants. His dad owned a clothing store before moving to the United States. When he first moved here, Ralph got into the polo scene. He saw some of the fancier shirts the polo players were wearing and was inspired. The polo logo (the man on the horse swinging the polo stick) was inspired by a photo he took at his first polo match.

In order to build his brand, he needed to create a name for it. He originally thought about calling in the Gentlemen’s Club, but he knew he wanted to go into more than just men’s clothing. Naturally, he had to change his name to Ralph Lauren (his former last name carried a social stigma). It was a pretty bold move.

He is a very strong role model for me, also being an immigrant in this country. To see someone else that has walked this path and changed his life by living the American Dream is a true inspiration to me.

Daymond John is another pioneer in the industry that inspires me to get going when times are tough. He built his business into a billion-dollar brand in just under 10 years. He’s had to declare bankruptcy twice, lost a partner, gained a partner, and maintained a job working at Red Lobster all while building his brand.

Both of these men sacrificed a lot to be successful. They are, and will always be, inspirations to me.

When it comes to the people in my life who have inspired me to be who I have become, my mother and grandmother top the list. We’ve talked about my grandmother’s history in other blogs, but she built an extremely successful business with no education. Then she used that business as a platform to help other women develop their skills and provide for themselves and their families. She even used her retirement money to create Nyaburi Integrated Primary School. I regret not having asked her more about her story while she was alive.

My mother is a huge inspiration for me. I remember when she started as a math teacher and field hockey coach in Kenya. Eventually, she worked as a secretary for a bank. Then she chose to work with Care United and traveled from Kenya to Somalia and the Sudan, educating refugees. She was recognized for her work by the United Nations and eventually went to work for them. She’s now a regional coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa with the United Nations Demographic Group. She travels the world talking about education, health and government reform. No matter how high she rises, she’ll always be a humble woman. She’s been on the news dozens of times, in magazines, and she’s written books on a variety of topics, but has always maintained an amazing level of humility.

Inspiration comes in all forms, from all different places. I encourage you to stay open to everything around you and to take inspiration from every encounter, every person, every object and from every day!

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