Levi Strauss came to America to "stake his claim". He accomplished this, however he did not find a nugget. How did his '5' pocket pants transform this entrepreneur?
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With the merger of Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, a Reno tailor who suggested their going in together to obtain a patent on his idea of reinforcing areas for work pants, the 501, known as XX, "waist overall" became famous. The denim material, a serge fabric which originated in Nimes, France, provided strength of material for the riveted pants.
After obtaining the patent in 1873, Levi convinced Davis to come to San Francisco where Levi had a dry goods store. A factory was opened and the 501 jean became a best seller. Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis became wealthy men and "Levi" became an American word.
Nevertheless, Levi remained humble, insisting that his employees call him by his first name. His generosity to orphanages, especially the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Hme. His philanthrophy extended to other Jewish organizations, Catholic and Protestant orphanages as well as to the development of a new railroad from San Francisco to the Joaquin Valley. In 1897 funds for 28 scholarships were provided to the University of California, Berkeley.
While the greatest personal transformation in Levi Strauss was one of wealth, his kind and modest personalitiy remained with him always. The wealth simply provided him the means to show his love for humanity. His life was an example for businessmen throughout America.
Wow! I must admit I never knew that about Levi apart from his patenting of jeans! He seems to be an excellent role model for businessmen globally on how to not let success corrupt you or make you lose touch with your humble origins. Can we consider Bill Gates to be a kind of modern day Levi?
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