Rags-to-riches venture has book potential

Posted By Mike Padgett

A book idea is buzzing around in the head of Steven Rosenstein, who with his wife Andi have a courageous David-and-Goliath story to tell.

It’s about starting a new company with next to nothing and turning it into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

The Scottsdale couple, with one sweatshirt and $500 in the bank, launched their Fitigues clothing brand in 1988. They established their Chicago headquarters in a 1910 jukebox factory they saved from demolition. By 1999, in the classic rags-to-riches style, they had revenues of $30 million.

In a clothing industry dominated by hostile Goliaths, the Rosensteins were David.

Steven says their line of clothing became “an amazing cult brand that grew into something far greater than we ever expected.”

The Rosensteins were featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” twice. Reporters from television networks, magazines and newspapers interviewed them.

They sold their Fitigues company in 2007 to a clothing retailer in Florida.

The Rosensteins bought their home in north Scottsdale a few years ago. Discovering that retirement isn’t for them, and hungry for a new adventure, they scouted the warehouse district just south of downtown Phoenix. They bought one of the red brick structures in 2007.

The 40-something couple’s ideas for their 1928 Anchor Manufacturing Building include a workout center. Another is renting the space for special events.

“The Phoenix warehouse district is a hidden treasure,” Steven says. “There’s a grittiness to it that reminds us of the city we left behind.”

The Rosensteins’ story – from the start of their clothing company to the purchase of an aging Phoenix warehouse – has the makings of a fascinating how-to book. It should catch the attention of budding as well as veteran entrepreneurs. It could have chapters on how to design new lines of clothing, different sources of financing, challenging personnel issues, funny workplace stories, and how to create corporate offices in a building rescued from the wrecking ball. There could be a chapter on how to muster up the courage to launch a new enterprise, especially when all they had was $500 and a strong belief in themselves.

Steven’s newest dream is writing a book about his and his wife’s business adventure. He says he has been urged by many “to sit down and chronicle this great love story.”

It sounds like the Rosensteins have a cheering section. And in a business arena dominated by giants, the underdogs – especially those who win – receive the loudest applause.

Jul 24th, 2008

One Comment to 'Rags-to-riches venture has book potential'

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  1. Christen Black said,

    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. I am a huge fan of Fitigues and of the founders. Brands like theirs & what it stood for (quality time with family, being comfortable while stylish and their warm store environment) are tough to find these days. Sounds like the big guys didn’t get the best of them and that’s a story we can all relate to.

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