Peter Kim was adamant that he not get up one morning in his 40s or 50s with regrets about the career path he had chosen.
“You have people who have done everything right,” says Kim, founder and CEO of Hudson Jeans. “They’ve gone to good schools and made their money and they have a family. But they wake up and they’re like, ‘I hate my life. I hate my job. I hate everything about this.’ And it’s like, ‘No wonder. You’ve been living somebody else’s life all these years.’”
It was a path Kim could have easily followed.
The expectation from his family was that he would become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer, but that just didn’t fit what Kim wanted to do with his life. And he saw no reason to try to force it to work.
“I’ve had this rebellious attitude and perspective for as long as I can remember,” Kim says. “When I was a young kid, everything was why, why, why. And people would say, ‘He’s a problem child.’ My thought was I’m not. I’m trying to be good. It’s just that a lot of stuff doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not sure why people follow things that don’t make sense.”
Kim chose to march to the beat of his own drum and it led to plenty of challenges. As a child, it created the image of a rebellious child who just wanted to be difficult. As a young adult, Kim’s personality drove him to take every idea that popped into his head and try to make it work.
“I would take on 10 projects at a time,” Kim says. “They were all great ideas, but I couldn’t execute on all of them. I would get overwhelmed and in the end, not one of them would work out. So yeah, I’m constantly battling. I want to do 10 things, but I’ve got to make sure that I focus in on two or three of them that I know I’m going to do really well.”
One of those areas of focus is Hudson Jeans. Kim founded the 140-employee company in 2002 and helped it become the global leader in premium denim.
In 2013, Joe’s Jeans Inc. acquired the business for $65.4 million in cash and $27.5 million in convertible notes. Hudson became a wholly owned subsidiary of Joe’s Jeans and new doors of opportunity quickly sprang open as a result.
“If you can get this passion and this dream and put your all into it and figure out how to make a living off of that, that’s where you’ll truly be happy,” Kim says. “And that’s where I’ve come.”