With many small businesses struggling in the wake of the nation’s recent recession, two University of Michigan alumni, now successful entrepreneurs, were interviewed on CNN on their strategies for prospering amidst economic instability.
Fraternal twins Shane and Shawn Ward graduated from UM in 1996, Shane with a degree in Industrial Design from the School of Art and Design and Shawn with a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. In 2003, they left their work designing athletic shoes to co-found SHANE&SHAWN, a line of men and women’s fashion shoes with an emphasis on comfort.
In the interview, Shane and Shawn shared how closing their retail shops and focusing on online sales helped keep them afloat during the recession. They also discuss changing their business model by outsourcing operations and shipping while focusing on their strengths, design and marketing.
According to Shawn, the key to surviving an economic downturn is “being nimble and being able to adjust to the times.”
“The recession was almost a blessing,” he said. “We came out smarter, leaner and stronger.” The CNN interview aired while the twins were in Atlanta for the 2010 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, held this past May.