Pursuing Excellence: The Future At Concept 21

Pursuing Excellence: The Future At Concept 21

 “One should have dreams that are almost unattainable.”

This is the mantra I hear in my head often these days, as we settle into Concept 21’s new headquarters, a gorgeous new multi-story building on the PCH in Hermosa Beach.

Throughout the moving process, I’ve been reflecting on the fact that when you are young, you have tons of dreams, but only a small portion of those get realized. The funny thing is that having my company’s home be in a building of this caliber was never actually a dream of mine…just like I had no idea way back then that I was a shoe guy.

I went college for music; after that, I flirted with the idea of getting into law, and then to my surprise, I came into shoes pretty haphazardly in the 70’s having been an early employee at Nike. I began consulting, got married and had kids, and suddenly my life had taken on this new form I’d never imagined.

So, it has sort of taken me by surprise that this building has manifested before my eyes and am excited to see Concept 21 grow into it.

My style used to be to work in cool, funky, unconventional “offices” like homes or random shared working spaces. People who worked with me loved the unusual office spaces. They felt close knit, which I liked – but it wasn’t glamorous by any means. It usually felt more like a workshop than a proper office space.

And so now, seeing my company in this “uber-office” if you will – is fantastic, and we are all having fun getting a feel for it. It’s a designers dream office: It’s like a tree house with a view of the ocean.  When we were scouting sites for this building, location was very important to me, so was having a view, it helps me think larger and unconstrained. As I peer out over Hermosa Beach and out at the vastness of the great Pacific Ocean, I feel invigorated.

What is perhaps most unique about the space is how it seamlessly integrates outdoor with indoor. Sure there are plenty of other glass buildings but few feature wrap around decks or a rooftop garden for people to escape to and decompress after an intense creative meeting.

In asking that internal question, “How did I get here?” I reflect on the fact that we have worked really hard , and I have always been a believer in karma. Trying to always do the right thing gets you somewhere eventually.

I also think that being in this new space forces me and everyone in the building to think big – bigger than we would have. To me, this building is a physical manifestation of Concept 21’s readiness to grow even more, and a true measure of its success so far.

The Chinese have an interesting perspective on space. They believe that you bring the energy with you into a new space; that all things within the space must be representative of what you want the space to provide for you. And the cool thing is that I really feel a great harmony with this new building. My spirit is already IN the space. And now it feels like more than me – it has its own aura.

The move also makes us shift our perspective internally – the team is leveling up now in a new way.  As I told my team, “If you are in rock star space, you have to perform like a one.”

Coincidentally there are lots of shifts going on in the company. We will always be a consulting firm, but now we are taking more of an ownership position and longer-term brand building position. In the consulting sphere, we help others become successful, but now we are positioning ourselves to mutually benefit from this success. This involves launching start-up style endeavors such as a new project with Anta, and nourishing a few small brands as they grow into successful companies.

Imagining into the FUTURE:

The Concept 21 headquarters will be a magnet for talent and energy. It will be (already is) a gathering and meeting place to bring creative energy and collaborators together. I hope to expand and share my wealth of information and creativity as I seek collaborative ventures with designers not just from the footwear industry but from a variety of design and creative backgrounds.

The team is poised to grow exponentially in the next year. The office will fill because of it and we are thrilled to welcome in the new family.

-Brent James
Founder, Concept 21