Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic
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Wild Company: The Untold Story of Banana Republic

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  18 reviews
With $1,500 and no business experience, Mel and Patricia Ziegler turned a wild idea into a company that would become the international retail colossus Banana Republic. Re-imagining military surplus as safari and expedition wear, the former journalist and artist created a world that captured the zeitgeist for a generation and spoke to the creativity, adventure, and independ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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Dec 08, 2012 Catherine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Catherine by: JJ Casas
The writing is highly influenced by Mel's background as a journalist, so the novel reads as easily as a news article with the magical quality of adventurous travel. Mel and Patricia play off each other's tales playfully and excitedly like a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, and as the reader I feel like a child listening to a bedtime story. They repeatedly remind us that monetizing your idea is not the goal but the means to the true dream: having the financial freedom to do what you love. It i...more
JJ Casas
The book has an amazing start as you're introduced to Banana Republic's founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler and their desire to break free from their schedules and gain freedom. The book is presented in two narratives that are set apart by different typefaces and their own graphic preceding their narrative: Mel's typewrtier and Patricia's paintbrush. This format made it as if I was sitting down listening to them as they took turns telling the story and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I appreciated their tel...more
Chris Bull
I am a fan of army surplus and khaki and having been wearing the same since the 1960s. When Banana Republic first made its headway with their catalogue I was right there. I had the opportunity to visit one of their stores (in D.C.).
After its purchase and re-invention by Gap, I couldn't believe it was the same store and even asked the sales assistants (they only new the present situation). A complete travesty to what the Republic was founded on.
I am thankful for Ziegler in writing this book (a qu...more
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would, and I'm not even a Banana Republic shopper (nothing against them, I'm just not much of a clothes shopper, period). The story of the founding and growth of Banana Republic is fascinating, and I appreciated that the husband & wife founders tossed the story line back and forth between them throughout. While there are "business lessons" to be gleaned here, this is NOT (thank heaven) a "business-y" book. It's an interesting, accessible story o...more
Wow. Amazing how well crafted the voice of Mel Ziegler is in this compelling start-up story of living the American dream. Patricia, Mel's wife and partner's voice is much less powerful and present.

This folks managed to create an empire and eventually get kicked out, only to start again, and then again.

The amazing thing, though, for me, is how unaware they seem to be, still, about how they appropriated the intellectual property of culture's and peoples across the planet without thought of compens...more
I enjoyed this book so much...such an inspiring story of two people who lived their dream. A must read for entrepreneurs, travel addicts and anyone looking for a little inspiration in life!
A first-person account of the founding of Banana Republic. An interesting read about two people who took the last of their money from working the newspaper beat and started a fashion-forward surplus store. The Ziegler's outline the success of Banana Republic as a mix of hard work, fearlessness and luck. The only thing that bothered me was the decision to use two fonts to separate the two voices (both Mel and Patricia tell their stories, and the book flips between the two by using a break and cha...more
Fascinating story, easily read in a few hours, couldnt stop
Wild Company was an interesting book at the beginning and then got a little lost in the weeds as the authors not only went too far into fashion (losing the interest of business/start-up readers), but then also became too critical of the sale of the company of GAP. Could have been two books - one focused on the fashion trend and one simply about the start-up business. It definitely lost me towards the end.
Wild Company captures the magic of the early years of Banana Republic. I briefly consulted for the wild company in its time of heady growth, and this book will make you feel you are there too. Which is wonderful, because rarely does a business combine the fun, creativity, and ideals of the Zieglers' Banana Republic. A quick, fun read that will leave you inspired.
James Hetzel
Mel is a good writer with a very unique voice. I found it to be a unique book about two "accidental entrepreneurs". My reason for only giving it 3 stars is probably more reflective of me than the authors. I am a bit intolerant of '60's era writers who sound like they never left the '60's. Overall, a good quick, easy read.
I'm a little disappointed that I never got to see what one of my favorite stores was like before the founders left the company. (And it's only one of my favorite stores because they're one of the few stores that carry petite sizes). Nevertheless, this was an interesting and inspirational read.
A dramatic story of what can be done with a lot of vision and little money. The roller coaster ride of the early days of the Banana Republic makes for great reading with a touch of inspiration for those who are looking to create their own destiny.
Fascinating couldn't-put-it-down history of Banana Republic as told by each of the founders. Great read both for the story of the clothing line as well as a history of this era in San Francisco and Mill Valley.
Stanley Turner
Very interesting book, I did not want to put it down. Interesting how they just more or less fell into their business. They wanted to supplement their freelance income and built an empire...
Austin Storm
Engaging and beautiful book about a very unique company. Just a little bit of cautionary tale thrown in. Nothing I can think of quite like it.
Brian Goldstein
now we know where they went but glad did my buying whilst they were still up & runnin!

Big O
Entertaining, quick and conversational retelling of the founding of BANANA REPUBLIC.
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