January 27, 2021

How the Founder of Chinese Laundry Built an Unstoppable Shoe Brand and Embraced Change

Bob Goldman has weathered any number of market upheavals in his long career. Actually, he knows exactly how many.
The founder and CEO of Cels Enterprises (parent company to Chinese Laundry and its sister brands) estimates that the fashion industry undergoes a sea change every seven years, so his 40-plus-year-old footwear firm has been through about six major shifts.
But always, Goldman has faced them with an unflappable calm — and even a sense of excitement. “The reality is, change doesn’t faze me,” said Goldman. “The saying in the company is, ‘I don’t get angina. I give angina.’” (And yes, members of his team heartily confirmed that statement.)
During a recent visit to the company headquarters in Culver City, Calif., Goldman’s guru nature was on full display. At 75 years old, the soft-spoken shoe veteran exudes a relaxed confidence as he walks the halls, greeting employees and quizzing team members about their latest retail meetings.
He has recently begun transitioning some executive duties to his son, Stewart, Cels’ COO, but remains intimately involved in every detail of the organization.
“When my father and I meet, I’ll update him on what’s going on, and he listens and will give me some really good advice,” explained Stewart.

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