10 Things You Didn’t Know About Gary Friedman

Unveiling the intriguing character and life journey of Gary Friedman, Restoration Hardware’s Chairman and CEO – a visionary in the luxury furnishings industry.

Gary Friedman, the notable force behind the upscale furniture store, Restoration Hardware, has carved a significant niche for himself in the business world. Today, his name is synonymous with upscale luxury and contemporary design, but there’s much more to this business behemoth that many people are unaware of. Let’s peel back the layers and explore ten lesser-known facts about the illustrious Gary Friedman.

1. Humble Beginnings

Born in San Francisco, California, Gary Friedman grew up in an impoverished, low-income neighborhood. His mother worked two jobs to make ends meet and his father was absent from much of his life. Despite these challenging circumstances, Friedman has often been quoted saying his childhood made him more appreciative of life’s finer things.

While many affluent business people are born into wealth, Friedman’s story is a remarkable rags-to-riches one. He started his journey by working at Gap where he climbed the corporate ladder from stock boy to store manager, and eventually to the position of SVP of Marketing and Merchandising. Lessons from his childhood, coupled with his eagerness to rise above his circumstances, made him hypersensitive to customers’ desires and expectations.

2. No College Degree

One of the most surprising things about the acclaimed CEO of Restoration Hardware is his lack of a formal education. Friedman does not possess a high school diploma or a college degree, making his achievements all the more remarkable. Instead, he attributes his success to on the ground learning and real-life experiences, which has shaped his innovative approach to marketing and merchandising.

Friedman believes that his unconventional route to success has afforded him a unique perspective, allowing him to think outside the box, push the envelope, and continually reinvent his brand.

3. He Was Fired From Restoration Hardware, Twice

Friedman’s tenure at Restoration Hardware hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In fact, he has been fired from the company twice, only to be reinstated on both occasions due to his indisputable genius and influence in the company.

His first termination came in 2012 due to a personal relationship with a female subordinate. Despite this setback, he made a triumphant return as co-CEO in 2013. Then in 2016, Friedman was again terminated over the controversy of the 2014 RH Contemporary Art initiative, only to return once again as co-CEO in 2017. Not only has these incidents shown us Friedman’s tenacity, but his ability to bounce back stronger than before.

4. The Reimagining of Restoration Hardware

When Friedman joined Restoration Hardware in 2001, he took a struggling brand on the brink of bankruptcy and turned it into an upscale powerhouse. Using his marketing instincts and the lessons he learned at Gap, he transformed the brand into a luxury home furnishing company and rebranded it as RH.

Previous iterations of the company focused on nostalgia, while Friedman’s strategy has been more focused on luxury style and design. His focus on customer experience has been a key driving force in the reimagining of the brand.

5. Philanthropy

In addition to his work with RH, Friedman is also heavily involved in philanthropy. He is a supporter of several non-profit organizations, including the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation, which assists children with the rare and painful skin disorder.

Also, through The Gary Friedman Program for Visual Arts, Friedman provides grants for artists to further their careers. The program aims to expand the reach of emerging artists and promote their work within the art community.

6. His Home Is A Reflection Of His Work

Friedman’s personal residence in San Francisco, a seven-story, 10,000-square-foot historic property is a true reflection of his work and brand. Echoing the aesthetic of his Restoration Hardware galleries, his home is filled with plush, oversized sofas, dramatic chandeliers, and a sophisticated blend of modern and antiquated elements.

7. He Originally Wanted To Be An Athlete

As a child, Friedman wanted to be a professional athlete. It was only after a knee injury in junior high school that he decided to focus on a different path. His desire to compete and win, however, never faded, and today he channels this competitive spirit into his career and business ventures.

8. He Authored A Book

In 2012, Friedman co-authored a book titled, ‘The RH Factor,’ with Jim Stengel, former global marketer for Procter & Gamble. The book delves into why connecting with customers on a deeper level is crucial for a brand’s success.

9. Friedman’s ‘Inspiration Spaces’

At home and work, Friedman has ‘Inspiration Spaces’ – private spaces with a view of water filled with artworks, books, and design drafts where he can think, dream, and drive his next big idea.

10. He Is A Perfectionist

Friedman is a die-hard perfectionist. This is evident in every aspect of his business – from the perfection of furniture lines to the painstaking design of every RH store.

Interested in Learning More About Gary Friedman?

Let’s dive deeper into the story of Gary Friedman. Visit his personal website here or read his notable interview with Forbes here. Also, you can download his book here.