From the June 2004 issue of Entrepreneur

The Whole Truth

A very inspiring write-up about Don Chang and Jin Sook Chang, the founders of Forever 21, in your latest issue ("Almost Famous," March).

While looking on the Web to read more about Forever 21, I was disappointed to find this on www.sweatshopwatch.org/swatch/f21.html: "'We worked 10 to 12 hours [per] day for sub-minimum wage and no overtime,' says Esperanza Hernandez, one of the garment workers. 'A lot of our factories were dirty and unsafe, with rats and cockroaches running around.'"

The couple sure got lucky to get such a great write-up for themselves! I presume Entrepreneur had no clue about this style of entrepreneurship around Forever 21?

Syed Hasnain
Via e-mail

Response from Larry Meyer, CFO of Forever 21 Inc.: "We are a retail operation, and we pay every person who works for us consistent with the law. We think we are very good to our people and provide free lunches and health benefits. With respect to these [allegations], these people never worked for us. [They were] contracted and subcontracted manufacturing workers, and we were unaware of the fact that they didn't have the appropriate [provisions].

We do not deal directly with their employers or former employers. But to this extent, if we find out [there is] a problem, we cut [the employers] off."

Immigrant Dreams

I am writing in response to a letter published titled "Foreign Policy" ("Feedback," March). A few points I would like to make to the author of that letter:

1. I bet the author is most likely a third-, fourth- or fifth-generation American, which means he/she is not aware of what his/her grandparents and/or great-grandparents went through to make it to the Ameri-can Dream. The author is basing an opinion on his/her current standard of living and forgetting that he/she is reaping the hard work, sacrifice and not-so-desirable living conditions of previous generations.

2. The immigration policy for H-1B visas is a poor and unjust one. If this country had such a policy over 200 years ago, we would still be herding buffaloes across our mainland. How are immigrants supposed to maintain their standard of living if they are faced with a 60-day drop-dead date [for] finding a job? How would the author feel if the government instituted such a policy on [him or her]?

3. Do I need to educate the author on Economics 101? Do I need to go over how immigrants have built this country and how the constant demand of such immigrants is making the author's house value go up and up, and how he/she can refinance at a lower rate and use the disposable income to improve his/her standard of living?

This is just one example of what makes the dollar go around . . .

Name Withheld
Via e-mail

Report From Japan

I must say that your magazine is my entrepreneurial bible! I have read it for as long as I can remember. Your articles and stories have made and saved me more time and money than any other business (education) source I've invested in. Keep up the great work!

I was pleased to read your story "The Sun Also Rises" in the March issue ("Smarts"). I am a firm believer that the Japanese economy is recovering. Even though the Japanese are known to be risk averse by nature, there is a growing trend toward the acceptance of entrepreneurial endeavors. When you consider the fact that 99 percent of the Japanese economy is fueled by small businesses, and only recently were people encouraged to start their own ventures, Japan will definitely have the fuel to feed a sustained economic recovery.

As a foreign entrepreneur in Japan, I can't tell you it's been easy, but then again, what entrepreneur likes anything easy? What I can tell you is that there are boundless opportunities for businesses wanting to export goods into Japan or perhaps even set up branch offices. If you have been considering entering the Japanese market, now is the perfect time to do it.

Dave Mori
President
Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo
Tokyo

Corrections: In "Taxing Poetic" ("Money Buzz," April) Entrepreneur reported that businesses typically overpay their taxes by $80,000 to $100,000 over a three-year period, according to Tax Recovery Group COO Darren Oliver. The actual figure cited by Oliver was between $8,000 and $10,000.

In "Sowing the Seeds" ("Biz 101," May), the ExtremeDrive Adventures team was from the University of Colorado.