"There was a lot of skepticism when I decided to start the company; I wasn't a designer and didn't have a retail background. People also questioned the wisdom of creating a business with a Foundation and social responsibility in mind. My parents gave me great advice, which was to think of negativity as noise, and believe in yourself. I took that advice to heart." -Tory Burch
I don't know what's more impressive. The fact that Tory Burch, who opened her first NYC boutique in February 2004, now has 73 TB stores and distribution at 1,000 retailers worldwide, or the fact that she did it all without a traditional fashion design and retail background. My interview with the CEO and designer of the world's fastest growing luxury brand is a refreshing reminder that as female entrepreneurs and starters, we all face similar challenges and doubts.
Inspired by her love of art, music, culture and travel, Tory has a unique sense of style that has become her signature. Between overseeing her brand in over 1,000 locations worldwide, raising her three sons and running the Tory Burch Foundation, which supports the economic empowerment of women and their families, Tory shared with me her tips for building brands, pursuing your passion and cultivating confidence.
1. "The only constant in life is change. I've had to learn how to be flexible enough to deal with that."
Isn't this so true? We're always trying to control e-v-e-r-y-thing that happens, when in fact, it's impossible! We should put in our best effort, of course; but remember that the universe does its work too, and we should allow ourselves to just "receive and be" sometimes. Don't be discouraged if things don't go the way you expect. Let go of the doubts, "what-ifs" and micromanaging and immerse yourself in the bigger picture. If you can move past the little hiccups and let your vision evolve, challenges can lead to a good kind of change. That flexibility, as Tory says, will get us much farther.
2. A great brand is "one with a unique point of view and provides an answer.
Listen to the goddess of brilliant branding! Whether you work for someone or have your own business, does your brand have a distinct point of view or strong opinion? And if so, what are they doing about it and how is that knowledge being communicated in your brand experience? If you don't know what message your brand is sending or how to send the message you want to, take a step back and evaluate your mission. This foundation will be vital to how you grow your business and brand loyalty.
3. "Think of negativity as noise and believe in yourself."
I always say when you have an idea to start something, expect many people to not be supportive. When I decided to launch a media company as my personal name, I can't tell you the number of odd looks I got and still do. But because I was SO opinionated about media's under-representation of women leaders and the lack of mainstream resources and voices convening women in a more meaningful way, I decided to believe in myself and do something about it. There will always be moments when we're tempted to forfeit our passion because someone doubts our dream, but as Tory reminds us, you have the power to tune it out! BTW, if you're starting something innovative, chances are it hasn't been done before, and if it hasn't, most people will be skeptics anyway.
4. "You have to be happy and passionate about what you do."
I ditto that. As pleasers, women have a bad habit of putting everyone else's desires first. Invest time in your aspirations... even if it's just time figuring out what they are if you don't currently know. If you're worried that you can't both follow your passion and be successful, ask yourself whose definition of success you're trying to live up to. Success that ignores your passion won't equal happiness. A passionate and fulfilled woman with a sense of purpose makes a better mother, wife, boss, employee, volunteer, friend etc., so carve out the time to make progress on the things that make you happy.
Click here to enjoy my full interview with Tory Burch and countless inspiring stories.