Interview: Tory Burch Shares Her Recipe For Success

BY Milli Midwood / Dec 16 2019 / 13:01 PM

Get insider career tips from one of America’s richest self-made women

Interview: Tory Burch Shares Her Recipe For Success

Any storied brand hoping to navigate the future has to find its own way to innovate and inspire. And so it is with Tory Burch, the power label known for its haute-hippie garb and decidedly bohemian, carefree sensibility, which this year celebrates its 15th anniversary. And celebrations really are in order – the company has an estimated worth of $1.5 billion (Dhs5.5 billion).

Tory Burch A/W19

Yes, the Tory Burch name dominates the fashion industry – did we mention she was also named one of America’s richest self-made women this year by Forbes? – but the brand’s multifaceted founder, executive chairman and chief creative officer of her namesake label also juggles a family of four at home and takes a humanitarian approach to running a business. Namely, The Tory Burch Foundation’s Embrace Ambition initiative; a five-city project that focuses on addressing unconscious bias, shattering stereotypes and empowering female entrepreneurs.

Whilst in town to fête the launch of her exclusive kaftan capsule collection, BAZAAR sat down with the icon herself, who spoke passionately about her uncompromising mission to give women around across the globe a leg-up in the working world.

On what ambition means to her…

“Ambition to me isn’t necessarily just about being in business, it’s about how you live your life. You can be a stay-athome mum and be ambitious. For me, it’s freedom in the way you see things turning out in your life, embracing that and being confident enough to go for it.”

On how to carry on when you just feel like giving up…

“Just keep thinking about your game plan and end goal. I always had a dream that I wanted to build a global lifestyle brand because I wanted to start a foundation for women. It took me 10 years to be able to send that email to my team, which I sent five months ago, that said we have achieved impact on a global scale.”

On the gender gap in fashion…

“Back in 2005, I was interviewed by a journalist who wrote that I shied away from the word ‘ambition.’ When I read it, it struck me: why is it ok for men to be celebrated for being ambitious, but it’s deemed negative in women? So, that’s something I wanted to change; it’s such harmful stereotype. One of the great parts of our foundation, Embrace Ambition, which supports female entrepreneurs, is that we have men also involved. They’re part of the conversation around women’s issues. I think if we are women talking to women about women’s issues, we won’t get very far. We need equal rights.”

On overcoming imposter syndrome…

“I was laughed at when I went to raise money for this company and said I wanted to build a global lifestyle brand so that I could build a foundation. I was told very concretely to never say that in the same sentence. People laughed at me – it was mostly men – which gave me even more purpose to do it. Fashion is an incredible business. When people think of it as a frivolous one they’re absolutely wrong. It is the second-largest industry behind finance in New York. We have given jobs to 5,000 employees.”

On people who inspire her…

“I’m a big believer in mentors. I started with my family, but outside of that, I’ve had many in and outside of the industry. I think it’s very important. I’m also very inspired by Christine Lagarde and Queen Rania. She is a real woman of substance and style.”

On the best lesson she’s ever learned…

“That patience and positivity are the best traits you can have, and that negativity is just noise.”

On advice to other women…

Believe in yourself. I think women often have a real confidence issue, including myself. I’ve been there and still to this day it’s part of a dialogue I have with other women all the time. Women are natural collaborators and they get a lot done.”

From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia's December 2019 issue

Images: Courtesy of Tory Burch