What 13 Years and 200 Retail Store Launches Have Taught Tory Burch About Leadership
Tory Burch, the founder and CEO of the billion-dollar brand of the same name, designed her company around purpose, social responsibility and women's empowerment. In so doing, she created more than just a brand; she created an empire.
Since starting her business in 2004 and scaling it to $2 billion in just under a decade, Burch has provided valuable lessons on what it takes to be a successful leader. En route, her journey hasn't been the smoothest. She's faced many obstacles but has used those obstacles to create opportunities for others in the form of summits, programs and communities.
Although her company grew rather quickly, the success she achieved didn't come without great challenges. Her journey required her to bend her values to downplay her purpose and dreams in order to secure funding. However, the global empire she runs today supports ambitious women entrepreneurs all over the world.
Along the way, Burch has used her wealth to bring her idea of casual high-end attire to life with the help of design experts such as Vince Camuto, and Roger Farah, Ralph Lauren’s former COO and president, to serve as co-CEO.
Here is what the iconic fashion designer has learned along her journey that may help other entrepreneurs along theirs.
Embrace your ambition.
What success means to one entrepreneur is incredibly different to another. Don’t allow the distractions of others to keep you from pursuing your dreams. Be selfish and bold. Change happens when societal norms are deconstructed and a new path is forged. Just because others don’t see eye to eye with you doesn’t mean your goals are not worth pursuing.
Burch has admitted that her greatest struggle, as a private person, was thrusting herself into the public eye, to get her vision in front of the right people. She faced harsh criticism and opinions, but her determination to bring her vision to fruition motivated her to carry on. With no business background or experience, Burch took to the phone cold-calling people from her kitchen table to secure buy-in and eventually grow to thousands of customers.
Amplify your voice.
Use your voice as a platform to spread your message and confront the stereotypes and biases. Don’t let the loudness of others silence your voice. Your voice is the greatest tool you have to promote your message, create an audience and build your platform. Entrepreneurs today are utilizing social media platforms to get their voices heard. So, do the same: Find the avenue that works for your brand and take advantage of every opportunity to overpower the noise and be heard.
Burch has used her voice to build and expand her brand through launching initiatives, campaigns, summits and programs, touching people globally. Her mission is to create a world where people can be their best selves and for women to be comfortable owning their ambition.
Her #EmbraceAmbition interviews speak with successful and powerful women who are determined to make an impact in the world and aren’t afraid to use their voice to do so. Entrepreneurs can use this key piece of advice from this article, "3 Powerful Lessons From Women With Ambition," to amplify Burch's message: “Vocalize your strengths and loudly declare to the world how amazing you are until you start to believe it yourself.”
Remain authentic to your purpose.
Not everyone will support and understand your dreams. Entrepreneurs are more susceptible to criticism and feedback as more people see their brand. The key thing is to remain authentic and passionate in your purpose, ideas and focus and do what feels right for you.
Burch received more criticism than support when she announced she wanted to open a retail store. She was warned against this route and told it was the wrong move for her business if she wanted to be successful. Burch’s dedication to her purpose gave her brand the momentum to surpass over 136 reputable boutique brands worldwide, including the well-respected Marc Jacobs. All of this helped her shape the fashion powerhouse brand she runs today.
After 13 years and more than 200 retail store launches, Burch learned the power of embracing her ambition, using her voice as a platform to empower other women and remaining true to herself. She used her obstacles in starting and scaling her business as an opportunity to help educate other entrepreneurs on how to access capital, resources and education to create their own businesses and brands.