Fashion designer and CEO Tory Burch runs a company with $700 million in annual sales and stores across the world, and that's exactly what she set out to do when she started. Along the way, she always had something eating away at every one of her accomplishments, just because she's a woman.
Burch talked about her journey to the top of the entrepreneurial heap at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored event in New York City.
"There's always a stigma attached to the word 'ambition' and women," she said. "I've embraced it. Ambition is not a four-letter word and women have to embrace that."
From the beginning, Burch set out to make something big. She wanted to make it a global company right from the start, because frankly, she didn't know any better. It's that vision that has helped propel her and her company to its current status.
The Tory Burch brand is built around a concept of "accessible luxury." Burch wanted to fill a gap that she was personally missing, and she thought it would be interesting for it to be a retail concept. She decided to launch with a five-year plan of three stores and use direct sourcing instead of agents.
Her parents did her a service, she said. They told her to brace herself because there would be waves of negativity raining down on her. But in the end, it's about letting the company speak for itself.
"I think everyone thought it was going to be a flash in the pan," Burch said. Her father told her to think of it as just a bunch of noise.
Getting Input and Slowing Down
She values business mentors as well, and has them all around the business world. Burch stressed the importance of getting the opinions of others for your business, even if they don't know the specifics of how it's run. A lot of that outside knowledge will be applicable, because every business has some similarities.
Burch credits much of her success to having patience. The company's executives make every decision based on five-year plans, and they always wait until the right opportunity presents itself before jumping in.
"It's a very fast-paced at our company, and sometimes we want to slow it down," she said. "I think we could be a lot bigger if we wanted it. We restrain our growth in a lot of ways."
At the end of her talk, Burch had some words of advice for women entrepreneurs looking to make a difference.
"Know your self worth," she said. "I don't think I knew how much hard work I was getting myself into, but it's about tenacity."
Photo credit: Courtesy Tory Burch