Like a billionaire boss mom - a look at Tory Burch

Lessons from Tory Burch’s success can be looked to for any momprenuer running her own business.
Lessons from Tory Burch’s success can be looked to for any momprenuer running her own business.

As Anna Wintour (the editor of Vogue magazine) opined in the forward to the book Tory Burch: In Color, “Who wouldn’t want to be Tory Burch?” In addition to being a devoted mom to three sons and three stepdaughters from her second marriage, Tory Burch is a successful fashion designer, business woman and philanthropist.

In 2013, Forbes magazine reported that she was the second youngest self-made woman billionaire in America (with Forbes’ April 2015 estimate of Burch’s net worth to be $1.06 billion). What lessons can today’s Charlotte mom take by walking a mile in Burch’s Reva ballet flats?

You’re Never Too Old to be the Next Up-and-Comer

Burch opened her first small boutique in Manhattan at the age of 37, after taking time off from her fashion public relations and marketing career to stay at home with her three young sons. She launched her company, which was planned in her kitchen amidst the chaos of children in the house, with no design school training or experience running a business. Although opening a single boutique may have seemed small to some, Burch said in a Charlie Rose interview that she had, “big hopes and aspirations…I said I wanted to start a global lifestyle brand. I had no idea what that meant.”

Ambition is not a Four Letter Word

“I think women should be just as ambitious as men and be proud of it,” says Tory Burch in a 2015 Stanford Business Graduate School video. Burch wrote the 2013 article “Why the world needs women entrepreneurs” in which she states, “research shows women doubt their capabilities and fear failure more than men. Training can equip women with the confidence to see bold ideas through.”

You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers to Get Started

Tory Burch knew that she wanted to start a socially responsible company which helped people, but she had no idea of who she wanted to help or how she would help them. Her admission is as instructive as it is honest. In 2009, Burch launched the nonprofit Tory Burch foundation to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs in the United States. Although legally structured as a charity, the foundation aims to empower women by making affordable micro loans (money which is paid back rather than donated), mentorship and entrepreneurial education.

If You Want to Raise a Tory Burch, Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Dialogue about Money

While the beneficiary of a privileged upbringing, not even Tory Burch was born with the skills to start a billion dollar business. Unlike musical prodigies or athletes born with physical advantages due to size or height, financial acumen is a learned, not innate, ability. It’s probably not a huge leap to assume that Burch was exposed to financial concepts early in life by her beloved father, Ira Earl “Bud” Robinson. “Bud” Robinson was an investor who inherited a seat on the New York Stock Exchange as well as a paper cup company. In 1996, Burch married venture capitalist J. Christopher Burch who had previously run a family-owned sweater business. During this marriage, Burch launched her company.

Have a Patient Plan and Priorities

“I have never regretted saying no to something…we are a very patient company and we want to always look to the long-term,” says Burch in the Stanford video interview. When first envisioning her company, Burch created a plan to expand into different categories (such as ready-to-wear, shoes, and handbags). Some categories remain unexplored, while other markets are just now being explored. By consistently focusing on core areas with high impact, the Tory Burch company has been able to patiently execute Burch’s original vision as the right opportunities and timing are presented.

While it may be intriguing to daydream about leading Tory Burch’s glamorous lifestyle, it is perhaps more interesting to think about the possibility that by following Burch’s lead of dreaming big, being ambitious and planning with patience we can have more glamorous and successful lives for ourselves.

Want to read more about Tory Burch? Read the 2014 Fast Company articles used as sources for this piece: “Tory Burch’s Personal Touch” and “How Did Tory Burch Build a $1 Billion Brand So Quickly? Patience.”