In 2003, Tory Burch was working as a fashion publicist. The following year, she launched a clothing brand that has since turned into a one of America’s greatest fashion lines. Forbes considers the mother of three the 73rd most powerful woman in the world, and when she’s not designing pretty printed tunics or traveling the world sourcing inspiration for her latest collections, Burch is an advocate for the economic empowerment of women. Her namesake nonprofit, The Tory Burch Foundation, supports entrepreneurial women with education, small business loans, and mentorships. Burch recently sat down with The Future of Business and Tech to discuss her role at the foundation and share tips for starting a successful business. Burch has learned a lot since starting her company 12 years ago, and she hopes to use her findings to teach other woman how to become profitable founders. Here is what she had to say.
On the greatest challenges female business owners face: “Starting a business is incredibly difficult, regardless of gender. But women face additional challenges. One of the biggest is securing capital to launch and grow their businesses—women are less likely to have access to resources or be approved for loans. Many also lack the confidence, the networks, and the business training they need to see their ideas through.”
On the most important qualities female entrepreneurs need to be successful: “You have to have a unique idea that meets a need, an idea that you really believe in. Launching a business is a tremendous amount of work—much more than I ever imagined when I was starting out—so you have to be truly passionate about what you’re doing. I always tell our entrepreneurs to embrace ambition—think big. Optimism is a job requirement.”
On her desire to support businesswomen: “It makes no sense to tap only half the population’s innovative ideas and leadership capabilities. Helping women entrepreneurs realize their potential is important not only because it’s right, but because women entrepreneurs create jobs and drive economic growth. When they succeed, their families benefit and their communities and our economy do, too.”