Tory Burch is more than just a fashion icon and entrepreneur: The designer wants to break down the stereotypes around women in the workplace. In the latest "Influencer Interview" on LinkedIn, Burch talks about the negative connotation around the word “ambitious,” how equal pay “should be a given,” and why you should make the people you work with like “a second family.”
Read on for the interview’s highlights to get the fashion mogul’s thoughts on everything from corporate culture to technology and why her brand is still resonating across the globe.
On women taking ownership of their ambitions (and salaries!)
There's a negative connotation to ambitious women, and I think that we should be able to be proud of being ambitious and not shy away from that, if that … is what you want to do. It's a personal journey and people just have to decide that for themselves. That said, I think equal pay, equal opportunity should not be a favor, I think it should be a given.
On the essentials for corporate culture
I've worked in many companies and I think that number one if you are going to have a great environment, you produce great work … If people are happy that's what's important, life is short. We spend a lot of time with people in our offices, it's a second family for me. I think it was essential to find an environment that also supported women and also supported just having high integrity, straight-forward, honesty, real core values of what I believe in.
On perceptions of women and ambition in the workforce
I think [women] should be ambitious if they want to be ambitious in the workforce. I know a lot of women who are stay at home moms and that's fine too, but I think if you look at being ambitious as not only about work, about life, and … going through things and not shying away because of … being perceived as being ambitious, that would be a great thing.
On the unlimited possibilities of technology
There's so many ways of making product design easier, more efficient, quicker. People are now taking DNA from cows and growing leather. The implications of that, in what it has from a grain standpoint are enormous. But also you might be able to grow a sneaker without seams … It's … mind-boggling what it could mean from a product stand-point but also an efficiency stand-point.
On being ahead of the technology curve
We launched e-commerce 11-and-a-half years ago, and people thought no one would be shopping online … that I was a bit crazy to launch that in our industry, and now it's twenty percent or maybe a little bit more of our business, and growing.
On keeping up with the modern consumer
The customer's changing, she is coming into the store with her mobile and knowing what she wants–where before she would come into the store and browse and try on many different things … She's buying less and she has more options … You have to be savvy and sharp and also straight-forward with your customer. I think that authenticity is really important.
On the impact of technology on the fashion industry
Our industry is going through an inflection point at the moment, it's a different time … One of my goals is to make our company a technology company … I hired our first Chief Technology Officer, who starts in September, and that's very exciting for us … There's many challenges happening whether it's macro, which you can't help, or it's micro. I think one of the great things about a tough environment, it gives us the opportunity to take a breath, and right now we’re turning over every rock and really looking at every detail of the company to look at what can be improved upon.
On what makes Tory Burch universal
It's really ageless … That's something that I really love about our company … I think women take our products, they wear them differently, they look at them differently, but we are rooted in classic American sportswear. That's the reason why we are resonating in different countries because women in different countries are so inspiring.