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Tory Burch’s seven secrets for success

Tory Burch’s seven secrets for success

Billionaire fashion designer Tory Burch reveals her business lessons for budding entrepreneurs at an event in London

BY KATE BUSSMANN | 28 NOVEMBER 2013

Burch was speaking at Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design to Imran Amed, founder of Business of Fashion.

Don’t be a snob 
When the Amed mentioned that her typical customer has been described as a “soccer mom”, rather than being insulted, Burch didn’t flinch. “I’m a soccer mom – well, a lacrosse mom,” she said. “The brand always had a diverse customer base – all different kinds of women were wearing it. They make it their own.”Tear up the rule book 

Until this month, Burch has never advertised, and only done four fashion shows since her launch in 2004. And while for most fashion brands, opening a shop is the culmination of years of hard work, Burch opened her first store on day one. “I was warned against it, over and over again,” she said. But her concept wasn’t just about clothes, it was a lifestyle brand. “Creating a warm, welcoming environment with couches for husbands and children was a way to show who we were immediately.” And it worked: 75 per cent of her stock sold out that first day. Even if, as she jokes, “I had a lot of friends there and I made them buy something!”

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel 
Her two biggest hits – a tunic and the million-selling Reva ballerina flats

– have been in her collection from day one, with variations in different colours and materials. But neither was a groundbreaking idea in itself. Ballerina flats were (and still are) everywhere, while the tunic was based on a vintage piece. “We reinterpreted it in vintage linen and antique diamonds,” she says. ” Prince wore it , then Mariah Carey – it was a crazy thing.”

Be prepared to adapt 
That attitude, that the customer comes first, extends to how they operate in the 55 countries where they now have stores, tailoring their products to what people want. “In Brazil, the bikinis are a lot smaller than in the US,” she laughed. “In Asia, we have more midheels. And in the Middle East, we have a lot more long dresses.”

Establish boundaries – and stick to them 
Burch takes her three sons to school each morning and gets home by 6.30pm most evenings. “Regardless of what’s happening in your office, you have to make those boundaries, and when you’re home with them, you have to be a mom. I would never be able to be a good CEO or designer if I wasn’t a great mom. It’s definitely very hard, but it’s doable.”

Don’t be your own worst enemy 
Through the Tory Burch Foundation , a microfinance organisation for female entrepreneurs, Burch has met many young women who she says “are their own challenge. That’s something we talk about a lot with our entrepreneurs, having the belief in yourself that you can accomplish this.”

Grow a thicker skin 
“When I first started, there was a lot of negativity,” she admitted. “One thing my parents said is that you have to thicken your skin and think of it as noise. You have to believe in what you’re doing, and follow your path.

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About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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