Your new collection, Gemini Link, is about the many sides of today’s woman. What’s it like to be Tory Burch the Person and Tory Burch the Brand?
Having to represent the company as an exceedingly private person is hard. Right from the beginning I was very clear that my personal life would be off-limits, although that was not always the case, unfortunately. But there is crossover. I just try to protect my family. That’s advice I give my entrepreneurs: You have to guard what is important to you.
You’re one of the world’s most successful women. Did you ever see your gender as a barrier?
My parents raised me to feel I could do anything as long as I worked hard. It never occurred to me that gender would come into play. It wasn’t until my early days in fashion that I started to realize there are more men than women in the boardroom. I was surprised by that.
What did you struggle with when you were young?
I was shy, so I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. It was not always a given that I would be captain of the tennis team or leading discussions in class. That still holds true. So something I’ve worked on my whole life is how to be a strong leader but on my own terms.
Before you launched your label in 2004, you stepped away from your career to be with your kids.
You have to be honest with yourself. To have three babies just under 4 and to take on a very senior-level job – I knew it would be tough. But family is paramount to me. At this point, I think my boys would prefer me not to be so involved in their lives! They tell me I’m the strictest mom in New York, which is hard to believe.
What values do you hope to instill in your kids?
That you treat all people with respect. I tell my boys I’m going to needlepoint them a belt that says, “Being a gentleman is not a part-time job.” They’ve heard that more times than they can count.
Why did you choose tangerine as your brand’s signature color?
It’s the color I’ve always identified with. It’s so happy. I wanted an orange bedroom as a kid but never got one, which is probably a good thing, because that would have been scary!
You did a whole book dedicated to color.
The book I pitched, no publisher wanted. I wanted to do one on entrepreneurship, and they told me women in business books don’t sell. This was before Sheryl Sandberg.
If you could write that book today, what would the takeaway be?
Believe in yourself. That’s what my mother taught me. When I got upset, she would say, “You’re Tory Robinson! Don’t forget it!”
This article was originally published by InSTYLE, October 2016.