Tory Burch became a billionaire some time back. In a world where self-made billionaires are rare and self-made female billionaires are ever rarer, what did she do and how did she do it?
The Tory Story…
Tory was brought up with her three brothers and says,‘I see myself as a tomboy who grew up on a Pennsylvania farm.’ How did she go from Tomboy to Fashion Queen? Tory’s father, who had a paper cup factory, made his own clothes, and this inspired Tory to go into fashion.
Step 1 – GET CONNECTED
“I had never been to business school, I had never been to design school” – With no qualification to run a business, design, or a design business, Tory started with just her passion for fashion, connecting to the world through a job working at Harper’s Bazaar. While getting connected, she started her fashion line on the kitchen table. By 2004, she had enough momentum to launch her first store.
Step 2 – KEEP YOUR HANDS FULL
Tory has six children. She decided being a mother was the best training for business “If I wasn’t a good mother, then I wouldn’t be good at this. There’s a lot of planning, time management and work.” The work paid off, and within a year she got a lucky break when Oprah featured her on her show.
Step 3 – STEP INTO DANCING SHOES
Everything changed in 2006, when Tory designed the ‘Reva’ ballet shoes for women to wear casually. Named after her mum, the shoes became a hit, and over the next 6 years her fashion business has grown to 69 stores and her lines are stocked in over 1,000 stores. Even with this growth, Tory saw her business as an extension of herself, saying “My company is an extension of me, so when I designed my stores I wanted people to feel that they were in my home.”
Step 4 – WEAR THE PANTS
Many think women have a challenging time moving up in business. Tory’s staff is 95% women, but she knows how to get tough when she needs to. When she divorced her husband, Chris Burch in 2006, he first claimed to be the brains behind her business, then set up a competing company, then sued her for making things difficult with suppliers and partners.
Tory counter-sued him for copying her designs and ultimately he finally backed down, selling his shares in her business and burying the hatchet.
The end result? Tory danced her way to a billion dollar business. Alone.
Tory’s story is so beautiful because it’s so elegantly simple – Bring it all together. As she says, “I think you can have it all. You just have to know it’s going to work.”
That’s Tory’s Story: Know it. Bring it.
If she can do it, you can do it.
Just don’t forget the dancing shoes… and the pants.