Posted at 2:00 PM
With a father who designed his own clothes and a mother who was an actress, fashion was always in Tory Burch’s DNA.
Having worked for world renowned fashion designers including Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang, Burch left her successful career in public relations to raise her three young children. At age 37, she started the Tory Burch company at the kitchen table in her Manhattan apartment. Her vision: to create designs that are both classic and affordable.
From one single storefront on 257 Elizabeth Street, Burch has grown her namesake brand into a fashion empire in less than 10 years. Her company, valued at more than $3.5 billion, now has more than 140 stores in 50 countries and over 2,000 employees. The collection includes ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, home, fragrance and beauty.
Bloomberg Businessweek describes her as “a shrewd designer and businesswoman”, and the Telegraph describes her as “serene, approachable, wholesomely chic in the great outdoorsy, pragmatic American tradition.” Burch has consistently been included on Forbes’ list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”
As an entrepreneur and a member of PAGE, Burch has two top priorities: to serve as a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, and to help young innovators access the capital they need to turn their bright ideas into thriving business enterprises.
Burch created the Tory Burch Foundation (TBF) in 2009 to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families. It provides women with access to capital, mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as entrepreneurial education.
From New York City and Dallas to San Francisco, TBF has hosted a variety of mentoring sessions, including public relations and marketing workshops, and co-sponsors “Women Rule,” a series of events and digital content, in partnership with Politico and Google.
This January, the Tory Burch Foundation joined Bank of America to launch the Elizabeth Street Capital initiative, dedicated to ensuring women business owners have access to the resources they need to grow and scale successful businesses. The initiative launched with an investment of $10 million in low-cost capital from Bank of America to support women entrepreneurs across the country; the initiative partners with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to provide affordable loans to women entrepreneurs in Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and San Francisco and throughout New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas and is continuing to expand to additional markets.
Burch has spoken often about how difficult it can be for young female entrepreneurs to secure loans and startup funding, and this new initiative aims to make it easier and more affordable for women-owned businesses to grow.
Burch’s willingness to share her wisdom and secrets to success has made her an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. Shortly after President Obama named her as a PAGE ambassador earlier this year, Burch spoke at Babson College’s commencement about her own experience starting and growing a business.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job title,” she told the new graduates. “And it isn’t just about starting a company. It’s a state of mind. Even if you’re not yet an entrepreneur, you can be entrepreneurial in everything you do.”
Established by the Department of Commerce, the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) is a group of successful American businesspeople eager to share their knowledge and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at home and abroad. Members have agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally, acting as goodwill ambassadors in discussions about how to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive. They will also participate in outreach and mentorship activities to help promote start-up culture, and energize their own personal and professional networks to challenge and inspire budding entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the many resources available to them.