Besides teaching us that a white blouse isn’t only an essential part of any woman’s wardrobe, but an absolute fashion statement, she knows a thing or two about how to have a great career. Since launching her flagship Carolina Herrera brand in New York in 1981 she now runs a multi-billion fashion empire including her signature fashion collection, a bridal collection, fragrances and accessories. Herrera has more than 280 stores in 104 countries and her clients have included the late Jackie Onassis, Renee Zellweger and Tina Fey. The Venezuelan-born designer recently sat down with CNN for an interview and we plucked some of her words of wisdom when it came to work.
1) Surround yourself with people who have different skills than you.
Carolina said: “I have a team, a fantastic president who takes care of the numbers of the company. If you ask me to take care of that side, I would be sitting there crying because I don’t know what to do. If I ask her to design clothes, she wouldn’t know how to do (it). But I always tell the young designers that you have to separate the creative side with the business side. You have to have somebody very capable to run the business side. Because then, you’re successful.
(Fashion is) a very difficult business, as you know, because fashionis a business. If you don’t sell, then you are not in the business. You might be the best designer and you are so creative and new, have the most beautiful ideas, but if they all stay in your room and they don’t go out to be worn by someone, then you are not in business. The most difficult (part) of this business is to have the right teams, because I (could not have done) everything I have done alone. If I (didn’t) have my teams behind me, I wouldn’t be sitting here. Fashion is a collaboration with many people.
2) It’s difficult to have it all, but you can try.
Carolina said: “We women manage to do many things at the same time. Men, no. Men do one thing at a time. I see my husband say ‘why are you doing all these at the same time? You’re going to do something wrong here.’ I say, ‘No.’ Because women, we are able to do that. Because we have children; we have to work sometime; we run a house; we have a husband and everything works. It’s a question of organizing yourself.”
3) Respect your employees.
Carolina said: “I don’t think I like to go around shouting. I don’t believe in this. I believe that you have to treat the people who work with you like your family.”
4) To go into a field like fashion passion won’t get you everywhere. You also have to be talented.
Carolina said: “First of all you have to love it. Second you have to remember that it’s not going to be easy. You have a lot of problems. You have to have perseverance. You have to do it even if it doesn’t work and you have to keep going. You have to be strong about it. They have to have the talent to do it, because without talent, how can you do fashion?”
5) Don’t get an ego.
Carolina said: You have to deal with the fashion egos. You know, there is a lot. It shouldn’t be treated that seriously because fashion is only making dresses to make women look beautiful. We’re not inventing anything new.
6) Don’t work all the time.
This one is from another interview but it was too good to resist. In an interview for the book In Style Carolina said: ”The moment I leave my office I draw a curtain on my work. Because you know what is really boring? When you work and work and then work some more, and you don’t realize it, but work is all you talk about all the time. Many designers have that problem. Work should be an important part of your life. But for it to be your life? That is very sad.”
Watch her interview here.