When you hear the words “Tory Burch,” the remarkable power of branding comes to mind. After all, her double T medallion which graces most of her shoes, bags and earrings is recognized internationally. I dare say, it may just be a few years before it is on the same level as the Chanel double C’s. So you would think the woman behind this massive brand would have been Ms. Confident from the beginning. But as I found out last night when Burch spoke at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Graduation ceremony, that was hardly the case.
“I’m a very private person. I didn’t want to call it [the company] my name. I had no background in business, I hadn’t been to business school and I hadn’t been to design school. I just wanted to open a shop downtown and be off the radar.”
Tory initially called the clothing company Tory by TRB. As it got to be more popular everyone said it was confusing and that she should change it but it wasn’t until a profile on Tory and the company came out in The New York Times that she really realized what not calling it Tory meant. A friend told her the article was great but that she never once mentioned the word ambition. “It was such an important lesson for me. Women should have the ability to be just as ambitious as men,” she said. After that, the company became Tory Burch LLC. And the rest is history.
It’s great to see such a powerful and well-known woman saying she was afraid in the beginning too, because she knew she was taking a risk. But boy did it pay off! And if anyone can talk to women about starting a small business, it’s her. Tory started her company at her kitchen table. As she said, she had no formal training but she worked past it, cold-calling people to ask if she could show them her image books. This was not a sketchbook of designs, but rather a book of images she had collected over the years that showed what she thought was missing from fashion and stores.
She managed to raise $10 million and soon her staff grew to 16 people. Now she is in charge of 2,000 employees. Her iconic brand is available at 49 free-standing Tory Burch stores across the U.S., 24 international stores and over 1,000 select department and specialty stores worldwide, according to Business Insider.