Designer Tory Burch is CEO of the Tory Burch empire as well as the Tory Burch Foundation, which will host the first Embrace Ambition Summit tomorrow in New York. The all-day event aims to examine stereotypes about women and ambition in the workplace with Margaret Atwood, Yara Shahidi, and St. Vincent among the speakers. Tickets are sold out, but the summit will be livestreamed. Here, Burch shares more on the summit and how she gets it all done.
What she hopes to achieve at the Embrace Ambition Summit:
We struck a chord with women, and we’ve reached 192 countries, so for us it was very important first of all to address harmful stereotypes. Ambition was one that I personally related to.
We want people to walk away and be more aware of unconscious bias and how it impacts everyone, not just women. We want to encourage people to change behaviors that reflect even thinking about stereotypes. And we are going to have some takeaways, like how to behave in the workforce. We really wanted to make it inclusive — people applied to come and it’s free, so we have entrepreneurs, we have students. It’s for men and women, and I think including men is a big part of what’s missing in much of the conversation. We really need to have men support women’s issues. They’re half of the population.
On starting her day:
Generally during the week I wake up around 6 — with or without an alarm. It’s like clockwork. I check the news, sometimes I go back to bed, but I try to get to the gym before my boys wake up. If I do go to the gym I do a pretty quick workout, and then I wake up my son to get ready. We have breakfast together, and then I get him off to school.
How she gets her news:
I mean, every way I can. Print, online, cable, podcasts. I’m a little bit obsessed with the news these days, I’m sure like everyone else. I read The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. NPR podcasts are really good.
On a typical workday:
One part of my job that I love is how there’s never a day that’s alike, and everything comes at you. I try to get to our office around 8:30. It can be anything from budget or strategy sessions, creative reviews, meetings with the head of our foundation, store design … it goes on.
On the idea of work-life balance:
[Laughing] I definitely try to think about work-life balance! I think it’s very important. I don’t have a lot of time for myself, that’s something I need to work on. Weekends are definitely down time, and that’s when I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I play a lot of tennis. I love movies. I’ve become obsessed with gardening. My mom was an organic gardener since the ’70s and I was her assistant. It’s funny how things happen in life … I take after my mom! But I have a vacation coming up. I’m taking my boys and my fiancé and his boys to Africa. We’re going on a safari, which I’m really thrilled about.
Her travel superstitions:
I’m definitely superstitious, I always carry a red ribbon when I fly. It’s kind of a family tradition that I’ve passed on to my stepdaughters and my children. I try to travel as light as possible — that doesn’t always work out. I just pack as few things as possible, not too complicated. I always bring raw almonds and apricots as a snack. And I love reading, I’m a pretty avid reader, so I bring books. I just like the feel of having a physical book!
Her advice for people starting out in their careers:
I have plenty. My parents — their advice was very good for me. They would say, “Think of negativity as noise.” That has served me well.
“Always stay intellectually curious” is something that is truly important for me in business, as well as in life. And “there’s no such thing as an overnight success.” And: “be prepared to work hard.” One other thing that I think is important, if you’re starting a business, is to think about social responsibility. That was part of my business plan from the very beginning. And I think it’s such a wonderful time to see things shift and change where businesses aren’t innovative without purpose.