Tory Burch: You May Know Her Clothes, But We Saw Her Commitment To Female Entrepreneurs
2:55 pm, December 10th | by Amy Tennery
Walking into the pink and orange prepster heaven that is the Tory Burch headquarters in Manhattan Thursday night, you might have thought you’d stumbled into a fashion industry insiders’ cabal. In one corner of the room was the meticulously appointed J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler. In another, makeup guru Bobbi Brown, charming guests with plain-spoken industry wisdom.
You’d think it was the meeting of an insider’s club. That is, until you noticed the army of women toting wheelie luggage, who had travelled from both near and far to glean wisdom from the dozen or so business icons in the room. Because this was no fashionista playground; it was just the latest of Tory Burch’s efforts to help put more women in business.
Since 2009, the Tory Burch Foundation has fought to foster more women entrepreneurs. Per its mission statement, it “provides economies opportunities for women.” But it also holds events like these — casual roundtable talks between the up-and-comers and the been-there-done-thats.
Accion USA, a finance provider specializing in small loan for low- and middle-income business owners (mostly women), co-sponsored the event, which drew mentors including American Express Executive Vice President Joan Amble, Warner Brothers Theatre Ventures Executive Vice President Mark Kaufman, Drexler, Brown and others.
And while Burch is best known for her ubiquitous clothing line, she told us that her label was vehicle for pursuing this philanthropic cause.
“One of the reasons I wanted to start our company was to be able to start a foundation,” Burch said. “As a working mother, I wanted it to support women and their families.”
And why? Burch argues that female entrepreneurs face hurdles that their male counterparts often don’t, particularly in the funding stages.
“Women are more likely to be denied a business loan or venture capital, and they are often juggling their company while caring for a family,” Burch said.
And the mentoring events have been a hit so far. Tory Burch Foundation Executive Director Terri McCullough said the foundation has hosted four other mentor meetings.
“Starting your own business can be very isolating and part of what the foundation is trying to do is create networks and encourage collaboration,” McCullough said.
Like Burch, she also agreed that “access to capital” is one of the biggest challenges female entrepreneurs face. Of course, the recently established Tory Burch Foundation Fund (which partners with Accion) ought to help with that.
“I believe women are our best investment,” Burch said, “And when we invest in them, they invest in their communities.”
(Photo courtesy of Accion USA)