Rebecca Minkoff, who has built her business for 20 years, is hopeful about her future after the pandemic.
Source: Rebecca Minkoff
By the time Rebecca Minkoff landed in New York at 18, she had saved some money and had big dreams of becoming a fashion designer.
“I had $ 10,000 in babysitting savings, bat mitzvah money I never touched, some loans that were given to me,” said Minkoff, co-founder and creative director of her eponymous clothing line.
She screwed everything up on the stuff for her first clothing line and expensive lookbooks showing off the look of the line. Only one store called her.
“You never forget the first moment you are scared,” said Minkoff. “That’s all you have.
“This is your pillow – and then it’s gone.”
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She couldn’t be crushed. Instead, the fashion designer repurposed the fabric and made things that the two boutiques that sold her clothes undertook to take over on consignment.
“Then I would make these postcards by hand,” recalls Minkoff, who records her success and gives advice in her new book, Fearless. “I went to Union Square and said, ‘New designer, aspiring designer, please go see her.’
“I would drive people to these stores so they could buy these goods,” she said.
Risk taking has always been part of Minkoff’s DNA. She moved to New York instead of college and started her business after being fired from her first fashion job.
Rebecca Minkoff made it a point to speak directly to her customers.
Source: Rebecca Minkoff
She was also in contact with her consumer early on, despite having been told that doing so would harm her business.
“We actually had meetings with every single incredible department store we sold to and some very powerful ones too.” [fashion publication] Editor-in-chief who said, ‘If you keep talking to your client we just don’t think we can wear you or cover this brand, you are making yourself dirty,’ “Minkoff said.
“We were ready to take the risk,” she added.
It paid off – customers were drawn to her in-person events and retailers stayed with her.
Lessons from the pandemic
This mindset also helped her weather the Covid pandemic.
After the stores closed in March 2020, Minkoff said she lost 70% of last year’s business. She focused all of her attention on selling direct to consumers and spent a lot of time talking to her customers on social media and through her Superwomen podcast.
“It would have been a lot easier to do a lot less work to say, ‘Well, that was fun. … Just close everything, we’ll be back in a year,'” she said.
“We decided to move on,” she added. “We said we owe it to ourselves … to give everything we have.
“Sometimes that alone decides the success.”
Minkoff does not disclose sales figures, but said in an interview in May 2019 that its gross sales figures were “north of $ 100 million”. That means the 70% loss she claims would be equivalent to gross sales of $ 30 million.
Fortunately for Minkoff, retailers are back and increasing their orders. Her direct-to-consumer business grew 10% year over year in 2020, she said.
She’s also introducing new categories, including home, and her second fragrance is coming out. Later that year, Minkoff will also work with a number of shoe brands.
“The consumer, she wants to go shopping again, she is looking forward to going out,” said Minkoff.
Advice for women entrepreneurs
Like other women entrepreneurs, Minkoff had to fight for success.
“We have to stick our own necks out and make the sacrifices and take the risk of asking [for help],” She said.
Minkoff suggests being specific when asking others for help, such as where they make their bags or upholstery, and networking.
“I used to come home every night and count business cards like they were cash,” Minkoff recalls.