Fashion designer Tory Burch took center stage at the Raytheon Theater at Northeastern University earlier this afternoon to chat with a room brimming with budding entrepreneurs. The Philadelphia native was invited to serve on the board of Startup America Partnership, with much credit to her efforts through her namesake foundation, The Tory Burch Foundation, and fashion and accessories label, Tory Burch LLC, for which she currently serves at CEO and CCO.
Since Burch’s foundation and the theme of the day is to share the tools of knowledge and financial support with the next generation of business-savvy savants, we asked for a few words of advice for our readers.
So Startup America seems to be an ideal fit for you and your foundation.
It’s a great fit, and it wasn’t much of a decision for me after just seeing what exciting things they were doing.
Is there anything you wish you knew going into the business?
Just how hard it would be. I think that it is hard and I often talk to entrepreneurs about that. I tell them to know that it’s going to be fulfilling and exciting but also know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work. You need to be super passionate and super focused. Also, you need to have a unique idea.
As someone with a strong brand, what advice do you have for these young entrepreneurs when it comes to developing what their brand will be and stand for?
I don’t think mine was started from the very moment from what I started about it. I think it’s a lot of trial and error and being flexible enough to move on for when it’s not working.
What are the next steps for the Tory Burch Foundation?
I think we’re just starting, just like a company. We still have so much to do. The more women we can help in business the better.
Are there any great young start-up ideas that you’re very excited about?
I just met with eight here [at the event] today that sound like they all have legs. These girls are bright, tenacious and sound like they really want to build great companies.
Since you’ve arrived in Boston, do you think you have a good sense of the city?
Well I’ve been to Boston many times. I love Boston.
But do you think we’re stylish?
I think Boston has its own style, it reminds me of Philadelphia in a way. It’s slanted a bit more conservative but it has other elements as well. It’s such a great young college town.
What rule do you think all businesses — start-up or not — should follow?
Always be transparent.
In terms of being transparent, you have a very socially and social media active business. Do you think any young businesses run into any pitfalls when pursuing these fields?
Probably all the time! [Laughs] I think social media is something everyone is always learning and we’re learning as we go as well. We’re very interested in being in the forefront of social media in general. Moving into China, for instance, Sina Weibo (China’s microblogging answer to Twitter and Facebook) is something we’re interested in. Twitter is something I personally do myself, but Facebook is something our team works on. It’s a fine balance of what you can say on Twitter but I think authenticity is really what it’s all about in social media.
[Top image courtesy of Tory Burch]