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February 14, 2024 38 mins

You’ve probably seen Rebecca Minkoff’s bags on the streets of New York City, in paparazzi photos, or inside the pages of magazines. But after returning from maternity leave, she confesses that she felt like a "stranger" in her own company--a turning point that refocused her attention on building a space to support other female founders. On this episode of She Pivots, Rebecca talks with Emily about the hard work that was required to get her business off the ground; what it’s like working with her brother; the tough (but impactful) words an employee told her after she returned from maternity leave; and, the important work she is doing through her Female Founder Collective. 

 

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She Pivots was created by host Emily Tisch Sussman to highlight women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. To learn more about Rebecca, follow us on Instagram @ShePivotsThePodcast or visit shepivotsthepodcast.com.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
I'm Jesse Hemple, host of Hello Monday. In my twenties,
I knew what I wanted for my career, But from
where I am now, in the middle of my life,
nothing feels ascertain. Works changing, We're changing, and there's no
guidebook for how to make sense of any of it.
So every Monday, I bring you conversations with people who

(00:22):
are thinking deeply about work and where it fits into
our lives. We talk about making career pivots, about purpose
and how to discern it, about where happiness fits into
the mix, and how to ask for more money. Come
join us in the Hello Monday community. Let's figure out
the future together. Listen to Hello Monday with Jesse Hemple

(00:45):
wherever you get your podcasts.

Speaker 2 (00:49):
Welcome back to she Pivots. I'm Rebecca Minkoff.

Speaker 3 (01:02):
Welcome to she Pivots, the podcast where we talk with
women who dared to pivot out of one career and
into something new and explore how their personal lives impacted
these decisions. I'm your host, Emily Tish Sussman. Welcome back
to she Pivots. I'm your host Emily Tish Sussman. Today

(01:26):
we have a true trailblazer in the world of fashion,
an entrepreneur and an inspiration to many. Rebecca Minkoff. We
all know Rebecca for her incredible style and innovation in
the fashion industry. I mean we all know her iconic
Morning after bag. As a fashion designer, businesswoman, certified cool girl,

(01:49):
and the co founder of the globally recognized brand that
bears her name, Rebecca has left an indelible mark on
the industry. Her entrepreneurial spirit pushed her to embrace the
intersection of technology, social media, and fashion. She became an
early adopter of the groundbreaking fashion technology, allowing her to
grow her sales while connecting with her audience. Despite success

(02:12):
after success in her industry, her real pivot came after
she returned from maternity leave and found herself looking to
make an impact in a new and different way. Thus
both Superwoman, her podcast, and the Female Founder's Collective were born.
Stay tuned as we delve into her story and hear
how her mindset shifted throughout each new change and venture. Enjoy.

Speaker 2 (02:41):
My name is re Beca min Coff. I'm a fashion
designer and the co founder a Female Founder Collective. I
have a podcast, Superwomen with her Beckamen Coff and I'm
a best selling author fearless and you have four kids,
and I am a mother with four children, with which
blows my mind like three send me into chaos.

Speaker 3 (02:59):
Four I cannot imagine.

Speaker 2 (03:00):
I'm going home after this to take a nap. A'm
well deserved. Now where did you grow up? So the
first nine years of my life was San Diego. The
second nine years of my life was Tampa, Florida. That
was not my parent's intention, but they saw that there
was nothing happening in Tampa and that was great for
raising children and not having them get into trouble. So

(03:22):
my dad was a doctor and he had got an
opening in Florida and he was like, well, I want
to change of scenery. And that was it.

Speaker 3 (03:33):
You know, you really launched your career, made a name
for yourself first as a fashion designer. And you said
that the first thing you designed was your butt Mitzvah outfit.

Speaker 2 (03:41):
It was. It was the first thing that I designed
in war successfully. I'll say that I had the opportunity
to work with this New York City designer who had
moved to Podunkville, where I lived, and she taught me
at a sew and make patterns and I was so excited,
and as a young girl at twelve thirteen, when you're
entering womanhood but you don't look like a woman, I

(04:03):
was like, I got a design address that like maybe
can show off my burgeoning bosom. That was this is
weird that that was like for my bot mitzvah. That's
what I wanted, was like show off my chest. But
I had like double a boobs aka nothing, and so
I was like a square neck like medieval times. And
then I'll get like a little push up raw to
help me.

Speaker 3 (04:23):
Soon after her show stopping butt Mitzvah outfit, Rebecca continued
her creative endeavors and enrolled at a performing arts school.

Speaker 2 (04:31):
As a dancer. And then in high school, I hit
a really tough time where my teachers I don't want
to pivot us too hard. But I was a dancer
in a performing arts high school but kept getting told
like you're too tall, you ruin the symmetry, your boobs
are too big, like just everything terrible you could tell
a young woman. And I was a painfully thin, very
awkward young girl, and I couldn't fit into regular clothes

(04:54):
and I was bullied for it. And being able to
sew and make things fit me gave me a lot
of confidence and it made me feel incredibly empowered. And
so I just became addicted to the idea like, oh
it doesn't fit, No big deal, I can you know,
take it in or add this to it. And so
that was just something I just I wanted to sew
all the time, and then I would make things for
my friends and it just became a great way to

(05:16):
like hang out and you end up making something. So
you grew up Jewish. Was that a big part of
your identity you had about Mitzvah? It was a huge
part of my identity. It was every Friday with Shabbat
I had about Mitzvah. My dad was very serious about
observing the holidays up until the point, I would say
about fifteen, and then all of a sudden it was like,
uh waited that, which was weird because he was so

(05:39):
strict about it. And so I was already by that time.
I went to jew camp starting at thirteen, and by
sixteen I was going to Israel for six weeks for
a workshop program with all the other kids who were
part of the camps. And at eighteen, I had the
opportunity to go live on the keyboots for a year,
and all my friends were going, but I was so

(06:00):
desperate to get here and to start working and designing.
And I felt like if I took a year off
getting drunk and living on a kibotz, that I might be,
you know, behind, And so it was. It was one
of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, was
to not go on that trip and here being New York.

Speaker 3 (06:13):
Yeah, so after high school, you are like, get me
to New York.

Speaker 2 (06:19):
Yes, So I thought I wanted to be a geneticist,
and so I went to Johns Hopkins like to like
see the school, and I thought, I will die in
a laboratory. I will just not make it. And if
I have to do this for seven years before I
can practice, and I really found out like what it
takes to be in that world. I thought, Wow, I
don't want this. And then I was like, maybe I

(06:40):
don't even want to go to college. And in my house,
my parents are kind of hippies. Everything was untraditional, so
you know, they said to any all of us, like,
it's cool if you want to go to college, but
you don't have to, and if you do, you're paying
for it, and it was kind of like no pressure,
so none of us actually ended up going. What else
was non traditional in your household? I would say that

(07:01):
the things you think a mother should do for you
weren't done or a parent, you know, whether it's it's
the little things like signing you up for summer camp,
and it was like, no, here are the forms, you
fill them out down to My brothers wanted to go
visit their friends and they were thirteen, and she put
them on a greyhound from Tampa to San Diego. So
I think everything we wanted we had to work for.

(07:21):
There was a ledger in the kitchen and it was
about how you know what you earned? And I had
to cook dinner twice a week, and I had to
do dishes twice a week, and so some of those
things are normal, but I think a lot of this
hands off approach to like if you want to figure
it out, was really there. I did negotiate at age
nine with my art teacher about her prices because my
mom was like, if you want to these classes, they're
too expensive, but you can talk to her about lowering

(07:43):
the price.

Speaker 3 (07:44):
At the time, did you realize that your parents were
a little more hands off than others around you.

Speaker 2 (07:48):
I started realizing it. I was angry about it, and
I was pissed because I would see, like my friend
would just she celebrated Christmas and I would go there.
I'd be like, you get all these presents. I get one,
and your parents take you on trips and I have
to earn it. Like I was just like, whoa, this
is a different world. Yeah, but I'm trying to raise
my children in the same way. You want it, you

(08:09):
earn it, and I'm hoping it ReBs off on the
entrepreneurial side on them the way it did with me.

Speaker 3 (08:15):
Yeah, at what point did your perspective flip on the parenting.

Speaker 2 (08:19):
Having not my son, My son, my twelve year old,
has always been grateful and gracious, but my daughter like
I want, I want, I want, I want, and living
in New York City, you know, and I'm like, oh no,
we are not taking that route with you. You will
earn this. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (08:34):
Yeah, it's hard.

Speaker 2 (08:35):
It's I think it's particularly hard in the city. But
I also think, like, you get invited to a party
in New York City and I don't even know the
words for it, just the goodie bags and the bouncy cat.
Like everything. The abundance is so much that even if
you're not providing it to them, they're seeing it and
they know it's possible, and it's hard to be like,

(08:56):
all right, come back down to earth.

Speaker 3 (08:58):
Okay, So back to your journey. Was it always fashion
that attracts you?

Speaker 1 (09:02):
Like?

Speaker 2 (09:02):
What about fashion? Okay? Going back for Hanukkah, Every year
we would get like one thing, and I would always
get a magazine subscription to w or Vogue, and then
my brother would steal it and I would kill him.
When it finally come to me, I would devour it,
and I felt like I have to be in New York.
That's where everything's happening. And for everyone listening, it's pre
any social I mean, there's nothing magazines are it. So

(09:25):
my brother had gone to a party and he came
home one night and he said, I just met a designer.
He was in from New York doing a trunk show
at the local Podunk Nordstrum in Tampa, and he gave
me his number. He said he takes interns. Maybe you
should call him, And so I literally called this guy
and he picked up. He's like, yeah, come up, when
do you want to come up. We paint minimum wage

(09:45):
and I was like, oh, it's that easy, Okay, I'll
be there. And I told my parents. I was like,
so I'm moving to New York and I'm going to
start working. And you know, we got to go on
to Craigslist and find me an apartment. And my mom
and dad were like, we're not paying for you to
go to an apartment. Like you wanted to do this,
you figured out. So what we finally hobbled together was

(10:06):
I lived with my friend in Fordham University. We shared
a bed. He was gay, so it was like it
was fine that we shared a bed. He would sneak
me in every night and then over like Russia Shana,
my parents came up and made a deal with my cousin.
They're like, all right, she's going to sleep on the
floor and babysit your kid. Well you let her live
with you. And that was, you know, how it all started.

Speaker 3 (10:26):
So what did you do as an intern?

Speaker 2 (10:28):
So my first day, the CEO, who ended up becoming
a mentor was like, ugh, you're just another pretty girl.
He's let in here. Day one was you're going to
work in the shipping department. And I was so angry,
and I was like, I am better than this. But
I really learned a lot about packaging and shipping, and
then it was like, organize a supply closet, answer the phones,

(10:49):
cuts watches, call these stores, make appointments, and every day
was different. And as I began to get used to
sort of not knowing what I was going to do
that day, it just got exciting to be able to
learn every sort of part of the business. And then
about six months in, I said, I think you should
hire me full time. I've proven my worth and I
want to work in the design area and she was like, great,

(11:11):
yes you have.

Speaker 3 (11:12):
So she began to design for Craig Tailor, but all
the time she continued to keep one foot in as
a dancer, thinking that might be the path she would pursue.

Speaker 2 (11:22):
I was so happy to be there, and I was
still kind of like, do I still be a dancer.
I was taking classes at Alvin Alien. I had gotten
into their two year certificate program and I was like, oh,
you know, I forget where I was with Someone's like,
you should be a model, and I was like, maybe
I'll be a model until I went into a casting
and the guy was like, you know, you're really hairy.

(11:44):
And then he reached over and he's like, and you
got to get rid of this, and he grabbed my
stomach fat and I was like, I'm going to just
put that idea to bed, because okay, maybe I'll be
a dancer or a designer. And then I said this
to this woman, Komy, the CEO, and she's like, you
need to just what you want to do, Like you
can't be all over the place. It's time to get

(12:04):
focused and you know what is it? And I was like, Okay,
she might be right, So I said I'll pursue design
and so I ended up working there for a total
of around three years.

Speaker 3 (12:12):
Wow. Do you feel like that was the right advice
for you in that moment?

Speaker 2 (12:16):
It was because I was just like, maybe I'll be
this and maybe i'll be that, And I feel like
those types of maybes are great if you're sixteen, but
they're not great if you're nineteen and you decided not
to go to college and you moved to New York
to work for a designer, like like Pickling.

Speaker 3 (12:32):
Spoiler alert, she did. She started small custom making a
small collection of pieces herself. I had a five piece collection.
I lived New York was one of them, literally bought
off the street but cut up and be dazzled because
that was pre Etsy and people wanted diy and an actress.
Jenna Elfman asked for it via my brother again.

Speaker 2 (12:52):
He seems to be a connection and senator on September ninth,
she wore on Jay Leno two months later and said
my name on national televisions. If you don't have Pani act,
this sounds a lot of fun.

Speaker 1 (13:02):
She can be seen on the sitcom Accidentally on Purpose,
which airs Wednesday night.

Speaker 2 (13:06):
It's another Networks, Please welcome Jenna Elfman. And that was
kind of like the big moment of being in the
magazine and making all these shirts and nine months straight
of that that.

Speaker 3 (13:17):
Shirt, riding the high of her new success. It was
her mentor that once again played a key role and
nudging her towards her true potential.

Speaker 2 (13:25):
And then Koomi, the same CEO called me and was like,
you're fired, Go do what you love. Wow. Yeah you
were so young. I was twenty one. Yeah. It was scary,
but I think that when you have nothing right and
you are fueled by your work and by potential and opportunity.
I was like what's the worst that could happen? I

(13:47):
end up on my parents' couch, right, And to me
that was like, Okay, that'll suck and I'll have to regroup,
but like, let me just try it.

Speaker 3 (13:56):
Yeah, okay, So you did the T shirts for a
little while.

Speaker 2 (14:00):
Yeah, about nine months, it's all.

Speaker 3 (14:01):
I did just this, these five T shirts.

Speaker 2 (14:03):
Yes, And then I started calling stores and I was like,
by the way, I have more than a shirt, you know,
let me show you. And then one store in these
village was like, I'll take this blouse on consignment. And
then I would literally given the plows and then go
into Union Square and pass out postcards like new Designer
Alert Now, Like I was one of those people standing
there like handing this out. And then I'd run back

(14:25):
to the store and be like did it sell and
he'd be like yeah, and I'd be like, all right,
I passed out five hundred postcards for one sale, so
if I want to sell more, I gotta do one thousand.
And I would go back to Union Square, and you know,
I was scrappy. I would find out who magazine editors were.
Email was new, but I would like figure it out
and then email them all images and then I found
one burgeoning website called raven Style, and she would buy

(14:46):
stuff and I'd be like, I need the deposit before
I make the goods. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (14:49):
I was about to ask how you had the capital
and how you had the connections to be producing at
that kind of scale.

Speaker 2 (14:54):
It was not It was not a big scale. It
was a very tiny scale. The amazing woman from raven
Style give me a deposit because she knew I didn't
have it, so she'd give me enough. I'd go uptown,
buy the fabric, buy the crystals, make it, and then
deliver it to her for the balance of the payment.
So I worked like that for a long time, and
then I said to my dad, I would like to

(15:16):
open up a credit card. Could you co sign it
with me? And because he had great credit, I got
a lot of money. But he was like, just want
to let you know, like I'm not paying for this card,
like you are responsible. And that's when I got into trouble.
When I didn't have enough orders or I had to
buy fabric or whatever, I'd put it on the card

(15:36):
and be like, hey, yea, I'll pay it back, and
then you know, I slowly racked up a lot of debt.
That inevitably is when I had to call my brother
and that's you know, that's when we begin working together
and the bag started to take off. So that was
kind of the all right, I'm out of my league
on the business side of stuff, and I actually need
someone to help me.

Speaker 3 (15:54):
Can you actually talk through with Some of those steps
are because I think that a lot of people, when
they're thinking about their pivot, go immediately to product and think, oh, well,
I'll just make a product and I'll sell it. And
I think not having an understanding of the ebbs and
flows I think, particularly of apparel business, I think ends
up surprising a lot of people sounds like, including you,

(16:14):
Oh it's surprising.

Speaker 2 (16:16):
So I think with apparel it's really you know, if
your dream is to be a designer, And again I
would give different advice if you're a T shirt versus
a cature gown. But I think that having your own
website is incredibly important, whether you're selling anything or not.
And I think today there's a lot more creativity in
how you can take orders. You know. One of the
things when NFTs were all the rage was the idea

(16:40):
that you could treat the NFT as a token and
you know, buy this NFT, you will get the dressed too.
But you also get to see me in my studio
working or at a photo shoot, or access to things
that money can't buy. And so I think that's a
smart and powerful way to raise money. And I think
that the idea of the tupper party is not dead.

(17:01):
It's like, who do you have and know with circles
of influence that could host and support you. When I
look back, there was a woman in Los Angeles that
would like put out wine and cheese and she's like,
bring seventy five bags. They'll be gone by the end
of the night. And she would invite all her friends
and they were excited and the bags were gone and
I had cash. And so I think that as you

(17:22):
begin to look at your business, there's a lot of
non traditional ideas you can use to do it. But
so many women are like, oh, I'm starting an apparel company.
I need to raise money, you know. And I think
that that's the wrong approach because most investors know they
will not see her return on an investment of just
an apparel company. That's just not how it works. And
so I say start small, start focused, be the best

(17:44):
in whatever it is, even if it's a white T
shirt and why and from there really make your network,
help support you and work for you.

Speaker 3 (17:53):
She continued to build and grow, but slower than she wanted.
She craved another big break, and that's when she came
up with her iconic morning After bag. You know that one,
the perfectly disheveled can fit everything but looks like an
it girl would carry it bag.

Speaker 1 (18:11):
And people took notice of what's now known as the
iconic morning After Bag. Now, the original morning After bag
was very popular in the mid two thousands, most notably
carried by celebrities Hayden Panitier and Lindsay Lohan.

Speaker 3 (18:26):
This is honestly one of my favorite bags, just because
the functionality of this bag is great.

Speaker 2 (18:33):
I had just launched the bag. It had a heat
in a momentum that I never had with the apparel.
It hit a nerve with women in a way that
you can only hope happens to everyone.

Speaker 3 (18:43):
And switching to bags that's a much more expensive product,
like for you to make? Yeah, was that a decision
based on design? Based on presented return?

Speaker 1 (18:53):
Like?

Speaker 3 (18:53):
What was that decision for you?

Speaker 2 (18:55):
The decision for the bag was really about Jenna came
back to me. She said, I'm going to be in
a feature film. The character wears the bag the entire time.
You will not have seen this film because I went
straight to DVD. Sadly, okay, I was about to ask
you which film it's called Touched. Bag did not make
it to set. It was delivered two hours late. They
started filming. It was devastating. When I say, I was like,

(19:16):
like the assistant college, She's like, where is the bag?
And I was like, I don't know. And then it
arrived and she's like, we started shooting with another bag.
And I was like, can we do it? She was
like no.

Speaker 3 (19:26):
So my heart just grew.

Speaker 2 (19:28):
It was terrible. I was like on the corner of
like Fifth Avenue near Henry Bendell or wherever that Stora
just was like pacing back and forth while I was
on the phone with her, and I was like, well,
I just I just bought a really expensive bag my first,
you know, I made her a sample. I made me
a sample. And then I noticed, as I was wearing
the sample, so many women were stopping me on the

(19:50):
street asking me about, you know, the bag, and I thought,
there's something here. Let's see what happens. So a dear
friend of mine who was a stylist that I knew
through the industry, was like, I'm gonna have Baily Candy
right about it, and we're going to put it in
this store that I know in La called seteen, which
is like the go to store for celebrities, and they
ordered twelve daily. Candy wrote about it sold out in

(20:11):
like ten minutes. Pretty soon it girls everywhere.

Speaker 3 (20:15):
We're carrying the bad Lindsay Lohan was photographed with it
and it began to fly off the shelves faster than
she could keep up with. So she turned back to
her dad looking for financing to keep up with the orders.

Speaker 2 (20:28):
And so I went back to my dad. I was like,
all right, I'm not a loser anymore. I actually have
something that's working. Do you want to loan me just
a little bit more money to make the next production run?
He's like absolutely not, Like how are you paying the
credit card? Because I'm seeing the bills and the balance
isn't really going down that much. It's like one hundred
dollars a month, but this is sixty grand that you've spent.
I was like, all right, I'll talk to you later bye.

(20:50):
So I called my brother, and my brother had basic
business questions. Is there an LLC? Do you have a
TAXID number? All that whatever, And the original intent wasn't like,
all right, now we're partners. He was just kind of
helping me through. He was advancing me capital. He was
in the software world. He has a software company, and
when he could see the numbers start to really like
the orders coming in, like really growing, he was like, oh,

(21:13):
there's something here, and he felt comfortable enough with the
trajectory of the business that he put his credit card
as you know, the funding of things, and then it
was his house. He mortgaged his house because we could
not get alan and the whole VC private equity game
hadn't even really started in our industry yet, so we
waited seven years before we took outside capital.

Speaker 3 (21:34):
She continued to bootstrap, barely paying herself a salary and
supplementing her growing business with other work.

Speaker 2 (21:41):
I supplemented my T shirt years with styling. I was
a stylist. I did Heidi Klumb for the first season
of Project Runway. They were like, all right, we have
one thousand dollars for ten episodes and no budget for wardrobe.
Do you want this great job. I was like, yes,
I was begging people, like I would call Chanel and

(22:02):
like all these things, and everyone would shut the door
in my face.

Speaker 3 (22:06):
To lend her.

Speaker 2 (22:07):
Yes, and they didn't. You want to lend her. It's
like Reality TV Project Runway, Like that sounds terrible. It
was in reality TV was like new and dirty and
you know, like beneath people. Yeah, so I had to
like rub pennies together to like get her to look good.
I even put her in a lot of my stuff
at the time. Anyways, so that that made me some

(22:27):
money that I mean, that felt like actually wortant to me.

Speaker 3 (22:29):
Kind of an opportunity to put you in her clothes.

Speaker 2 (22:31):
Oh no, it was great. Did that help with that publicity?

Speaker 3 (22:34):
That actually helps the line? That was that exposure that helped.

Speaker 2 (22:36):
I mean it was nice because I could use it
when I go to a store like oh, Heidi Klum
wearing my shirt protrick, you know, like I could when
the when the series became a success, I could use
it working with families complicated. Yeah, how's it been. So
we sold the business February of last year, so he
is now just an advisor. But I think we had
the building years were incredible. He was in his lane,

(22:59):
I was in mine. And then when we each figured
out our own areas and like started giving each other
feedback and advice in each other's lanes, the sparks would fly.
And so we had a lot of tough times where
we weren't speaking and not getting along and fighting pretty badly.
We got a business therapist basically to help us, you know,
get back on the same page, and we would do

(23:21):
that once a year as like vomit it all out
and hopefully come to some sort of alignment. But it
was It took a toll on our relationship for sure.

Speaker 3 (23:28):
Still they were clearly a good team. Eventually, the brand
had grown to over one hundred million in sales and
they decided to bring on a new president.

Speaker 2 (23:37):
We brought in this president that we brought her in
very early on. Oh, we brought her in before we
could afford to like pay me. My brother was like,
add up your rent and your Ramen budget and let
me know what that totals. And I was like, it's
twenty three thousand dollars a year. He's like, great, that's
your salary. And so then we paid her and then

(23:58):
he didn't take a salary because he was making money
from his software. So we brought her in in what
year was it two thousand and seven? I believe there's
like a two year span. But at its height, we
were doing one hundred and ten million in sales and
we probably had one hundred employees. It was unbearable. Unbearable,
how the pressure, the stress, all of it. Managing a

(24:20):
team of eighteen people and being all in it as
a designer and then expected to travel to thirty cities,
do the waving in the trunk shows, be the face
of social you know, be a mother. It was untenable.

Speaker 3 (24:35):
So you started having kids, and at what point did
you feel like, I can't give this whole portfolio. This
eighteen person reporting system is not going to cut it.

Speaker 2 (24:46):
So I was about to go on maternityly with baby
number three. It was twenty eighteen, and I had been
chasing this idea of I just needed another hit. I
just need a big hit. So we had this big
growth surge with this crossbody that was one ninety five.
So I was like me and the team all day long,
what's the next one, what's the next one? Okay, we

(25:07):
got it, let's replicate it. Exactly how we did the
last one and get on this person this person, and
it wasn't working, and I was like banging my head
against the wall. And then I was like, maybe I
don't have it anymore. Maybe I'm just not cut out
for this, or maybe there's someone more talented than me.
And I was just like circling. And there was a
woman at the company who had been designing the men's

(25:27):
line under my brother, and he's like, why don't you
like her run things for a little bit while you
go out and she'll off for a fresh perspective. And
I was like, take it. I'm fucking tired. It's been
a long journey. It was thirteen years at that point,
and so I really left and I handed her off, like,
here are my mood boards for the next six seasons.

(25:49):
Here's everything. I'd tied it with a bow. She was like, great,
put it in the trash as soon as I left
the room. And I went out on leave. And we'd
also hired someone we thought was going to be the
most incredible person in marketing, and she had a doctorate
and I was like, well, what do I know? Like
this woman is clearly learned. Yes, So when I got back.

(26:10):
I felt like a stranger in my own company, and
the marketing person literally said to me, my job would
be easier if you didn't exist.

Speaker 3 (26:20):
The word's done. But it forced her to take a
step back and see a larger issue where she could
have an impact empowering female founders.

Speaker 2 (26:29):
So by that time, I only had to have one
design meeting a week at the time, and I had
a lot more time on my hands, and so I
was like, great, you know, I'll do more speaking. And
you know, that's when I really was like, wow, women
are not paid equally. Like I'm in an industry where
it's women bashing women. But I had no idea that
when you peel outside of the fashion industry, like, there's

(26:52):
another struggle going on that I really didn't know about.
And so to hear about wage inequality and you know
more and named John than women in CEOs, Like I
was just like, holy shit, I thought we were just
I thought it was just women being terrible to women.
I didn't know anything else.

Speaker 3 (27:10):
How did you find out about it? Like you were
still in the same industry, you were still in your company. Yeah,
but I was desperate to make connections. And this started
earlier in like twenty sixteen with women outside of my industry.
So I would host these dinners at my store and
like have women for like the president of the WNBA,
you know, the private wealth investor for Chase, and you know,

(27:31):
a magazine editor or just people outside of my world,
and I would hear them talk and I was like,
oh shit, you know.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
There needs to be a way to support women more.

Speaker 3 (27:40):
What do you think you were chasing by starting this
dinner series.

Speaker 2 (27:45):
I was chasing a community and a camaraderie that I
wasn't able to get within my industry, and I was
hungry for outside perspectives.

Speaker 3 (27:53):
The timing is striking me as interesting as looking for
a community of women, because when I started this podcast,
I had an anticipation that a lot of women's kind
of dark moment that led to their pivot, like might
be COVID or might be like whatever, there's like personal
thing that happened to them. In my case, it was
having a lot of kids all at the same time.
What I did not anticipate is that I hear often

(28:15):
more often than I thought is twenty sixteen the election
of Donald Trump as something that really changed a lot
of women's perspectives. Yeah, I just hear it much more
often than I anticipated. Yeah, so that is the same
year that you started these dinners. Do you think, even
if it wasn't, the election in general just sort of
like the context that led you to start them.

Speaker 2 (28:32):
It's a good question. I don't know if it was
a conscious thing. It just felt like I was suffocating
in my own industry and it was so not supportive.
I remember being on air with another designer and the
interviewer said, Rebecca, you make my favorite dress, and then
I was cut out of the segment and I thought,
now I really must have done a shitty job as

(28:56):
a guest. And I saw the producer a couple of
weeks later or sec, I'm so sorry we had to
cut you, Like she's best friends with my boss, and
that designer was so offended that she wasn't the favorite
designer that she had you cut out, and I was like,
this is gross. You know. In twenty sixteen, I was
two years postpartum. I was like, you know, getting myself
back together and out there, and so two years of

(29:16):
meeting and talking and being around women. Then when I
had the time, I was like, we I need to
do something to support. So what was the first project
that you jumped into in twenty eighteen once you're back
from maternity. Even you realized I can only do one
design meeting a week.

Speaker 3 (29:31):
I've got more time.

Speaker 2 (29:32):
Well, I said to this really smart marketing person, I
was like, so, what's our plan. She's like, well, we
are going to use you in social but not yet.
And I was like, okay, now what do I do?
So I had like two weeks of ladies who lunch
and I was like, I'm going crazy, like I can't
do this, and so she said we should start a podcast.
I said, well, I wanted to start a podcast two

(29:54):
years ago and I was told it was not a
good idea, and she's like, it's a great idea. And
I was like, great, I'm on it. And so I
began and the process of figuring out how to do that,
and then we were at a party for it was
like a rooftop event for some congresswoman or someone to
get elected, and I just remember going, I need to
find a way to make women rich. And the only

(30:15):
way that I know how is if we can know
who they are, we can have a community around them,
and we can support them with education. And so I
just remember thinking about this idea and I said to
a woman on the team, I was like, what do
you think about this idea? I was on the Council
for Women and Girls with Melissa de Rosa and the governor,
and I was like, I'm going to bring this to
the state and the state should have a state seal

(30:38):
that recognizes women own businesses, and blah blah blah and
the red tape and the calls and the just ad nauseum,
and I remember, and I just reconnected with her today.
A woman who was an executive director on the committee
was like, why are you asking the state's permission? Just
do this yourself and I was like, fuck yeah, I'm

(30:58):
doing it for myself. When I took it into my
hands and I said, this has to launch. The reason
why I wanted to start Female Founder Collective was I
wanted there to be some recognizable symbol where we as
females to support and know who is running the business.
So I couldn't be more excited to be a part
of the Female Founder Collective and really give women all
across America and hopefully the world, the opportunity to recognize

(31:21):
female made, female supported, and female powered brands with and
that A longtime supporter who was at IMG, Leslie Russo,
was like, I'm going to put everything behind this, so
you get the photographer, the makeup, the hair, like, everything's covered.
We'll shoot it, we'll launch it with a panel at
fashion Week, and I had a website with like leave
your email here if you'd like our application, and that

(31:42):
was it. That was all we had was me and
my assistant at the time.

Speaker 3 (31:45):
So that's but I mean, that's so interesting that you
launched it within the context of an industry that you
were actually trying to get out.

Speaker 2 (31:51):
Of, right, but I needed the eyeballs and the press
and media around that thing I felt to get momentum.

Speaker 3 (31:59):
So did you launch with a cohort or you just
launched with an idea.

Speaker 2 (32:02):
I launched with an idea. Apply here, we'd send you
the form, we'd review it. If you passed, you were in.
And then what you were in was like we were
making it up at the time. But there's members that
are still around from that time, which is really nice.
We're five years old.

Speaker 3 (32:17):
So how did you start to feel like it was
becoming the hitting mass? So you had the community that
you wanted, so.

Speaker 2 (32:24):
In the first i'd say two weeks, we hit three
thousand applications and I was like, oh shit, we have
to do something with this now. So the first step was, okay,
here's this, you know, once we've approved and vetted you,
here's the CEO so you can place on your website
or your products. That was kind of most important. And
then it was like, well, we need a day, like
we need an event. And I was about three months

(32:44):
in when I met my co founder and CEO, Ali Wyatt,
and she came on and she had been at girl
Boss Ya. She was the CEO of girl Boston, so
she knew how to like structure this. So we started
planning Female Founder's Day, which ended up being in March
of twenty nineteen. So all of our focus went to, like,
all right, community you're in and our first big kickoff

(33:05):
is going to be in March, and we're going to
have a day where it's not a bunch of women
just talking on panels because you can get that from anyone,
but we're going to have vetted experts giving you ninety
minute workshops on whatever topic is your pain point, and
so we kind of have you know, we had our
hero keynotes, and then the day was like, let's pick
your poison, and so after that then we said, okay,

(33:25):
our next event is this, and then we were able
to have enough kind of community events and then online
events that that was kind of how we started.

Speaker 3 (33:34):
Rebecca spent most of her time building female Founder collective,
letting her eponymous brand run without her until it couldn't
any longer.

Speaker 2 (33:45):
Things within the business shifted. I got rid of the
two ladies. The business needed me really back, and so
I by that time, I had a CEO, co founder,
I had a head of operations, and so I was like,
all right, I'm going to be focusing my attention back
into my company again. I felt like it was at
a space where when Ali and I came together, she

(34:05):
was like, I really want to be the CEO and
I really want to run this day to day, Like
what part do you want in it? Because it won't
work if we both want to do that. And I
was like, great, I want to help with high level
strategy goals, pull in big contacts, and like use my
network to really amplify this. But I don't want to

(34:26):
be in the day today of managing the daily task.
I already have this other job. So I think for
me it worked out that I could then turn my
attention back to Rebecca mink Off and still be involved,
but not on the nitty gritty.

Speaker 3 (34:41):
Yeah, like putting the right team together in each place
for you to be at your best and highest use
in both correct. So, what was one point where at
the time you were like, Okay, this is really terrible.
This is like a low point for me, and now
in retrospect you see it as having really set you
up for the success that you have now.

Speaker 2 (34:59):
I think the low point was that day that I
got back that she said that to me, and that
that person and her and let's say there was a
total of three were there for let's say nine months,
and feeling like I was a complete and total stranger
in my own company with no power, And people say,

(35:22):
but this was your company, Like how did you have
no power? And I'm like, at a certain point, you
have a board, you have you know. My brother was
aligned with them because he thought that they knew what
they were doing, and so I would be like, well
listen to me, you know, and like one day I
found out that the speak had changed. It was like
we're loving this, and I was like, no, the caption

(35:44):
is from me to the customer, it's not we, and
they're like, well she said to change it. I'd be
like I'm erased. And that was the worst time in
my life. And what I have trouble rectifying is that
awful woman inspired things that bring me joy? How did

(36:04):
that awfulness from that? I got these two things, my
podcast and female Founder Collective, And so sometimes I'm like,
I hate you, but thank you. You know, it's a
very weird feeling.

Speaker 3 (36:16):
Yeah, No, I mean I think it's like the whole
premise of this entire show that like, at the time,
you think, oh my god, it can't get any worse
than this, And I feel like you kind of need
to get to like a real low in order for
your perspective to shift, because just as human beings, we
just we don't change drastically without being forced to. Like

(36:37):
it is not on our nature, yeah for sure, but
it does give birth something totally. Now, thank you so
much for joining us. I really feel like this has
gone by in one second.

Speaker 2 (36:45):
I could talk to you all day long, and thanks
for having me.

Speaker 3 (36:50):
Rebecca continues to juggle it all as a mom of four,
running her Rebecca Minkoff label while continuing to prioritize empowering
women through the Female Founder Collective. If you're not already,
head over to her podcast Superwoman and subscribe. I'm biased,
but I think our episode together on Superwoman is one
of the best. Be sure to follow Rebecca on Instagram,

(37:13):
TikTok and Twitter at Rebecca Minkoff. Thanks for listening. Thanks
for listening to this episode of she Pivots. If you
made it this far, you're a true pivoter, so thanks
for being part of this community. I hope you enjoyed
this episode, and if you did leave us a rating,
please be nice. Tell your friends about us. To learn

(37:35):
more about our guests, follow us on Instagram at she
Pivots the Podcast, or sign up for our newsletter where
you can get exclusive behind the scenes content, or on
our website she Pivots the Podcast Talk to You Next Week.
Special thanks to the she Pivots team, Executive producer Emily
eda Velosik, Associate producer and social media connoisseur Hannah Cousins,

(37:57):
research director Christine Dickinson, a ben Some Logistics coordinator Madeline Snovac,
and audio editor and mixer Nina pollock I.

Speaker 2 (38:06):
Endorse cheap pivots,
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