Tory Burch on Why Supporting Small Business Is More Important Than Ever

Tory burch

The fashion mogul and philanthropist on how to help

Tory Burch may be best known for the iconic logo that graces her fashion brand’s shoes, clothes and handbags. But with all of her success, she gained an understanding of the unique challenges women face in business. That’s why in 2009, she started the Tory Burch Foundation, which invests in the success and sustainability of women-owned small businesses.

At a time when businesses big and small are struggling to stay afloat, Tory spoke with Wake-Up Call (subscribe to our newsletter here!) to share why the work her foundation is doing is more important than ever — and how we can all support small businesses right now.

Wake Up Call: So many of us are working from home during these unprecedented times. How is working from home treating you? Have you developed any WFH productivity tricks?

Tory Burch: I feel fortunate that I am able to work from home right now. So many people have been displaced or are working on the front lines, it inspires me every day. It is hard to have a routine when each day is so vastly different and presents a whole new set of challenges. I try to set aside time for a quick lunch or a bike ride with my son. It clears my mind and I am grateful for the family time.

The coronavirus has had such a major impact on all aspects of our lives — personal and professional. Can you share how you’ve been dealing with this huge global shift?

It is hard to contemplate how much the world has changed in the last couple of months. I try to manage my stress and anxiety by thinking about a few things; first, I have a great deal of faith in humanity. Witnessing people risk their lives to help others day-in and day-out is remarkable beyond words. Second, I think about how we will prevail. Our future may look different than we expected, but we will get through this crisis. And third, I am truly lucky to have an extraordinary team that is agile and has shown me that running a business virtually is possible.

The Tory Burch Foundation provides access to capital, education and digital resources to female entrepreneurs… which are resources that a lot of small businesses really need right now. What inspired you to start the foundation?

Starting a foundation for women was part of my business plan in 2004. We launched the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to help women entrepreneurs in the United States. Women start businesses at the same rate as men, but have far less access to capital. In fact, only two percent of venture capital in this country goes to women founders.

As soon as the Coronavirus Stimulus Package was created, our Foundation team pivoted to help women business owners navigate the federal stimulus bill so they can access funds that are available. Our Foundation website has various guides available to small businesses — everything from links to private loan programs to step-by-step guides on how to apply for government relief. We also hosted a free webinar in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce on accessing the federal stimulus.

You currently support women-led companies that make everything from tea to baking ingredients to weighted blankets. Are there any of these products that you use on a day to day basis?

Yes! But right now, many of our entrepreneurs have also pivoted. I am incredibly proud of and not surprised by how our Tory Burch Foundation entrepreneurs have responded to this crisis — some are making masks and I’m using the hand sanitizer by Dr. Brite, a dental hygiene company founded by a Tory Burch Fellow, Dr. Paris Sabo.

What do you see as the biggest challenge that retailers are going to face in the coming months because of this pandemic?

I am not sure where to begin as there are many… The impact of this crisis is so profound that I think the way we all think about everything will be seriously different. Retail will change and evolve after the crisis is over, but I do think people will want to go into stores again. One thing that is interesting is that we were already rethinking many aspects of our company: investing more digitally and in e-commerce, the retail experience, seasonality of product, a different kind of presentation rather than a formal fashion show, etc. We have been editing across the board, embracing a less-is-more ethos in recent seasons — less product, and product with more integrity. We want to create things that will last and always be timeless.

What can the average consumer do to support small businesses right now? Are there any actions we can take from home to do our part?

There are so many ways to support small businesses in your community. You can buy gift cards, order online, write reviews and share their products on your social media channels. These are all things that will help.

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