Tory Burch: 'Businesses can do well by doing good'

Tory Burch to women: 'embrace ambition'
Tory Burch to women: 'embrace ambition'

Tory Burch's journey from stay-at-home mom to billionaire fashion executive took years. But once she was thrust into the spotlight, it pretty much happened overnight.

The designer first launched her fashion label at a New York City boutique in 2004, but it wasn't until 2010 that her namesake brand truly took off. That's when Oprah Winfrey listed Burch's Reva ballet flats on her annual Favorite Things list. The next day, Burch's website received eight million hits.

Today, Tory Burch LLC boasts more than 200 boutiques around the world.

Burch hopes to help other women entrepreneurs achieve their goals, too. In 2009, she founded the Tory Burch Foundation, which provides access to capital, education and resources.

CNNMoney asked Burch to talk about the inspiration for her fashion label and what she's learned along the way.

I got my big idea for Tory Burch ...

While I was taking some time off from my career to be at home with my family — I had three boys under the age of four.

It was a pretty simple concept: beautiful clothing with a designer aesthetic that didn't cost a fortune. I knew what was missing from my closet and thought other women might be missing the same things.

The scariest part of my job is ...

The macro environment. The world is changing at light speed, particularly with technology. It's exciting but definitely challenging for anyone running a global business today. You have to be clear eyed, nimble and always evolving.

tory burch vanity fair
Tory Burch attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

If I could tell my 18-year-old self one thing, it would be ...

You will not be the same person at 18 that you will be at 28, 38 or 48 ... and that's a positive. Intellectual curiosity is essential. Always evolve while staying true to your core ideals and values.

The thing that brings me the most joy is ...

My family. Life with three teenage boys definitely keeps things interesting. There is nothing I love more than spending time with them.

Tory Burch: We need to talk about ambition

If I could have dinner with any influential figure from any time period, it would be with ...

Eleanor Roosevelt. She was incredibly forward-thinking and always had something interesting to say — and she said it with such eloquence and conviction. The conversation would certainly be inspiring.

I'd like to be remembered for ...

Making a difference through the Tory Burch Foundation, which empowers women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education and resources. I'm thrilled that our programs now have impact and scale, and excited to be building on the success of our global #EmbraceAmbition initiative to empower women and girls to own their power, drive and dreams.

On April 24, we're hosting the first Embrace Ambition Summit: Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms at Lincoln Center, in New York City. If we confront the biases and stereotypes that hold people back, we can create new norms that benefit all of us, regardless of gender.

The thing you probably don't know about me is ...

I love a harmless prank. When the head of our PR department joined our company, I told her one of her first initiatives would be to help trick the team and tell them that I'd be joining the cast of "Dancing with the Stars." She convinced the design team that they would have to start designing costumes.

The look on everyone's faces when they realized she was kidding was wonderful and instantly brought the team together.

If I weren't a CEO and designer ...

I'd be working in philanthropy because social responsibility is something I care passionately about. I started our company because I wanted to start a foundation for women and it's exciting to see that more and more companies now recognize the connection between performance and purpose. Businesses can do well by doing good.

Tory Burch: From stay-at-home mom to self-made billionaire

tory burch speaking
Tory Burch accepts an award onstage at 2016 Fashion Group International Night Of Stars Gala.

The best piece of advice I've ever received is ...

From my parents. They told me to think of negativity as noise. It's great advice that I now tell my children as well as the entrepreneurs we work with through our foundation.

My advice to people searching for their big idea is ...

Look within. Think about your passions and what you might be missing. Being an entrepreneur isn't just about starting a company. It's a state of mind.

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