Vera Wang
CEO, Vera Wang Group

Executive summary: Get away from the routine.

My bedroom is my sanctuary. It's like a refuge, and it's where I do a fair amount of designing -- at least conceptually, if not literally. I spread out on my side of the bed, and I may be looking at books to get ideas, or just thinking things through.

Staffers send me stuff at home, and I always read it at night -- the only time when seven people aren't coming to me at once. I'm able to think in a more peaceful way than when I'm in my normal routine. My normal routine is pretty much putting out fires all day in my office.

It's hard to juggle being a businessperson with being a creative person. You have to organize yourself -- PR needs me for PR, and the licensing division needs me for licensing, the bridal people need me for bridal. I prioritize by going to the next collection that's due. And as the collections get bigger, it gets more challenging.

I hate phones. All businesses are personal businesses, and I always try my best to get back to people, but sometimes the barrage of calls is so enormous that if I just answered calls I would do nothing else. I ask my assistant, P.J., to find out if someone needs an answer in three minutes -- or can they wait two days, or can we make a date for when I get back to them? Now, if I were to go near e-mail, there would be even more obligations, and I would be in Bellevue with a white jacket on.

My staff is always able to reach me. As an owner I am always accessible. That's the big difference. I am the CEO, not the COO, but at times I've still had to be partial COO to fix all the myriad things that can go wrong: calm dissatisfied clients, handle employees who want to leave, or renegotiate. These things are very hard to manage in addition to being creative. And that is the challenge of owning a creative business.

-- Interviewed by Jia Lynn Yang
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