Rebecca Minkoff started a business with $10,000 and a taste for risk

Rebecca Minkoff, who spent 20 years building her business, is hopeful about her post-pandemic future.

Source: Rebecca Minkoff

When Rebecca Minkoff landed in New York at 18, she had some money saved and big dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

“I had $10,000 in savings from babysitting, bat mitzvah money that I’d never touched, some bonds that I was given,” said Minkoff, co-founder and creative director of her eponymous fashion line.

She blew it all on the material for her first clothing line and expensive look-books, which showed off the line’s look. Only one store called her.

“You never forget that first moment where you’re terrified,” Minkoff said. “That’s all you have.

“That’s your cushion — and then it’s gone.”

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She didn’t let it crush her. Instead, the fashion designer repurposed the fabric and made things that the two boutiques selling her clothing committed to taking on consignment.

“Then I would hand make these post cards,” recalled Minkoff, who chronicles her success and imparts advice in “Fearless,” her new book. “I’d go to Union Square and I’d be like, ‘New designer, up and coming designer, please go see her.’

“I would drive people to these stores so that they could purchase those goods,” she said.

Risk-taking has always been a part of Minkoff’s DNA. She moved to New York instead of going to college, and started her business after being fired from her first fashion job.

Rebecca Minkoff has made a point of talking directly to her customers.

Source: Rebecca Minkoff

She also was in touch with her consumer early on, despite being told it would damage her business.

“We actually had meetings with every single incredible department store that exists that we were selling to, and also some very powerful [fashion publication] editors-in-chief that said, ‘If you continue to talk to your customer, we just don’t think we can carry you or cover this brand, you are dirtying yourself,'” Minkoff said.

“We were willing to take the risk,” she added.

It paid off — customers were drawn to her in-person events, and retailers stuck with her.

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