Tory Burch's Secrets To Success — And Smelling Great

Have you ever wondered — amongst all of this noise about "lean in," "opt out," and "having it all"— if there are any women who have actually made it all work and come out on the other end to tell the tale? Well, only Tory Burch herself could say whether she feels that she "has it all" — but, when it comes to knowing what makes other women happy, the designer seems to have that all figured out.
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Take, for instance, Burch's three-part beauty launch, debuting today, which includes her first fragrance, scented body products (including a candle), and a tightly edited capsule collection of color cosmetics. The result of a conversation that began between Burch and the Estée Lauder Cos. over five years ago, the products are luxurious, beautiful, and totally Tory — meaning that women everywhere will likely be unable to resist them.
We sat down with the designer to discuss everything from Burch's minimalist beauty philosophy to her secrets to success — read on to learn how the petite powerhouse gets it done, with style.
This fragrance has a really beautiful balance of floral and citrus notes — often, it seems that a fragrance is either citrus- or floral-based, but this perfume makes those notes play together perfectly.
"That’s the thing, we wanted it to be feminine and masculine — we thought, 'How do we do a tomboy fragrance that's also feminine?' My dad wore a vetiver-based scent, and I loved the note, too. So, I thought it would be really interesting to take the concept of a men’s fragrance as sort of the base, but then make it fresh and wearable. So, I added that feminine, floral element — and that was the beginning of a two-year blending process."
How did you decide to launch all three beauty categories at the same time? Not many designers do that — and certainly not all at once.
"It’s funny, because it didn’t occur to me not to [launch everything simultaneously] — my first boutique was really built around this idea of lifestyle, not just fashion, so it was sort of like, 'How do we look at beauty that way?' And, fragrance is obviously going to be the pillar of that.
"When I think of beauty, I think of the idea of less is more — and I think about how women can speed up and simplify their morning routines. I look at fashion that way, and I look at beauty that way. I always went out with a lipstick and used it as blush, because I never wanted to carry a lot of things."
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The lipstick is beautiful — it's a great color, and we love the name [Pas du Tout]!
"My father always had this expression in French: 'Je t’aime beaucoup...pas du tu' — 'I love you, but not really!' We have great names for products that will be coming soon — I think I stayed up with my brothers, one of whom is the co-president of my company, until two in the morning naming them."
So, the plan is to do more with the color cosmetics?
"It is, eventually. We have definitive plans, but we wanted to launch with the capsule collection first. We also have a solid perfume pendant coming out — it's wood with the signature brass fretwork, with a solid perfume inside. It’s fun, because it’s very old-fashioned, and it reminds me of something my grandmother would have had.
"That's something that I thought of when I was designing the bottle for the fragrance. When I was growing up, my mom had beautiful perfume atomizers and vintage bottles on her vanity. And this fretwork is actually designed to evoke the railing in our Madison Avenue store, and the brass and orange combination reflects other elements of the brand. So we took all of these elements and created something that's clean, sleek, and modern — it's something you’d want to have on your vanity."
You've spoken before about your love for a pared-down beauty routine — has your approach to beauty always been this way?
"If not more! As a teenager, I was such a tomboy — I was always just interested in sports, and not really paying attention to the way I looked. But, I do love products and I love going to Sephora to buy products and try new things. I do think that less is more — I also think it can be aging when you overdo it [with makeup]."
What’s the best beauty advice you ever received, and from whom?
"My mom always told me to stay out of the sun — and that wasn’t necessarily her generation, because she was a sun worshipper. She loved the sun. I wear a tinted moisturizer, which I think is great because it has sunblock in it. I love sports, I’m always outside, so I'm constantly reapplying."
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You’ve created this incredible brand over the course of ten years, and your business has been evolving so impressively. Do you have any advice for women who'd like to start their own businesses — what have been your keys to success?
"Oh, we actually have a foundation for that — for helping women in business! One of the reasons I started the company was so that I could start a foundation to help women, through mentorship and entrepreneurial education.
"I think one really important thing is to find your passion, and have a very unique vision — don't do what someone else is already doing! Think about what you’re personally missing. That was the genesis of my company. It was about what I was personally missing, which was great, beautifully made and designed clothing that didn’t cost a fortune — like the perfect pair of cigarette pants, or a great peacoat.
"But, know that [running a start-up is] going to be a tremendous amount of work. And, if you’re a woman, you face different challenges, especially if you’re a mother. So, you have to find a balance that works for you and your family. And, at the same time, you have to have the energy to inspire and lead your team. It’s a balancing act, but I think its doable!"
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