In Case You Didn’t Notice, Nicole Richie Is A Mogul Now

Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFA/REX.
Nicole Richie has been making us laugh since her days on The Simple Life. But since the show's end in 2007, the former reality star has quietly been building her own inspirational brand as a fashion designer, television comedian, mother, and wife. Now the 35-year-old is gearing up for her second annual Pearl xChange event, a day-long motivation-fest that connects bad-ass women and encourages them to dream bigger, support one another, and take care of themselves. This year's conference will feature keynote speaker (and Richie's sister-in-law) Cameron Diaz, as well as talks from WhoWhatWear Founder Katherine Power, Blackish actress Yara Shahidi, filmmaker Amy Ziering, and more. We talked to Richie, who co-founded Pearl xChange last year with producer and talent executive Ramey Warren, about her hopes for the event, when she feels most empowered, and who's getting her vote this election.

We love the idea of a day dedicated to women coming together to uplift one another and feel empowered. How did your own personal experiences inspire you to come up with this event?
“I go to conferences like this all the time. I go to [spiritual teacher and author] Marianne Williamson lectures and when [motivational speaker] Esther Hicks is in town, I don’t miss an opportunity to hear her speak. There would be moments when I was there where I'd think to myself, I wonder if I had had this information ten years ago, if I would have taken it in the way that I’m taking it in now. The answer is: No! I was young and my brain was working in a different way, so this conference is aimed at millennials, women like me back then who need this guidance. We’re really focused on having women understand that collaborating with other people is so important. I've realized that whether it’s in your business or your life or your friendships, surrounding yourself with like-minded people can only get you so far. It’s really by collaborating with people that are different than you — that have strengths where you have weaknesses — that will help you evolve and grow and learn.”

"It’s a big message that I tell my customers when I’m designing: You have to dress for you."

Nicole Richie
Who are some of the women in your life that help you grow?
“Two of my girlfriends, who are speaking at this year’s conference: Katherine Power who started WhoWhatWear and Sophia Rossi, who founded HelloGiggles. Not only is it just so inspiring for me to watch these two powerhouse women build this insane business in areas that I know nothing about...but also to see how their knowledge and my knowledge can overlap at times and how we can rely on each other. They also happen to be best friends and they kind of do similar things, but instead of being in competition with each other they have done nothing but help each other throughout their entire careers. It’s so cool for me to sit and watch that from the sidelines.”

Where does the name Pearl xChange come from?
“I call the girls in my life the 'pearls' of my life. It's this idea of pearls of wisdom, a pearl on its own is beautiful, but it’s only when it becomes a strand that it becomes more and more valuable. That’s how I think we as women should look at each other.”'

This is your second year doing this event. What's been one of your favorite Pearl xChange stories so far?
“Marianne Williamson spoke last year about how we need to look at ourselves and say 'What do I have to offer, how can I help?' From that, my girlfriend Erin Foster was at the conference, and she had just seen this documentary called The Hunting Ground about college campuses and rape. She thought, 'You know, this doesn’t have anything to do with me but it was this movie that I’m so inspired by, maybe I can screen it for my girlfriends and just help get the word out.' I saw the film and was so moved and loved the director so much, her name is Amy Ziering, and she's now one of my speakers for the conference this year. It’s one of my favorite stories because without Erin being at the conference and introducing me to Amy, I wouldn’t have even met her, and so you know when you are opening yourself up to that kind of vibration you don’t know what the world is going to bring you or who you’re going to meet.”

Have there been any lessons from the conference that you've wanted to teach your own daughter or son?
“Last year, every time I wasn’t speaking I sat and listened to all the speakers and each one of them had a gem that I [wrote] down and brought home with me. It was to not only incorporate these ideas into my motherhood, but also just my life. I think as a mother, it’s less about what you say to kids and more about what you do. Teaching your children is definitely more about your actions.”

"As a mother, it’s less about what you say to kids and more about what you do."

Nicole Richie

Heading up a women's empowerment conference probably makes most people assume you're a feminist. Are you?
“Yes, yes. Absolutely. There’s a lot of different versions of that title, and I’m not one to lock myself into a title, but that's one word I’m not mad at at all.”

You are someone who’s known for always changing her fashion and beauty looks. How does your physical self-expression empower you?
“When I was 14 there was one girl who wore a lot of makeup, and I remember we all were like ‘Oh my god, she’s wearing makeup, so we have to wear makeup.' Every girl goes through that of course, but it’s a big message that I tell my customers when I’m designing: You have to dress for you. It’s important to not follow trends and instead, wear what feels comfortable to you. You can use fashion as a form of self-expression and have a lot of fun with it, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. For me I need to be comfortable all the time, so I’m not wearing the seven-inch heels all day long, or the mini skirt because it’s cute. I need to be able to run around, to dance if I want to. I have things that are important to me, so I just dress around that." When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
"When I'm home. We entertain a lot, so I feel my best when my girlfriends are over and I'm in my Free City sweats. And I'm not in formal hostess mode, but I am usually cooking. My friends are very casual so it’s not like I need to set some sort of mood. It's very, very chill! Now that it's fall, I'm looking forward to trying this brussels sprouts, bacon, and dates recipe on my girlfriends. "

So lastly, speaking of girlfriends, empowerment, and women, I have to ask: Who are you voting for on November 8?
"I'm voting for Hillary, obviously. I'll leave it at that!"

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