Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The One Time I Met Tory Burch #CORYANDTORY

As I'm slowly making my way through recapping the whirlwind of events I attended during my 3rd trimester, I'm realizing how epic it really was! I nearly forgot that I met Tory Burch ya'll - crazy right?! Here's how it went down . . . 

About a week before the actual event a fellow Wellesley alum friend who works with U.S. Senator Cory Booker posted this listing on Facebook:

Seeing how soon the date was I thought, "Oh this must be full, but I'll give RSVPing a try anyway!" I logged onto Eventbrite and surprisingly, there were still openings so I signed right up. I mentioned it in passing a few days later to my sister Ariane, and she was a bit annoyed that I hadn't invited her. I let her know it was a NJ-business-centric event and didn't think she would be interested seeing how she's all "Miss Manhattan" and all. She's not really like that (!), but anyway, she was definitely interested. When Ariane tried to sign up it was sold out however a spot opened up last minute and she was able to join me. Hooray for sister power!

Ariane grabs a quick bite - it was so quick, it was blurry! Just keepin' it real!
The "fireside chat" event was held at Liberty House (quick fact: ran by a female entrepreneur!). It was a gorgeous, sun-filled room with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline - I would've loved to get pictures of the view, but the sun rising over the skyline just wouldn't allow it. Still the spot is definitely etched in my memory as one to visit with Mr. Lovebird. It was my first time there, and it's quite romantic! A networking breakfast was also provided, but with Nia in preschool and drop-off at 8:30 I couldn't get there early enough so Ariane and I grabbed a quick bite and took our seats.  

{Image Credit: Leading Women Entrepreneurs}
In the hour-long chat Tory shared her start-up story: how she requested funds from about 200 potential investors (mostly friends and family) and created a 5-year plan launching in 2004 without a dime spent on traditional media - yes, it can be done!

As a mom, I was especially interested to hear how Tory handles mompreneurship and she explained that it's ALWAYS a struggle, but that family is first. She makes sure she is 100% present when she is with them and takes her sons to school herself daily.

{Image Credit: Leading Women Entrepreneurs}
I was thrilled to hear Tory and Senator Booker share their enthusiasm for social media. I still can't believe how hard some folks diss it, but I'm also a firm believer. Of course there is foolishness on there, but as Senator Booker explained, if you have 200+ followers, you have influence beyond measure. Tory explained how becoming an early adopter of social media helped lead to her success especially without a marketing budget. In fact, she handles her own Instagram and Twitter accounts personally!

The biggest challenges Tory sees when it comes to female entrepreneurship is 1) access to capital and 2) mentorship. Because of this she created the Elizabeth Street Capital initiative (the name was derived from her 1st store location) partnering with Bank of America to provide $10 million towards low cost loans. She encouraged the audience to apply to the program which has basic criteria of a great idea and a sound plan. 

After the event, I knew the attendees would bum rush the front to get pictures and was surprised to see how gracious Tory was to take them. I cautiously made my way to the front with my large belly and a few ladies literally carved a path to Tory for me, and I was able to chat with her quickly and get a quick picture with her and my sister:

I was surprised when Tory asked me the name of the baby (kinda how Dr. Oz did)! I stumbled a moment and explained that my sister didn't even know it yet, and it was still under wraps. 

Overall, the event was a great kick-off for me and my sister as well as we're in the works on a special sister-business project along with our other sister Lauren. It's been a bit of a slow start, but we're confident in the direction we're headed, and it was such an inspiration to be able to hear directly from Tory about how she built her business. It was just the encouragement we needed!

Are you a Tory Burch fan? If you're a mompreneur, who inspires you?