Rebecca Minkoff started her own business at 21 in 2005 and miraculously made it work with her first attempt. Over the past decade, her eponymous fashion brand has gained countless fans around the world and become a staple for stylish, modern women.
The designer leads an incredibly full life. Aside from running the day-to-day business at Rebecca Minkoff with her brother, Uri Minkoff, she’s also managing a side hustle called the Female Founder Collective, a women-focused entrepreneur social network launched last year, while taking care of three young children at home.
Earlier this month, Observer sat down with Rebecca Minkoff backstage at the Riveter Summit in New York City and chatted about how she manages time between work and life, her favorite items in her latest design lines and the oxymoronic-sounding concept of “accessible luxury,” under which the brand Rebecca Minkoff is often characterized.
I’m going to start with handbags, because that’s often the first thing that comes to mind when people talk about Rebecca Minkoff. Your brand has many iconic designs. Which ones are actually designed by you?
I mean, it would be impossible for me to design all my bags. Obviously, when I first started my company, it was just me, so the “Morning After Bag” and the MAC clutch are designed by me. But as we grew, I hired a design team, which I work very closely with today.
Which ones are your personal favorites?
That feels like asking me which child I like the most [laugh]. Our latest launch is the “Love Too,” which is a crossbody bag that I think is really beautiful. So she’s my favorite lately.
Your clothing and handbags are particularly popular among millennial women. Do you have sort of an ideal image of millennial women? What does she look like to you?
I think the most beautiful part about an “ideal millennial woman” is that she doesn’t look like someone to me. I can tell you her psychographic, not her look.
I think she wants to be recognized for her style, not for a plate on some big, expensive bag she’s purchased. She wants fashion pieces that are multi-functional and can go along with her fast-paced life. And she usually purchases handbags at peak life moments—whether it’s graduation, the first job, the promotion or the first date. All the key moments modern women tend to have, you know?
That segues into my next question. Most Rebecca Minkoff products are priced at a range typically known as the “accessible luxury” segment, which sounds quite self-contradictory on its own. What do you think of that term? Is it real?
Yeah, I think it’s definitely real. I think the demand is being fueled by the fact that true luxury, priced at north of a $1,000 in most cases, is a lot in most parts of the world.
I believe that women aspire to have something that is well made and have a strong brand that ties into some of her values and beliefs. A price point between $200 and $400, at most, is what most women can afford. It might be a little bit of a stretch, but she can still pay her rent and eat and, at the same time, have a beautiful bag that won’t fall apart in a week.
You have a lot going on in your life. Aside from your day job at Rebecca Minkoff, you’re also getting things moving at the Female Founder Collective while taking care of three young children at home. How do you manage your time to achieve a “work-life balance,” whatever that means to you?
I have been saying a lot that the term [“work-life balance”] should never be thrown around or marketed to us, because it never existed, even to men. If you go back to the time before women entered the workforce, men never had that kind of balance anyway. So, whoever thought that should be the norm? It’s like saying we all get to marry a prince and become a princess.
I have a partner who is willing to be an equal to me. When we decided to have kids, there was no “this is my role, this is your role” type of agreement. We are both 100% invested in our lives and share all the duties. I get up at 7:15 in the morning, and I get the kids ready. One of us takes them to school, and the other stays at home with the baby. Then, I go to work, and I leave the office at 6:00 p.m. on the dot every night .
That doesn’t sound too bad, actually. I thought to be successful you have to get up at 4:00 a.m. every day.
No [laugh]. If you want to suffer from lack of sleep and die young, then sure, get up at 4:00. But I can’t. I have a 21-month-old, and I’m still nursing him. So I need to sleep for eight hours. So yeah, it’s possible.