1. How do you approach enacting change – either small or large?
Philanthropy is at the heart of the Rachel Roy brand, and through my Kindness Is Always Fashionable initiative, artisans in developing countries can showcase their work and depend on sustainable employment that helps improve their lives and the communities around them.
I believe that when you give women opportunities, paired with their individual talents, it opens them up to hope, dream, learn, and grow. Dreams lead to learning. Learning leads to motivation. Motivation leads to DOING. And doing – whether it’s pursuing an education or opening a business – leads to lives changing, which changes the course of history.
2. How do you keep from getting discouraged when change doesn’t happen fast enough?
We all have those moments when we feel like our voice isn’t that heard, but starting small builds confidence and instills lessons along the way needed to maintain the work. Those actions, both small and large, accumulate to build a voice and a platform in which to empower others, ensure that all voices are heard and to provide opportunities. Kindness is Always Fashionable started slowly yet consistently and steadily, and has grown into larger scale projects where we’ve donated 200,000 meals to Indian school children and helped artisan earthquake victims in Haiti recover through sale of their crafts. Kindness Is Always Fashionable is one of the initiatives I’m the most proud of in my career. It illustrates to my daughters that it’s within you to create opportunities and enact change through the resources that are in front of you.
3. What do you hope to accomplish as a new UN Champion for Innovation?
I started my company on the premise of giving women a voice that empowers them to cultivate change in the world. The opportunity to continue use my voice & platform to help teach, create, and ignite change is something that is extremely important to me.
Innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship are critical & crucial to increasing gender equality & empowerment for women. They are three powerful pillars that can truly change the world. By encouraging girls & women to embrace these pillars as early and as young as possible, the impact is limitless.
4. How do you talk to your daughters about activism & being a change agent? What have you learned from them on the topic?
My Kindness is Always Fashionable initiative started when Pakistan had a horrific flood about 10 years ago. My daughter, Ava, who is 18 now was a little girl at the time, and I wanted to show her what was happening in other parts of the world. She looked at the news and looked at me and she said, “What are you going to do about it?” It was very innocent – your child sees something awful, and she wants to know, What’s mom going to do?
At the time, I wasn’t doing anything about it so I contacted everyone in my phone who I considered an “influencer” at that point in time, and I asked if I could have their signature for a bag to benefit the children of Pakistan. We collected everyone’s signature from Oprah to the CEO of Bergdorf Goodman and created a tote to benefit the children of Pakistan which went beyond political left and right views straight to the heartbeat of what really mattered - support for the children.
I try to teach by doing, what I have learned along the way is that the more you care and love yourself, the more you can care and love others with a strength that is unstoppable.