On January 11th, Rachel Roy sat down with IVY in Los Angeles to discuss her journey toward building a highly successful business, and all of the highs and lows in between. Here are 5 tips that Rachel shared for aspiring entrepreneurs:
1. Get Started!
The difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is the start, because a lot of people have great ideas, but not everyone acts on those great ideas. If you find yourself thinking, What do I need to start? When can I break away from my salary job and start working on my own passion? Just know that you have to be brave enough to jump and grow your wings on the way down. You’re never going to have wings before that - it just doesn’t work like that. That’s not how the universe is set up, and it’s not how we’re set up to succeed. There’s so much that is accomplished even in taking that first step to start.
2. Take Risks
You can do the exact opposite of what the experts recommend, and have it be a great success. In 2008, the economy wasn’t doing very well with retail, and I started a secondary collection. At that point, not a lot of other designers had secondary lines, so I didn’t have very much competition in the market at that price point. When I had to stop my designer line, I still had my secondary line, which has become very successful over the years and if I did not take the risk and launch during a recession I may not have a business now.
3. Protect Yourself
I worked as a licensing manager for seven years, and I learned that whatever you write in a contract is really all you have to protect you. Even if someone says that they have the same values as you, if you don’t put it into a contract, it’s probably not going to happen. With my first licensing deal, I put into the contract that I wanted to produce product by women in third world countries. It was very important to me to employ women who were seamstresses and who had a really hard time finding work. I wrote that into the contract so I would never have to have that uncomfortable talk with the people who are sustaining my business. I wouldn’t have to beg for it, because we had it in writing.
4. Take Control of Your Life
Instead of placing blame on your circumstances and on the people around you, you can take control and take ownership of your choices. Every day within every moment, you have a choice. As soon as it can click that we are in charge of our choices, we realize that we are in charge of our happiness. After all, the happiest people are the sexiest people.
5. Trust Your Gut
My proudest moment came when my first partners no longer wanted to fund my company, but they also didn’t want my company to exist. I could have done what other designers in my situation did – which was absolutely nothing – or I could fight. I went to many successful people in the fashion industry to ask for advice (including Anna Wintour and the president of the CFDA), and the majority told me not go through a lawsuit because I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Ultimately, I didn’t take their advice. They were right – it was horrible, but I went through it and I got my name back. Now for the designers that have creative control, there’s a law that prevents this from happening to any other designer in the future.