News & Runway

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Tory Burch

Tory Burch RF14 0494

Image: Imaxtree

From ballet flats to a lifestyle empire, Tory Burch is the CEO and designer of one of the world’s most recognizable and fastest-growing brands. Despite often being photographed at social events, she’s a relatively private person. Aside from the drawn-out tensions between her and her ex-husband/former business partner Chris Burch and her affinity for far-flung travel, there isn’t too much the general public knows about her. Here’s a look at 10 interesting tidbits about the savvy designer and businesswoman you probably didn’t know.

  1. Burch has the image that everything was handed to her on a silver platter, but the designer claims that she started her business by cold calling people and that the whole process was nerve-racking. “I’d never been to business school. I’d never been to design school. It was a risk. It was putting myself out there in a way that was opening myself up for criticism. I’m a sensitive person, so it was hard.” Of course, having her now ex-husband help her raise $10 million and the fact that the couple put in $2 million of their own money surely didn’t hurt to get her brand off the ground.
  2. When speaking with Women’s Wear Daily about the Burch versus Burch case (the dispute over Chris Burch wanting to sell his entire stake in the Tory Burch company), the designer’s trial judge called the case a “drunken WASP fest.” Adding that “honestly, there are hundreds of people in New Castle County who could make a bunch of clothes if you gave them the catalogs.”
  3. The day after Oprah featured Burch’s signature flats in her annual Favorite Things episode, Burch’s website had 8 million hits.
  4. Burch is a billionaire. Her stake in the Tory Burch brand, 28.3 percent, is worth about $935 million and she’s received more than $70 million from equity sales and dividends in the past decade. After settling the messy feud with her former husband, he was left with a 15 percent stake in the company.
  5. Not everything Burch touches turns to gold. In the early stages of her brand’s growth, Burch designed onesies and kid-size tunics. “We were taking some of our adult styles and scaling them down, and we were having fun,” said Tory Burch President Brigitte Kleine. “But there are a lot of restrictions on kids, because of all the safety regulations. You really need a team that understands everything from the design to the merchandising to the production. We will go back into children’s one day.”
  6. Burch is Jewish, but was raised celebrating Christmas and Easter in Valley Forge where her parents owned a 250-year-old Georgian house and farm. This wasn’t any old shabby farm, however. Burch grew up in a well-to-do family and her mother, Reva Robinson, was a former actress, who “took Louis Vuitton trunks on her trips to Europe, and dated Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando in her youth.”
  7. The Reva ballerina flats, which thrust Burch into the spotlight, were named after the designer’s mother. More than 250,000 pairs sold in their first two years of production. By 2013, more than 5 million pairs were sold.
  8. Burch attributes having a positive mindset as being crucial to her success. “Negativity is noise,” she has said. She also warns future entrepreneurs that you need to “buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it. Setbacks are always going to be there—some of them even bigger than the challenge of launching a business in the first place—and it’s crucial to think of them as learning opportunities.”
  9. After spending $16 million on a seven-bedroom 1929 brick neo-Georgian home in Southampton, NY, Burch proceeded to completely overhaul the space. She added, among other things, a sunken tennis court, a basketball court and a new pool. The sprawling estate also boasts a ballroom and flower-arranging room.
  10. Burch’s favorite color is blue. “I love blue in all its shades and textures. I wear navy like others wear black, and I love the blue in flowers—cornflowers, delphiniums. There’s a Diebenkorn painting— Ocean Park No. 68 —that is the color of a swimming pool and always reminds me of summers at the beach.”