New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff started her business 14 years ago producing contemporary leather handbags. She has since expanded her collections and now creates clothing as well as a full range of accessories, including watches, footwear and belts. Her reach has become global. Just before coming to Denver for the Spring Brass Ring luncheon and fashion show to benefit Children’s Diabetes Foundation, where $338,000 was raised, she was in Asia to attend the opening of two pop-up shops in Japan and a new store in Seoul, South Korea.
She sat down with us the day before the Denver fashion show for a Q&A where she shared her thoughts on a wide range of topics, from fashion to female empowerment.
What inspired your spring collection?
I came across this coffee table book on Ibiza with a bright pink cover and discovered the optimism at the height of the love movement that I wanted to tap into. Artists and musicians found inspiration and relaxation on the island. The collection celebrates the strengths of a woman. She can be soft but strong, expressed in dresses with big shoulders, and graphic prints worked into layered dresses.
Does travel often influence your work?
My phone is filled with pictures I take, often of food, or details I find when I travel abroad. New places and cultures. I have this app that turns a picture into a Pantone color so I use that for reference.
You started out in handbags and have a huge fan base for them. What continues to appeal to you about designing bags, shoes and accessories?
Accessories are the exclamation point to an outfit. They also always fit. You can gain or lose weight and your purse doesn’t have to change size.
I’ve been reading about your recent work promoting women in business, such as establishing the Female Founder Collective and your weekly podcast interviewing women entrepreneurs. How did those come about?
We were planning a series of workshops to take place during Fashion Week and I asked for a list of companies segmented by ones with female founders. It turned out the tool didn’t exist, so we created it. There are now 4,000 companies that have joined (find them at femalefoundercollective.com), with more being added all the time. Our mission is to enable and empower female-owned and led businesses to positively impact our communities, both socially and economically. One of the nicest things is how they are connecting and supporting each other.
The same is happening with the podcast. I wanted it to be fireside chats with women who have achieved something. I’m not trying to be Guy Raz; just creating a space for them to tell their stories.
What is the story behind your #IamMany campaign?
It’s acknowledging we all play many roles: sister, writer, daughter, mother. And when we come together, anything is possible.
How do you juggle your many fashion collections, your efforts with the collective as well as marriage and being a mother of three kids (age 7, 4 and 1)?
I’m feeling very guilty right now about traveling so much, but on a normal week, I leave the office at 6 p.m. with no problem. And I don’t feel like I have to answer emails on the weekend. I’m in the fashion business; I’m not curing cancer. I also couldn’t do it without my team; they are great. I believe in hiring people and paying them to do a good job. You shouldn’t hire anybody who can’t do as good a job as you do.
One more: what three items are a sure-fire way to freshen your wardrobe for spring?
I’m loving the Kate Circle bag, which you can wear as a crossbody or on your shoulder. I also love a clear bag, like our fan-shaped tote bag. The Amandine Sandal has a heel but is really comfortable. My new favorite pants are the Caleigh, which are cropped at the ankle and sit high on the waist.
Suzanne S. Brown is a contributing editor to Colorado Expression and the former fashion of The Denver Post.
Photography by Jensen Sutta
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