Designer Rebecca Minkoff challenges the widely accepted image of personal care: turmeric lattes, face masks in salt baths, aromatherapy and massages, as she puts it.
“Work can also be personal care,” she wrote in “Fearless,” a business advice book she wrote during the pandemic, published last month.
She is particularly resistant to the idea that self-care can solve burnout – the feeling of acute exhaustion that has gained more attention recently. “There is no scented candle in the world that will make this feeling go away.”
Minkoff’s authority on burnout and lattes comes from his work in fashion for two decades. In 2005, she founded her brand with her brother Uri Minkoff, after having designed a handbag called Morning After Bag. The popular backpack has become a staple in countless mid-age paparazzi photos hanging from the slender forearms of starlets who wore low-rise jeans and accessorized with Starbucks mugs.
Since then, Minkoff’s line has expanded from bohemian party girl accessories to a full collection of affordable clothing and footwear. It has maintained a constant presence in US department stores and has built a reputation for embracing new technology – putting futuristic twists on the runways (using drones or virtual reality, for example), selling clothing (before Apple Watch) and opening a smart store. . In 2019, before covid-19 rocked the fashion industry, the company said it had more than $ 100 million in retail sales.
But a few years ago, Minkoff found herself dreading returning to the office after maternity leave. People told her she was suffering from burnout (a “pseudo diagnosis,” she writes). Her solution: after a little introspection on where her passion really was, she plunged even further into her work.
“The times I’ve experienced burnout is when I hate what I’m doing,” Minkoff said in May in her office in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood near the Home Depot where she previously purchased equipment. in brass for the Morning After Bag.
This is how she created rule n ° 19 of her 21 rules “to unlock creativity, courage and success”, presented in “Fearless”: “Go beyond burnout”. Self-reflection cures burnout, she says, not self-care.
Minkoff’s stance won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading Rules 1-18, which tells how she built her business without any formal design education – moving to New York City from Florida after high school with no significant connections or financial support. from her parents – and how she handled the criticisms and apathy of the “elite fashion clique”, an amorphous but influential group of publishers, designers, buyers and executives in power in industry.
The owner of a popular showroom once gutted the Morning After Bag in a meeting with Minkoff. Owner Cynthia O’Connor told Minkoff it was the wrong size, made with the wrong materials, and the quality didn’t justify the $ 600 price tag. (“I literally tore her bag with my words,” said O’Connor, who admitted 15 years later that she could “be a little harsh” about handbags.)
Minkoff details these setbacks with humor and frankness. But one aspect of his life is not discussed: his membership in the Church of Scientology, which was based on another self-help book, “Dianetics” by L. Ron Hubbard.
Although she has never talked about it publicly before, Minkoff said she doesn’t hide her beliefs. “I am totally open,” she said. “But it’s not my job to proselytize.”
Over the years, she said, people have expressed the confusion that she identifies as Jewish and Scientologist.
“I think there is a lot of confusion when people hear the word ‘religion’ – you immediately hear me praying to L. Ron Hubbard,” she said. “I study it, I take classes and that’s it, and it helped me stay centered. I don’t have all the answers. When I needed someone, it was a place. where to go for answers. “
Like other prominent Scientologists – some, like actress Jenna Elfman, are mentioned in “Fearless” as Minkoff’s early supporters – the designer refers to what she believed to be “horrible disinformation” about the church and her belief system, which she considers “more of a philosophy of self-improvement.”
But his interest in self-improvement is also one of the reasons his book exists, with assurances such as: “Fear can be overcome. You have the power to act.”
THE PIVOT OF EMPOWERMENT
Over the years, Minkoff has embraced the world of entrepreneurship, gradually identifying herself more with a businesswoman than a fashionable woman – the kind of woman who permeates her “real conversation” in love vocabulary. school of business and “Girlboss”. aplomb.
She hosts “Superwomen,” a podcast of interviews with guests such as Jessica Alba and Barbara Corcoran, and in 2018, she co-founded a network of business owners called the Female Founder Collective. She once tried, without success, as she writes in her book, to create a label to mark products made by women, inspired by those who certify products cruelty-free or organic. In 2018, she also ran an ad campaign around women’s empowerment, featuring the organizers of the Women’s March, actress Zosia Mamet, former Fox News presenter Gretchen Carlson and, somewhat controversial at the time, Melissa DeRosa, one of the main collaborators of the governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. .
Minkoff is still the face of his brand; she models products on her Instagram and writes online marketing texts. (She took on this new role in the pandemic, after the company laid off half of its staff in March 2020.)
But other than planning the New York Fashion Week events, which she oversees fully, she isn’t much involved in day-to-day decision-making. Instead, Uri runs the company as CEO. And he shares the same sense of pride in how they survived the odds of being the neglected kids in the fashion cafeteria.
‘TEST OF FIRE’
“There were no publishers or stores lining up, shining on us like the next big ‘it’ thing. We had to go to the party and stay at the party because we were playing and because it ‘was a hit, “said Uri Minkoff, who has come the rage of the tech world, and who spices up the conversation with quotes from Marc Andreessen and” Animal Farm “. https://www.arkansasonline.com/ news / 2021 / jul / 04 / minkoff-fight-burnout-with-self-reflection / “Looking back, there’s been this ordeal by fire every step of the way, and fighting tooth and claw.”
It’s that struggle – not feeling “cool or connected or successful enough or rich enough” to be in the inner fashion circle, as Rebecca Minkoff puts it – that has helped her make her the star. athlete that she presents in her book.
That’s why she believes burnout can be eradicated by working harder. That’s why, when this showroom owner tore up the Morning After Bag, Minkoff didn’t defend his artistic vision but followed O’Connor’s advice by modifying his design. That’s why she turned to entrepreneurship, a world where being cool mattered less than having ideas and confidence.
That’s why she titled her book “Fearless”, even though she still feels fear around fashion weeks and the future, and raising three children in a pandemic, and the growing cultural backlash against the founders.
“My take on the ‘Fearless’ call is it’s not like you’re not afraid,” Minkoff said. It’s more like, “‘I’m scared. I’m terrified. But here we go.'”