She wants you to be bossy. Yesterday at Lincoln Center, Tory Burch helmed her second annual Embrace Ambition Summit, encouraging women worldwide to take the lead in business, sports, the arts, and beyond. But balancing a style empire and a thriving female empowerment fund isn’t easy (especially for those of us who think “multitasking” means sipping coffee while sitting in a meeting). We asked the designer and entrepreneur about her event prep routine and how she stays balanced before big events. 

How far before the summit do you begin preparing?

Our Foundation’s work is year-round, but we began planning this year’s Summit almost a year ago.

What do you wish you knew about ambition when you were just beginning your business? What do you still have to remind yourself about ambition now? 

I wish I knew that it is not a dirty word. Embracing ambition means having the courage, the drive and the confidence to go for what you want in life. [I have to remind myself that] it should never be viewed as a negative.

What’s your process to prepare for public speaking at the summit? 

I still get nervous before speaking publicly. There are some things I’ll never get used to, and speaking in front of thousands of people is one of them. But I have learned that if you want to grow, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone…  I am perpetually outside of my mine.

2020 Embrace Ambition Summit | Halima Aden and Tory Burch
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2020 Embrace Ambition Summit | Halima Aden and Tory Burch

What’s your breakfast on the day of the summit? 

It depends. Most mornings I have yogurt with a side of CNN.  

How did you balance preparing and producing your Fall 2020 fashion show with this event, just a month later, to keep up the energy and momentum? 

Luckily, we have an incredible Foundation team. I could not have done this without all their efforts.  

Why do we still need International Women’s Day? 

We still have a lot of work to do. It is absurd that equal pay is not a reality, and that only 5% of CEOs on the S&P 500 are women. Women are underpaid and underrepresented in positions of power and that is simply unacceptable. We believe at the heart of gender inequities is unconscious bias, and that raising awareness is the first step to creating real change.

What do you think the role of fashion is within the feminist movement?

Fashion can be transformative. My goal as a designer is to make women feel great and to reinforce their confidence. That is what I am interested in—empowering women any way I can.

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