Rebecca Minkoff is no stranger to the fashion industry. An established fashion designer with a label of the same name, she moved to New York at 18 to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer.
She worked for another designer for three years before deciding to develop her passion into a sustainable business. So she resigned and started her mass-tige eponymous label, Rebecca Minkoff.
With that, she has gained continuous success and recognition in the industry. More recently, she was invited to take on the role of an expert panellist on the brand new series, Project Runway: Fashion Startup. It showcases aspiring fashion and beauty entrepreneur, where they get a chance to pitch to the panel of expert investors, hoping to secure funds and work under their guidance.
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We were fortunate enough to speak with her over the phone from New York, where she’s currently based. Here, Minkoff enthuses on her start-up journey, the ups and downs through the years, her inspirations and career game plans.
What are the obstacles you had to overcome and how did you do that?
“We faced production issues, quality issues, everything. I found that surrounding yourself with people who knows more about the problem than you helps, and you can use that as a strength to overcome challenges.”
To you, what does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?
“I never saw myself as one, but I realise now that I am. I had a dream and a passion, of which I wanted to start it. Entrepreneurs just see themselves as doing what they love.”
How do you constantly come up with fresh ideas for your label?
“Luckily for me I get to travel a lot, immerse in new cultures, taking inspiration from everything around me. From art films to vintage shopping.”
How do you think the fashion landscape has changed?
“It has changed tremendously, what was once restricted to only the industry, is now widely popular. We can get images from Fashion Week easily etc, but now the whole world is involved, everything is moving online and e-commerce has changed the way customers shop and interact.
How important is digital?
“It is everything, it is how we grew our platform. It’s slowly becoming the most important because you get to own the customer from from the beginning, building a more personal relationship and it’s very important”
How do you think start ups can progress from small players to big players, like yourself?
“With clear vision. Identify your products, find people who know what you don’t know. Surround yourself with people that have the brains, so when you go out to fight, you have their strength to rely on.”
Do you take risks to push your brand forward?
“We build our brand by taking risk and now we embrace the risk. We started talking to customers and working with bloggers when we were told we shouldn’t. We found great success with it.”
Something you regretted the most?
“For two years we thought we needed it to be high concept, we should have just made everyday available clothing that everyone wants to wear instead. We do that now and that was a mistake.”
Any advice to aspiring fashion designers out there?
“Be persistent, always find a white space and figure out what is unique about your label and why should someone buy you over from other brands. Good thing to know before you start up.”
How do you feel about being one of the expert panelists for Project Runway: Fashion Startup?
“Great honour and it has been really fun.”
How do you think being part of the panel is going to help integrate with your brand?
“The exposure for the label is amazing and people will continuously recognise the brand.”
Catch Rebecca Minkoff in action on Project Runway: Fashion Startup, 18 May, airing on Thursdays at 9pm first and exclusively on Lifetime (StarHub TV Ch 514).