An unparalleled fixture in the fashion world, Rachel Zoe is a distinguished designer, stylist and editor renowned for her effortless take on glamour. Having immersed herself in fashion and design for nearly two decades, Rachel has been heralded as one of the most influential forces working in fashion today.
Lifestyle of a Fashion Mogul
Rachel Zoe has propelled from celebrity stylist to reality star turned entrepreneur expanding her audience beyond fashion to the business arena and this is what she had to share.
Do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
Yes I do. I will always think of myself as that girl that is 22 starting and really excited about everything and wanting to be amazing at everything. I always wanted to be the best stylist. That was it. Not that that isn’t a lot, but everything else were things that felt right or opportunities that presented themselves. I didn’t lay out a blueprint for how I wanted my career to go.
If your life is a pie with different categories represented by slices, how do you slice your life?
I wish I could say that there was like a calculated way that I slice it but every single day is different. You can think like ‘Oh tomorrow I have 18 work things that I need to do’ and then one of the kids wake up with 104 fever and the entire day changes and my office comes to my house and I do most of my meetings via phone or Skype or whatever because I am not leaving my sick child.
Where does your ambition come from?
Passion for what I do. My dad is an unbelievable entrepreneur who balanced his life as a father and a president of two very successful companies. I watched him my whole life. He coached every single softball game, every soccer game. I don’t know how he did it, but he was there. We had family dinners. And my mom was the busiest non-working person you’ve ever met. I don’t come from a family of slackers but I do come from a family of doers.
You can’t plan too much, you just wing it – Rachel Zoe
Things I’ve Learned Growing My Business
Over the past 20-plus years, I have transitioned from solo stylist to CEO of an ever-expanding, multifaceted company that encompasses a styling studio, product development department and a digital media group. I learn something new every single day, and I’d like to share a few insights that have been particularly invaluable throughout my career:
1. Trust Your Instincts. First and foremost, go with your gut. Warren Buffett constantly credits instinct as a secret weapon, which is one of the many reasons I consider him a personal hero. I am very much a creative person, without formal business training, but I have always had a strong intuition about which paths to pursue and instinct has been my most valuable source. For instance, when I first wanted to launch a daily newsletter, I encountered some scepticism since I knew so little about digital. But four years later, The Zoe Report is one of the biggest parts of my brand and it helps fuel every other aspect of my business. The bottom line is that if you’re confronted with critics, take their words with a grain of salt. Look inward, then move forward.
2. Connect To The Customer. I like to connect directly to my customers whenever and however possible through social media, public appearances and retailer feedback. It is so crucial when it comes to gauging what is and isn’t working with your product. I do as many in-store events as I can because I love to get in the dressing rooms with women to hear what they love and to see how my designs fit different body types. This is also the best way to troubleshoot problem areas.
Also, when it comes to determining your brand’s signature: some of the best advice I ever received came from Diane von Furstenberg, who said, “Don’t stress over trying to figure out what you’re known for – your customers are going to figure it out for you.”
3. You Can’t Please Everyone. All of that being said, it is also important to know that you can’t make everyone happy. As a designer, I made the mistake in the beginning of listening to too many buyers, and it was like having too many cooks in the kitchen. I lost my vision for a little bit because I was trying to please everyone. The lesson here is to find a balance between acknowledging and implementing feedback, while still staying true to your identity. I never want to chase trends; I’d rather stand behind what I believe in, and I’ve found that if something I put forth doesn’t pick up in the spring season, if I stick with it, by the time fall hits retailers people will love it. Consistency and staying true to your authentic self are key.
4. Empower the Right People. I would never be where I am without the support of an incredible, ever-growing team. As someone who worked independently for years, I was hesitant in the beginning to ask anyone else to help me. I’ve learned that by letting go and empowering talented individuals to do their job (while not micromanaging them), the sky is the limit for what can be accomplished.
5. Stay Open. Styling is my baby. I never thought I’d be more than a stylist, because I was happy just doing that. I was truly driven by passion and not money – which is the key for success. It was my love of what I do that led me to write a book, launch a digital media company, produce a TV show and, scariest of all, become a designer. By staying open to any possibility and moving forward when my instinct pushed me to do so, without any kind of blueprint, so many incredible things have come to fruition. So, never say never – and seize opportunities if your intuition gives you the go-ahead.
Zoe also admits to making as many left – or wrong turns – in her business and life as she has made right ones but concedes she has learnt from her mistakes.
I keep on moving. The minute you stop, you lose momentum. – Rachel Zoe
Most Rewarding Role
Rachel Zoe may tell some of the world’s most famous people what to wear and has become a fashion icon herself, but at the end of the day she puts her kids first, goes to bed between nine and 10pm and counts her husband – and business partner Roger Berman – as her best friend and confidante.
She may be a reality TV star, author, designer and entrepreneur, but her favourite title is that of mother.
“I just knew I had to become a Mum,” Zoe says. “If I didn’t have 18 jobs, I’d have six kids.”
But Zoe admits fitting in children with her career and lifestyle wasn’t without its challenges. She had her first child four years ago aged 40, after realising it was either then or never.
It (having a child) changes everything. But in the best possible way… you make it work. – Rachel Zoe
Zoe has also made her multi-million dollar business work thanks to the support of her husband and business partner Berman, while she leans on her Dad for business advice.
“He (Berman) balances my strengths and weaknesses,” she says of her partner of 23 years.
Family is just an incredible constant, they tell you to keep going. You need that, it’s so easy to get discouraged. – Rachel Zoe
Hope you enjoy the following Rachel Zoe inspirational quotes and insights.
Tom Ford does everything perfect.
On the look…
You can’t get dressed without good hair.
I think people should look cute all the time.
Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.
The worst thing you could ever get is people who think they know everything.
All those things they say about a baby changing your perspective, it does!
You always be nice to people. Don’t step on people to get where you want to in this business.
People tell you everything changes when you have a kid, but what nobody says is you don’t mind.
I’m not trying to set the world on fire; I just want to make really beautiful clothes that women want to wear, can afford, and can really see themselves in.
My first job, I worked at ‘YM’ and I had an extremely tough boss who made me cry every single day. But what I took away from that was how I would never be.
What happens style wise behind closed doors, in your home, shouldn’t be incidental. Home isn’t just where you stow your things or sack out for the night. It should be your private escape.
On the dream…
I will always think of myself as that girl that is 22 starting and really excited about everything and wanting to be amazing at everything. I always wanted to be the best stylist. That was it.