Jul 20, 2021

5 Takeaways from Rebecca Minkoff's New Book Fearless

Fashion fans: if you're looking for something fun to read this summer, look no further than Rebecca Minkoff's new book Fearless. Those of you that know me well, know that I'm a sucker for two things: fashion exhibits and fashion books. So naturally, when I stumbled upon this book at the airport while waiting for a recent flight to LA, I purchased it. I'll be honest, I haven't kept up with her career aside from noticing when she appeared on Project Runway: Fashion Startup back in 2016, but I do remember the popularity of her handbags from back in the day. 

The book is divided into 21 different rules for success, including things like "Go for Purpose Over Payout", "Create Two Way Streets", and "Communicate Your Heart Out", which as a fashion publicist, resonates with me deeply. The book starts out by diving into Rebecca's early days in the fashion industry. She became a household name when a "I Love New York" t-shirt she designed was worn by a famous actress on The Tonight Show. Four years later, she designed her first handbag, and the rest is history. Here are my 5 favorite takeaways from the book. 

#1 - You Have More to Offer Than You Might Think 

In the early days of Rebecca's New York journey, she had no friends and virtually no money so she decided to spend her free time volunteering and began picking up hours at a space that hosted gallery nights for up-and-coming artists. "The only things I had to offer," says Rebecca, "were time and energy." Through the experience, she met like-minded people, expanded her network, and found a connection point to the city. 

There are so many young people today who are eager to break into the fashion industry but hold themselves back because they think they have nothing to offer when nothing could be further from the truth. Don't underestimate the value of time and energy. It's a resource that not everyone has, so if you have the time, interest, and energy to volunteer in spaces that speak to you, DO IT! You never know what you might learn or who you might meet. 

#2 - Don't Take It Personally If Something Doesn't Work Out

There will be many times throughout the course of your career that things won't work out the way you planned. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's the art of the pivot. You may test out great ideas that fail miserably for whatever reason and it's important not to berate yourself when that happens. In the book, Rebecca notes that ideas are experiments. The important thing is to learn from them and move on. "Every minute you spend stuck on the hamster wheel or why something didn't go exactly as you had planned is a minute you could be spending on creating something new." 

#3 - Networking Flows Both Ways

Relationships are everything in every industry, which is why networking is critically important for success. As you can imagine, the fashion industry in New York is notoriously cliquey, and since Rebecca started her career before the birth of social media, she was on her own when it came to navigating the world of fashion. The key to networking is about asking what can we do for each other versus asking what can you do for me? There should be a give and take. For example, if you are asking for introductions, be prepared to return the favor down the line. And don't forget to thank the people that have helped you along the way.

#4 - Talk A Lot of Shop

When Rebecca Minkoff was getting started, sample sales in New York were starting to take off. Not only was it a great way for designers to make some extra cash while cleaning out their storage rooms, it provided a fun experience for fashion fans. Rebecca noticed early on that sample sales were a great way to connect with customers and get their feedback on products. She got to eavesdrop on what people were saying and always paid attention to what products went first and which ones were left over at the end of the day. That insight proved to be invaluable and the community-building that the samples sales provided was a also a way for the brand to stay engaged with its audience. Rebecca Minkoff eventually started doing sample sales twice a year and it became an amazing way to get product into people's hands. 

#5 - Give Your Gut Some Credit

"I do not regret my big messy failures. I regret that when I knew in my gut something was wrong even when it was something small, I didn't have enough faith in myself to fight for what I knew was right," says Rebecca Minkoff. This is a big part of being fearless. You have to trust your gut. There is an inner knowing in each of us that is there to help guide us in the right direction. When we ignore that inner voice because it's not convenient, or we feel like we would be rocking the boat if we spoke up, we are blocking our own intuitive wisdom. Trust your gut. There is a reason it's called a "gut instinct" and those feelings are there for a reason. 

This is a great book for fashion students who are just starting out in the industry and want to hear words of widsom from someone who started small, worked hard, and built a $100 million dollar fashion empire. Fearless is full of lessons learned and tangible takeaways. It's a great summer read and I finished it over a long weekend. Find it at your local bookstore or on Amazon


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