WATCH: Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon and More Stars Join Tory Burch's #EmbraceAmbition Movement for International Women's Day
“Be persistent.” “Don’t apologize.” “Never give up on your hopes and dreams.” These are the calls to action made in the empowering new PSA above, a global campaign launched by the Tory Burch Foundation to encourage women to #EmbraceAmbition.
The star-studded PSA stars Burch, alongside Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Yara Shahidi, Jon Hamm and more famous faces and its launch coincides with International Women’s Day (March 8).
“The people in the PSA are people I admire and that have been vocal or lived their lives in a way that shows that this is meaningful and this is not a partisan issue,” the designer tells PeopleStyle of her initiative. “This is a human rights issue, women should have equal rights. It should be a give-in.”
Washington shares with us: “To today’s generation of young, powerful women I would say don’t apologize. Be who you are.”
As part of the campaign, bracelets and t-shirts will be available at toryburch.com and torysport.com (all proceeds go to the Tory Burch Foundation, which empowers women entrepreneurs in the United States), and visitors are invited to take a digital pledge to #EmbraceAmbition and use the hashtag on social media.
Below, we got the download from Burch about the serendipitous timing of her new initiative, plus, who inspires her and what meaningful things you would find in her closet.
Can you talk about why now more than ever conscious shopping is on everyone’s minds?
When you think of shopping and social justice — it’s a personal choice. But my experience is that I didn’t realize how good social responsibility would be for the bottom line. That’s not something I thought of in the beginning but certainly our customers love it, it’s great for our employees and it also attracts people to want to work at our company. Millennials are especially interested in social responsibility which is very hopeful for the future. I think you can buy something and have it have meaning at the same time it’s a win for everyone.
Who has inspired you the most in your career?
My mom is certainly my role model. Both my parents have taught me that anything is possible and with hard work and determination the sky’s the limit and I think that’s been something that was instilled in me quite young. It was never about gender. I grew up with three brothers, I was taught I could do anything they do and it was always about if you work hard you can achieve your dream and that was something that was instilled in me early. I also admired Audrey Hepburn’s career and think she was very inspiring, the way she used her platform and did incredible work to change people’s lives with UNICEF. That was something that always struck me growing up.
What does the word ambition mean to you?
When ambition describes a man it’s celebrated and with a woman it seems a bit distasteful and crass. There is a stigma. About 12 years ago, one of the first articles written on me I played into that and so this is a personal message for me as well. There was an article in the New York Times that was written and a friend called me after and said, ‘I love the article but you shied away from the word ambition.’ And she was absolutely right. It just seemed a bit distasteful for lack of a better word and I think it’s important for women, for men to encourage women to embrace their ambition and it doesn’t necessarily mean a career. It could be the way you live your life. You could be a stay at home mom but there should not be that harmful double standard and cultural stereotype. When I reached out to people for the public service announcement, there was a resounding ‘Yes’ because I feel that it’s touched a cord and it’s something we’ve been working on for a long time but it’s good timing with everything happening in the world right now.
What was your most memorable moment as a female designer?
When I went on Oprah. It was my first year in business. I had never been on TV before. To get that call and to actually have it be real, I thought one of my brothers was playing a joke on me at the time, and flying to Chicago and sitting down and actually having a fashion show on her show and hearing from her that we could be the next big thing was incredibly meaningful but in so many more ways than just business. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things and what could happen with this company. She told me, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only 30 million viewership.’ and for someone who has no been on TV before it was amusing.
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Have you ever cried or gotten emotional when you saw somebody wearing your clothes?
I don’t know I have cried but I will say that I am incredibly honored today, as honored as I was 12 years ago when the company first started, there’s a lot of choices for women out there but to see the Duchess of Cambridge or Michelle Obama or someone on the street I mean to me it’s a choice for everyone. They have many options and I am honored. It’s something I will never be jaded by.
What’s your advice to young women wanting to start their own business?
I would give them the same advice my parents gave to me. That negativity is noise and have a unique vision and be prepared to thicken your skin and buckle up for hard work because you need a unique point of view and if you have it you need to believe in your abilities and also in the confidence to see your dream through.
What is the best style advice you ever received?
My mother used to tell me, ‘Always wear the dress, don’t let the dress wear you,’ which I think is from someone else but she certainly would say that a fair amount.
What’s the most meaningful thing in your closet?
My father always had this gold lighter with charms on it, and he was always very precious about it, and we always wanted to play with it and he never let us and when he passed away I turned it into a pendant. It’s such a meaningful thing to me but it also, shows how incredibly chic he was and how individual he was.
To take the pledge and learn more about the Tory Burch Foundation’s #EmbraceAmbition movement, click here.