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Rebecca Minkoff On How To Succeed Without Sacrificing Your Life

Each month, Bumble Bizz taps an influential entrepreneur to have a private conversation with a user looking for advice. So far, we’ve heard from luminaries including Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck , Wharton professor and management expert Adam Grant and Reshma Saujani , founder and CEO of nonprofit Girls Who Code. This month, Bumble Bizz spoke with Rebecca Minkoff, who cofounded her eponymous fashion brand with her brother in 2005. Fourteen years in, Rebecca talks balancing business with family — and how to overcome the pressure to "have it all."

Stay tuned to the Let’s Talk Bizzness series to see who’s offering their valuable time and knowledge next.

Bumble Bizz: On her recent book tour, Michelle Obama told an audience that you can’t “have it all” — at least “not at the same time.” What do you think? Should women be striving to have it all, and do you?

Rebecca Minkoff: I agree with her – you can’t have it all, but we shouldn’t be made to feel it’s bad thing either! You have to figure out what your priorities are and how to work your life so that you can put those first and we shouldn’t put so much pressure on perfection – that’s not real life.  

B: You run a successful company while raising a young family, including a one-year-old. How do you think about priorities? 

R: As a mother of three young children, my priorities are to be present for my kids as much as possible, especially at this age. It’s important for me to always make sure I’m home in the morning to walk my kids to school, or if I need to travel for work I will limit my time away to five days, otherwise I will bring my kids with me.

This allows me to feel that “even” sense between work and spending quality time with my kids. It’s the give-and-takes that are unique to each woman that she must explore for herself — and not be comparing herself to other women on her social feeds. 

It’s important to explore your boundaries with work and family so that you know what your hard lines are. Additionally, I also like to mention the importance of hiring and developing a team that’s strong, hardworking, and trustworthy. Maybe that’s not possible at first, but as you begin to grow your business that is an important component of your foundation. 

B: Your brother Uri is your co-founder. What has it been like, to grow this company *as* a family? What do you tend to disagree about?

R: There’s a loyalty and implicit trust that comes with working with a family member, especially a sibling.

Do we have arguments and disagreements? Yes, all the time!

Do we work through them? Of course, and we will take those heated discussions to therapy together.

It’s the nature of the business, and you’re bound to have disagreements but it’s just something that you have to continue to work through together.

B: Do you have any hard and fast rules you abide by in order to keep family time separate from your work life? Do you, for instance, have a time of day where you stop checking emails?

R: There’s no purpose for hard and fast rules, rather it’s about being present: getting home, trying to take work-related needs off my mind, to be more connected and enjoy the moments with my kids. It’s constantly something I am working on! 

B: You’ve spoken before in interviews about breastfeeding your older children while on business trips to Korea and China. Were there ever moments when you thought, “I can’t do this all at once — this is too much?” And if so, how did you overcome that?

Of course there are moments that I feel ‘this is too much’ – like stuffing a cooler in my suitcase over a transatlantic flight hoping that the milk stays frozen, or having to pump during a partner meeting with our all-male Japanese executive team members. We are all human, and it can be quite overwhelming at times, but (and the but is key here!) this — breastfeeding — is the best thing I can do for my child at this time. Breastfeeding is also something that is personally important to me, so unless we adapt our lives to make it a priority, women managing work and motherhood will never progress.

B: You’ve been in business now for 14 years. Have you seen the business world adapt to be more inclusive of — and respectful to — women and particularly mothers since then?

R: Fostering women-led business is more crucial today than ever. The global rate of female entrepreneurship is increasing more quickly than that of their male counterparts. Since 2014, more than 163 million women around the world have started a new business, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. 

Taking the topic a step further, women not only dominate consumer choices, but also increasingly lead the way in business. As more and more women-owned business are being highlighted and becoming more widespread in conversation, a shift begins to take shape. One example that I like to make has to with flex scheduling. The typical 9-5 workday which was constructed by a man (Henry Ford) back in the 1950s is beginning to become obsolete; the more we discuss and take action the greater our steps will become. 

B: What advice would you give, from your experience, to women (and indeed parents and primary caregivers of all genders) trying to launch or scale businesses while also raising young children?

R: Even if your dream seems unattainable, you can achieve it if you stay focused, driven and diligent. Also, trust in those who support you and always remember to give back!