Over the years, Rebecca Minkoff's eponymous brand has become well-known for their handbags, footwear, jewelry and accessories. From winning awards to having a flagship store in New York City, the designer has an idea why the products remain so beloved today.
"We've been known as a brand to break boundaries, to test things, to not be afraid of trying new things and for being innovative," Minkoff, who partnered with M&M's about their upcoming program celebrating International Women’s Day and women across the country who are flipping the status quo, exclusively tells Morning Honey. "We've been able to have fun and experiment, which has helped us grow without the usual levers of tons of investments of cash or going public. It's allowed us to occupy a space where we can still be a really beautiful, small business — but we can also play with the big guys because we're willing to take big risks."
From day one, the fashion guru has always listened to the customers to hear what they want. "It was our innovation and to be able to take risks," she states. "I also think we never lost sight of things. I may be getting older, but I am never going to lose sight of that 18-year-old girl who is going to have her first bag. Also, how do you string that line between the 18-year-old who is about to go to college and wants a cross body bag and the 42-year-old mom who wants the diaper bag? There's a world where you can be the same girl. I'm hoping we do a good enough job of talking to her at both ends of the spectrum."
When the brunette beauty, who is due with baby No. 4 any day now, moved to New York City at 18 years old to break into the fashion industry, she didn't know it would pan out like this.
"It's definitely a dream come true," she says of how far she's come. "But I think as you bet older, you're exposed to more things and your dreams change and shift. I was able to co-found the Female Founder Collective, a 501(3)c that aims to support, develop and elevate the founders of female-owned and led businesses, elevating women on a mission to break barriers. It's not something I started my career thinking I needed to, but it adds dimension and there's a necessity for it. It's enriching."
"When you meet a woman who's like, 'I attended one of your Female Founder days, and I learned this or I started my company,' that is really inspiring," she notes. "It might have started with designing a bag but to be able to expand to be more than that is awesome."
Additionally, Minkoff's work ethic is something she hopes to instill in her three children. "I have two boys and a girl right now. I don't know the gender of this next child, but when my daughter was born, I was like, 'I am going to teach her how to be strong and powerful.' She came out like, 'Get out of my way, lady! I know exactly what I want and you can't tell me what to do.' I hope they see that hard work pays off."
She adds, "I say no a lot because I don't want to raise brats. They're already exposed to a level of things, whether it's traveling with me or getting to go to certain things. I am like, 'This is not normal. I just want you guys to know.' I try to make sure they always have a reality check."
Looking back, Minkoff says she would tell her younger self to "slow down" and know it's going to be OK. "I look back at my 20s and I was working all the time," she recalls. "I see these young girls in my office, and they are enjoying life but also working hard."
Since Minkoff wants to pass her knowledge onto others, partnering with M&M's to discuss the first-ever all-female packs was important to her. (Beginning in January, the limited-edition packs will feature three female characters — Purple, Brown and Green — on the packs, with purple, brown and green lentils within.)
"Symbols are extraordinarily important, and from an early age, we see things that mean certain things. When I had M&M's during Halloween, you would see the cartoons on them, so to now empower women is exciting. For us to partner with them and the Female Founder Collective and use these funds to support women and give out grants makes an impact," she explains. "As a woman and female founder, the more we can support women and female founders in any part is vital. We can make a lot of change with the funds and with the women who qualify for the grants, which is really exciting."
As part of this program, women can nominate other women in their lives who are change makers, resulting in the opportunity for them to get some money to help with their business. "The goal would be to get as many women nominating each other as possible," Minkoff shares. "From having given grants in the past, these stories are unbelievable with what people have done and what they've built and rebuilt."
Since the fashion world is female-dominated, Minkoff wants to be known as someone who lifts others up. "When I started the Female Founder Collective, it's all about supporting more women, whether it's financially, fundamentally, etc. The goal is to make sure if you're going to start a business that you have the tools to succeed. We want to give those tools to other women."
As for what's next, Minkoff says "turning the Female Founder Collective up is going to be critical for us because we're so proud of our members. Hopefully with everyone seeing the M&M's, it will help amplify this movement. You can never get stagnant in your career. I definitely have bigger goals — whether it's opening retail again this year and expanding internationally — and it's an exciting time."
From January 5 to the 15, people are invited to visit https://www.mms.com/flipthestatusquo to nominate the women in their lives who are flipping the status quo for the chance to be featured on M&M’S platforms and receive $10k to further fund their mission.