Rebecca Minkoff – To Hell in a Handbag
Entrepreneur|June 2021
Rebecca Minkoff’s luxury fashion brand cratered in the pandemic. But she’s been at the bottom before, and she knows the way back up: You have to be fearless.
By Liz Brody

Rebecca Minkoff has impeccable timing, but it sometimes punks her. Back in 2001, she slashed and fabbed-up an “I love New York’’ T-shirt for actress Jenna Elfman, who wore it on The Tonight Show a month after 9/11. It put Minkoff on the map. Then her handbag, called the Morning After Bag, proved she wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. After building her eponymous brand into a global success, she started the Female Founder Collective with Alison Wyatt in 2018—the same year “2.2 percent” became a rallying cry for women entrepreneurs who were appalled at that speck of VC funding going their way. Now FFC has 9,500 members and its seal is on three million businesses to show they’re owned by women.

Along the way, people asked Minkoff, who has three children under the age of 10, about a book. It was never the right time. “Honestly, what would it be about?” she says. “I’m not going to do a coffee table on the history of handbags.” But with the brand passing $100 million in sales, she had an idea—a memoir called Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success, based on 20 lessons she’d learned about entrepreneurship. She began work on it in March 2020…just as COVID-19 decimated retail, and her business along with it. And yet, crisis proved just what the book—and her brand—needed.

You’re famous for the shirt.

People still think I’m an overnight success, and I’m like, “It might feel instant to all of you guys, but this has been the longest 20 years of my life.” That shirt didn’t pay the bills. I was broke. But it did allow me to call boutiques and for them to not hang up the phone.

One of those boutiques, a very cool one in L.A., called early on to tell you that the only thing wrong with their first order was absolutely everything. They were sending it back.

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