FN: How is making footwear different from making jewelry?
IT: Shoes have to be well engineered. There’s a lot that goes into a shoe that you don’t have to think about for a pair of earrings. You think about the weight of a pair of earrings. With shoes, it’s more [complicated to create] a comfortable, 4-inch pump to wear during a 12-hour workday.
FN: What other categories would you eventually like to see under the Ivanka Trump umbrella?
IT: I don’t sign a deal and move on, and right now I’m focused on the execution of jewelry, shoes and handbags. But there are other categories — like sunglasses — that, at the right time and with the right partner, would be very interesting. Apparel is sort of the next natural step, but for now, I’ve got quite a bit on my plate.
FN: How do you ensure a cohesive look is applied across the brand?
IT: Once a month, I gather all my friends at Marc Fisher, [handbag licensee] Mondani, Ivanka Trump Diamond and Trump Hotel Collection in one room to talk about what we’re working on. We’ll have design meetings [where we talk about the shoes and the bags], which colors were a focal point and the materials being used, so they can create a full look. One of the clasps from the jewelry collection inspired details on two pairs of pumps. There are a lot of benefits to everyone coordinating their efforts.
FN: Do you have plans for an Ivanka Trump footwear boutique?
IT: For now, it makes sense to embrace retail partnerships that give us access to more customers and have so many more points of sale. That’s something I’m focusing on with the jewelry, as well. We launched a wholesale collection three months ago, and have gotten incredible commitments [from] more than 45 retailers domestically, and many more internationally.
FN: How has social networking played a role in developing your brand?
IT: I have around 900,000 followers [on Twitter], and it’s been a great way for me to communicate about the things I’m working on, get feedback and have a dialogue. It’s really gained a lot of traction, and now I’m working on a pretty incredible Facebook page. Few brands have a person behind them, and [social networking] is a great way to speak to people.
FN: Your father certainly knows about branding. Is his business model one you’d like to emulate?
IT: I can’t even comprehend why somebody — unless their brand lacks credibility — wouldn’t use their name. People may be drawn to a shoe because somebody they identify with designs it, but they’re not going to make a purchase unless the product is great. My father has created an incredible platform and a brand synonymous with success and luxury. To disassociate myself would be a very big strategic error.
FN: A lot of people would assume you could have joined the Trump organization regardless of what you studied in college. Why was the business degree important?
IT: The interesting thing about being in a family business is that you’re given great responsibility, probably in excess of what your actual experience warrants. You either sink or swim. I definitely manage and have direct responsibility for things that somebody in my age range would not [normally] be in charge of. There’s tremendous privilege and responsibility. I tap into any resource to enable me to make better decisions.
FN: Who are some of your fashion icons?
IT: Grace Kelly was incredible, and so was Audrey Hepburn. [I’ve always admired] people whose beauty, grace, poise and style transcend the generations. In terms of contemporary women, Gwyneth Paltrow has great, classic and a little bit preppy-but-elegant style.
FN: What about footwear designers?
IT: I’m no longer giving them good press! [Laughs]
FN: You’ve been on “The Apprentice” for a few years now. Any ambition to do more TV?
IT: Truthfully, no. I get asked to do a lot of things, like be a host on morning shows or do outrageous things like be on “The Bachelorette” [before I was married]. I don’t think so. Some of it is beneficial to our business, and that’s interesting. I go on CNBC quite a bit — and that’s a good place for me to be — but “The Apprentice” is a lot to handle in itself.
FN: When you manage to carve out some time, what do you do for fun?
IT: I’m no longer at the stage where I’m going to clubs, and instead tend to do more low-key things, liking cooking and hosting dinner parties with really interesting people. I’m a movie addict, too, [and I] love the salacious stuff like “Gossip Girl” and “The Tudors.” I’m so upset [that show] is done, but I guess [Henry VIII] ran out of wives.