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Tory Burch Speaks at Forbes Women's Summit

Speaking with Moira Forbes, president and publisher of Forbes Woman, the designer said she never expected to have the kind of success her company has enjoyed.

BURCH ON BURCH: Tory Burch said she never expected to have the kind of success her company has enjoyed. Speaking with Moira Forbes, president and publisher of Forbes Woman, at the Forbes Women’s Summit: Power Redefined on Thursday morning, Burch recalled a phone call she got from Oprah Winfrey’s team when she first got started. They were doing a show on “The Next Big Thing,” and Burch thought it was a joke. After she appeared on the show, she got 8 million hits on her Web site. “I had no idea what it meant to build a global brand. I wanted to start a foundation. That’s something I wanted to do since I was little,” said Burch.

Forbes said in the beginning people thought it would be a vanity project or it was a socialite starting a company. Burch said that her parents advised her to “thicken your skin,” and she kept a low profile, didn’t talk about it much and wanted the product to speak for itself. Originally the brand was going to be named Tory by TRB, and her friend, Kennenth J. Lane, said, “That’s a horrendous name, change it,” recalled the designer.

Burch said what she loves about her career is “I can run the business and be creative. I’m spending a lot of time in design. The last two years we haven’t had a design director,” she said. Since she launched her brand nine years ago, she’s never done any advertising, but that’s about to change. She built her brand image through public relations, marketing and social media, and is looking forward to launching her first ad campaign in October for her fragrance with Estée Lauder.

One topic Forbes neglected to bring up were the rumors surrounding a potential Tory Burch initial public offering. Surprising for the magazine that calls itself “The Capitalist Tool.”