Rebecca Minkoff is a high-powered fashion designer and household name. She runs The Female Founder Collective, a nonprofit that supports women-owned businesses. She’s a mother of three young children. Her hair is glossy. She gives off the impression of someone who easily hails cabs and never spills a glass. She seems to have the life of the benevolent boss in a romantic comedy.
And she’s scared, most of the time. “There was always fear,” she tells Glamour, of the decades she spent making a name for herself in fashion. She was scared when she launched her company. As it grew, she sometimes failed, she was admonished, she was discouraged. The trick, she says, is not that she perfectly mastered the fear. It’s that she felt it, accepted it, and went ahead anyway. “I didn’t let it stop me,” she says.
In her new book, Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success, Minkoff shares some of her tricks for taking big risks in a scary world. “Fear is a normal human emotion that can keep us safe, but if you let that same feeling overtake you when you’re trying to reach a goal, pursue your passion, or make a change, that stops everything,” she says. “You’re in a no-go zone.” In the book she talks about how to develop “a mindset that’s like: ‘I’m doing it anyways. Yes I’m scared. I want to vomit. But here I go.’”
It’s a hack she thinks can change the lives of women, especially. “I’ve never heard a man say I’m afraid to fail, and I’ve heard a lot of women say that,” she says. “We’re more likely to overthink or want to be perfect or weigh the odds a little bit more. That intuition can be to our advantage sometimes! But also we need to know when to use that superpower, and when to not let it stop us.” For Glamour’s Doing the Work column, Minkoff shares the power of finding solutions, setting boundaries, and eating organic Pringles.
My childhood dream job
I had a couple things on my list. Designer was one of them. I also was fascinated by genetics and thought maybe I wanted to be a geneticist, and then realized, I don’t think I want to spend the next eight years in a lab, so I’m gonna pass on that.
My first job
I really wanted the Beverly Hills, 90210 Barbie set. It was the whole set with Dylan, Brenda, and all that. My mom was like, “I’m not buying that for you!” I babysat all summer to make $120 to buy that set! My first “real” job was when I was 16 and my parents wouldn’t pay for gas, so I was a waitress at an ice cream place.
How I deal with disappointment
I used to deal with it a lot differently. I used to let it linger for days and kind of wallow in it, and I found that to be incredibly unproductive. I can’t share the setback, but we experienced a huge setback last week, and I went into solutions mode: What are all the ways we can beat this problem? And I don’t just do this by myself; I have my cofounder and CEO and another business strategist who works with us. It’s like a war room. I think whenever you’re beating your head against a wall, find people that are knowledgeable in your area. Lamenting to your best friend who has no clue about your business won’t help. We just spitball solutions and try to come up with something.
My morning routine
I have a morning routine, not because I say to myself, “You must have a morning routine,” but there are just things that give me pleasure in the morning and set the tone for the day. First step: coffee, probably two or three cups. Then it’s a long workout. That’s pretty much my routine—nothing out of the ordinary. But for me, that coffee and workout are nonnegotiable.
Advice I wish I could give my younger self
I have trouble with this question—I guess I’m here now because apparently I did the right thing? But when you look at everything we had to do as a brand to succeed, I always had this nagging feeling, like, Am I doing the wrong thing? Am I making a mistake? Should we stay the course? In 2005, talking to our customer was considered a horrible thing to do. Working with influencers and bloggers? We were told by our retail partners and editors that we were dirtying ourselves. We were getting threats that business would not be continued if we didn’t listen. In 2005 there’s no such thing as direct-to-consumer, and your life these are my lifelines and they’re threatening me, it was scary. I just wish I didn’t spend my time worrying. I wish I would have told myself, “Fuck these people! This is the future.”
One thing I’m a perfectionist about
I’m gonna go ahead and say I sometimes wish I was a perfectionist, but I’m a little messy around the edges! I strive to be a perfectionist around my schedule and my kids’ schedule in life, but I don’t think that it’s perfect…ever.
The most misunderstood thing about what I do
I think people see the Instagram feed or the red-carpet photos or the fashion show and they assume it’s all glamour. What you’re seeing is one minute out of hundreds! It’s down and dirty, there’s drama, you haven’t slept, your hair is gray. So much effort can go into something—a fashion show is eight minutes. And yet it takes five months to plan them. This is true of any industry, really. So many industries have so much more work than anyone sees or imagines.
A piece of professional advice that has stuck with me
Sallie Krawcheck [the CEO and cofounder of Ellevest] said this to me—if women talked about money the way they talk about sex and children, we’d probably be a lot closer to closing the wage gap than we are today. When you start to look at what our default is when women are around women…obviously, I have three kids, so my default is kids, but if we just said to each other, “Did you get bitcoin? What stocks are you doing? How much of a raise did you ask for?” the deal flow and camaraderie that would come from that could be really life-changing. It’s a habit, it’s not comfortable, but I do try to talk about it with women more now than ever. I feel not only am I learning, but it’s an opportunity for so many others to reframe how they’re thinking.
How I learned to set boundaries
I think it’s important to note that your boundaries as a human will always be evolving and your priorities will always be shifting. I did a whole lot of boundary testing after I had my first kid—before that, I had worked to 10 or 11 every night and on the weekends and it was fine. And then I had my first kid and said, “I want to be a present mom. Let me take him on my work trips, how does that feel? Let me leave him, how does that feel?” And I was like, “Okay, I gotta go with my gut here—is it a pain in the ass that he’s with me? That I’m not sleeping on the airplane or getting to relax? That I have to schlep all the pumps and the diapers and whatever? Yes. But I don’t want to miss my kid.” And then you have another kid, and another, and work gets crazy, and I just started testing. A couple years ago I said, “What happens if I don’t reply to the email?” Guess what! That person gets to have a great weekend, and I get to relax. Obviously, there are times when it’s not in your control. Pre–Fashion Week I don’t have any boundaries. I’m sacrificing sleep, I’m stressed. I just tell myself: It’s a temporary time when I’ve chosen to rip off all the boundaries, and I know that as soon as this dies down, I can go back to what felt good to me.
How I escape if I’m having a bad day
My method is to put my phone as far away from myself as I can and spend time with my kids. There’s the kind of spending time with them that I do often, where I’m thinking about work and I’m not really present, and I hate that. But sometimes I’m like, “Screw it, I don’t care what’s coming into my inbox, let me dive into my three-year-old’s world.” That, for me, is incredibly relaxing. Of course, I would never say no to laying on the beach!
My favorite low-stakes treat if I’ve had a particularly good day
My three-year-old and I like these organic chips—they’re called Good Crisps, but they taste exactly like a Pringle. I’ll definitely down a half a container of those if I’m feeling celebratory. I’m dry right now, so I’m not indulging in alcohol, but I’ve been doing a lot of Netflix bingeing, so I’ll get my Pringles and I’ll just watch TV for a couple of hours in silence.
My favorite thing about my job
My favorite thing is whenever I meet my customer. This year I’ve met a lot less of her, but I talk to her a lot online. There’s always a story about why she got the Rebecca Minkoff, and it isn’t just “I looked pretty.” It’s because she looked confident or was celebrating a raise or a milestone moment. That always makes me happy. And then on the flip side, with my nonprofit, The Female Founder Collective, knowing that we’re also helping female founders be more successful. I hear stories like, “Because of your collective, I went on to raise capital,” or, “Because of your collective, I went on to find a business partner.” I’m like, Great: I’m dressing the powerful woman, and now I'm helping to make sure that she succeeds at her business. That’s a double reward.
My workday essentials
I’m not plugging this because I know the person; I truly am obsessed with this product! It’s called Perfect Amino Electrolytes and the company is called Body Health. It’s an amino acid electrolyte blend that gives your body protein and electrolytes. I’m addicted to it—I drink it like three times a day, I’m far less hungry and more focused. I think people probably don’t get the protein that they ultimately need.
As far as things around my desk that make me feel good—I have some heart-shaped cactuses from a female-founded plant company, The Sill, because I like having greenery around me.
$54.00, The Sill
There’s a really great skin-care company called Linné—they have a revitalizing face oil I feel like gives me a nice glow for all my Zooms; it’s called Balance. And then I'll throw on a little bit of Merit no-makeup makeup; that always makes me feel good. And then, I know this sounds trite, but putting on my own perfume makes me feel…I enjoy smelling it as I’m working! Sometimes I’ll spray my desk area or put on a little before I wear it for the day.
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.
Originally Appeared on Glamour