Diane von Fürstenberg is a fashion disrupter and one of the world's most successful designers. Her product, the “wrap dress,” revolutionized American women's apparel in the '70s. It offered women a versatile option —working as both a comfortable business dress and as elegant evening wear. She sold more than a million dresses in two years. Despite her quick success, demand faded, and she was forced to sell most of her licenses to avoid bankruptcy. In 1997 she relaunched her company and now has annual sales of more than $200M.
She is currently president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and she is on the board of Vital Voices, where she mentors young female entrepreneurs.
Von Fürstenberg is an entrepreneur who understands the ups and downs of the business, pivoting and rebranding. Here are five pieces of advice for startup founders:
“As a founder, you have an authenticity and a human factor that is really special and that gives an enormous amount of energy and fuel. But as a founder, you're also not as cold, maybe, or as pragmatic.”
2. On Taking a Step Back to Refocus your Business
“It was time for me to show myself, and the world, that my success was not an accident. But I ran into trouble. We started to grow, I brought in a creative director, we tried to do too many things, and we lost our reasons for being. I had to find that again.”
3. On Living a Balanced Life
“At each moment, each phase of the business, you encounter new challenges equally as complicated but totally different, depending on the phase. For me, I returned to the dress and realized that it was more than a dress, I had to extract why it hit, what was the Zeitgeist, what did the dress stand for? That's the spirit of the brand. That's long lasting.”
“Passion and persistence are what matter. Dreams are achievable and you can make your fantasy come true, but there are no shortcuts. Nothing happens without hard work. ”