NEW YORK FASHION WEEK

Entrepreneur and Designer Rebecca Minkoff Finds Inspiration in Female Creators—and Works to Inspire Others in Return

September 9, 2019

Designer and entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff’s first concert was Elton John, and now she’s a self-proclaimed “sucker for classic rock.” Her kids are really into pop these days, especially “Old Town Road” and the Mama Mia! show and movie soundtracks. Her husband makes seasonal playlists featuring bands like St. Paul & The Broken Bones that she streams while winding down at the end of a busy work day. And at work, she says she and her team “just listen to what we love.”

But Rebecca knows that music is more than sounds in the background. Music tells a story, empowers the listener, and creates conversation. And in her own work as a fashion designer, business owner, and podcast host, she knows that those conversations—especially with women—can inspire and empower the next generation of creators.

We were able to get some time with Rebecca ahead of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) to talk to her about this year’s theme, her musical role models, and her best podcasting advice.

As a huge music lover, what is music’s role in your creative process, and in your fashion shows themselves?

For me, music is always extraordinarily important, especially when you’re grinding and then building the collection, but also creating the mood of the event or presentation. As a brand, we’ve had music very largely incorporated into our shows in the past, whether it be recorded or live music. It creates a mood, it creates a feeling, and I think it’s incredibly important to link both worlds. This season we’re doing a presentation, so we’re going to be working with Pamela Ticks as a DJ.

What’s the theme you’re going for this year?

This collection in particular is inspired by the modern working woman and celebrating all types of female entrepreneurs or women within corporate America—the new woman who is strong, you know, who doesn’t take no for an answer. We’re taking a lot of older songs and making them fresh. For example, we’re using Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” but adding some beats to it and kind of twisting it up. We’re going to be looking to sort of use that old nostalgia with kind of new modern sounds. (You can find “9 to 5” on my NYFW Spotify playlist).

When you’re creating a collection, do you have any particular genre of music you listen to?

I don’t have a particular genre. I’m always a sucker for great classic rock, but I also love modern artists like Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I play a hefty dose of Beyoncé, Florence + The Machine, I think whatever gets me and the team in a mood that is a feel-good mood. I’m not one of those designers that’s like, “Oh it’s dark and somber so I need that music to play.” I like to keep the team happy and smiling and working with just that state of mind more than anything else. So I think we just listen to what we love.

Switching gears to focus on your podcast, Superwomen. What are some of your favorite moments from the show?

A big highlight for me was the interview I did with Katie Couric … And also there was one from Bozoma Saint John where I really love her candor. Both of them have an honesty that I thought was really refreshing. I think when you see someone, especially in Katie’s situation, who’s always in the interviewer seat, for her to sit back and answer questions and be funny and make you laugh was just really a delight and a treat.

What is some advice you would give to fellow busy women who are interested in starting a podcast?

Know your boundaries and what you want to do. I remember when I was starting out, I watched a whole video on how to edit a podcast. After, I said, “You know what? This is where I’m gonna spend the money to pay someone to do this for me.” My skill set is going to be in finding the talent and interviewing them and making great content.

Know what you’re good and bad at, and find a subject matter or something you’re really passionate about because then it never gets old. Anything you have to think about too hard will probably come across that way. So know your audience, what you want to stand for, and then partner with a great company to help get your content distributed.

What are some podcasts you’re listening to that help you keep learning in a fast-paced industry?

I’m listening to Recode Decode. I like to listen to the Jenna Kutchers of the world on Goal Digger or even Lauren Conrad’s Asking for a Friend. I’ve used some “how to” stuff to learn how to get more engagement on your social. I know it’s not juicy or riveting, but I’m just trying to stay abreast when I can’t always read. I usually listen when I’m working out. I take runs along the water and because I’m so distracted by what I’m listening to, I sort of forget about the pain.

You’ve done some mentoring with the New York State Council on Women and Girls and the Female Founder Collective. What are some things you’ve learned from that experience?

My work with both the council and also starting the Female Founder Collective is to just make sure that gender equality is something that is achieved in this lifetime. And that’s a high goal. But I think it’s possible. When you begin to break it down into what could happen and how swiftly it could go if you get many people and corporations on board, it is something that can be achieved. My daughter could make equal to a man in her lifetime.

And so I think it’s important to work hard and also to make sure that there are female entrepreneurs and leaders out there that young women can aspire to. If they can see it, they can achieve it. Just having more of those luminaries be highlighted is so important.

Are there any musicians that you really admire for what they’re talking about in the equality space?

Yeah. Halsey spoke at the Women’s March in DC last year, two years ago. She delivered something very powerful about her personal experience, and I loved what she had to say about standing up for women and our rights in a specific light. MILCK sang at the first March and then performed at my runway show a few years ago about standing up for equality. I thought her story about how she got other women galvanized was incredibly powerful. And then I look at what Beyoncé is doing for women—not only women, but women of color—and giving them a great example and a great platform to say, “We’re going to be here, and we’re going to be strong and powerful.” 

Take a listen to Rebecca’s NYFW Playlist below. Plus, check out our interviews with other NYFW attendees, including Sophie Elgort, Natalie Lim Suarez, and Anna Sui.