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Diane von Furstenberg: ‘I founded my business because I wanted to find myself’

Diane von Furstenberg: ‘I founded my business because I wanted to find myself’


[MUSIC PLAYING] Belgian born fashion designer,
Diane von Furstenberg, arrived in America in
1970 with just a suitcase full of dresses. She has built one of the best
known fashion brands made famous by her iconic wrap
dress and colourful prints. But her journey to the
top of the fashion world started with a bold
vision and an internship with an Italian
textiles manufacturer. So first thing I
want to ask is why did you found your business? Well, I founded my
business because I wanted to find myself. As a young girl, I didn’t
have really a vocation. I didn’t know what
I wanted to do. But I knew the kind of
woman I wanted to be. I wanted to be a woman in charge
of my life and independent. And so when you start,
you have all these doors. And my doors– my door
happened to be meeting this man in Italy, who had a factory. And it was a printing factory. And he also invented
jersey fabric. And I was an intern. And then I came to New York. And then I liked New York. And then I wanted to come back. Then I got married
and I got pregnant. And so everything
went very, very fast. So and then I came with
a bunch of little dresses in my suitcases
that I had designed. And then I was lucky to
live an American dream. After marrying Prince
Egon von Furstenberg and moving to New
York, she set out to establish her
fashion business. By the mid 1970s,
Ms Furstenberg had sold five million wrap dresses. What was it that was
motivating you then? Was it this desire to find– No. –yourself? My motivation was to prove that
I could do something on my own and that I was independent. And being independent is clearly
to be financially independent. Is there a particular
bit of advice that, as a young woman
coming to America with a suitcase full
of dresses to sell, you wish you’d had
at that moment that might have helped you? No. No. No. I don’t think so. I think I went– the great thing when
you start on your own and you are a founder, or you
are your own entrepreneur, you have a certain energy
and a certain desire and a certain enthusiasm. That you have that
first wind that you just have to go with the
wind and not be afraid. You go for it. And especially at
the beginning, when you go for it at the
beginning, you have no fear. You have nothing to lose. You know, less is, you know,
zero less zero is zero. By the late 1970s,
her eponymous label had become one of the world’s
leading fashion brands. But Ms Furstenberg is the first
to admit that creating a brand and managing a business
require different skills. You say in one of your
books that you don’t think of yourself as a great manager. No. I’m not. I’m not a great manager. So it’s mostly this founder’s
enthusiasm that drives you. Yes. The founder– the founders
have different qualities, which means that when you are a
founder, you have great ideas. You have– you can
make things happen. You have somehow magic wand. But then, I believe that
anybody has a magic wand and then you expect
things from people that may not be able to do. Are the two things
impossible to combine, the founders
enthusiasm and the– Listen, it’s always that
founder versus executives, not a confrontation at all. But you know, it’s a very
different culture when it’s the founder
at the helm, then later when the founder is no
longer there, it’s whatever. It’s a different energy. And at some point, you
need the second energy to deal with the
legacy of the founder. You know, so nobody
is immortal anyway. So at some point the
founder’s got to go. Ms Furstenberg did part
from her label in the 1980s to pursue other ventures,
including a publishing company and a home shopping business. But she returned to
relaunch it in 1997 and has been at the
helm ever since. In terms of the types of
obstacles that you’ve overcome, you must have learned
ways in which to tackle some of these obstacles. Oh, my God, there are
obstacles all the time, you know, all the time. I am– I have a lot of energy. I tell women to be
confident, to be this. That doesn’t mean that
I don’t wake up thinking like I’m a total loser. Still now, I do. You know, you just have to– and up and down
and this and that, but it’s always about
realising the truth, dealing with the truth,
practicing the truth, and fixing things. And when things
aren’t good, OK, well, how I’m going to turn this
into something positive. What skills do you
think you need most as somebody running their
own business as a founder? I think that you need ambition. I think you need determination. You also need a good idea. I mean, you need an
idea that makes sense. And you need to believe in what
you do and sell what you do. What’s given you more
satisfaction, your business success or your
personal achievements? Oh. You know, the family is clearly
the most important thing. And certainly, what
I– my biggest success is the quality of my family, my
children and my grandchildren. So I’m extremely proud of that. But I always said, “I had a son. I had a daughter. And I had a brand.” And so my children know that the
brand is one of their sibling. And that sibling went to
all kind of ups and downs, and this and that. But again, my relationship
with the consumer always stayed and because
I have a good reputation, sometimes I made mistakes. People usually ask me, “If you
knew now what you knew then, what would you do differently?” And I said, “I would
probably do a business plan.” Which I hadn’t done, but
things went so fast for me that there was no time
to do a business plan. What would you like
your legacy to be? Well, my legacy will
always be the wrap dress, because no matter what I do,
that’s what people will say. But because I became the
woman I wanted to be, I would like my
legacy and my message to say for every woman to be
the woman she wants to be. And I do that in philanthropy
by giving them confidence. They don’t have
to spend anything. And then my brands
give them the tools to be the woman they want to be. What would the young
Diane von Furstenberg say about what you’ve achieved? The young– you know, it’s
funny because everybody talks about the millennials,
the millennials. I relate so much
with them because I was so much one of them then. You know? And I was very much on my own
and fighting and, you know, and riding a horse with
my own little flag. And then sometimes
you look in the back and say, where’s the army? You know? And so I feel I relate to them. What would she say, the
young Diane von Furstenberg, if she saw me today? I think even– I think she
would say she did a good job. Yeah. [MUSIC PLAYING]

Comments (6)

  1. What..no Bill Clinton women voices count….you morons…go ask ISIS for permission to talk. Double standard BS theater for idiots. Thats you.

  2. Dude. Ur head look like a corn dog torpedo

  3. I love this strong successful & humble woman♥️ my role modeI i was fortunate to meet her in Person much love 💕

  4. good documentation ……..

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