You already know fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff for her cute bags, her smart clothes and her amazing shoes. (Oh, the shoes.) But did you know she’s also the genius behind the Female Founder Collective, a network of businesses run by women that supports women?
The idea came to Minkoff last year and came together just two months later. Now the Female Founder Collective “seal" can be found on 2.5 million products (and counting), letting shoppers easily identify and support female-founded products.
How did she launch so quickly? For both businesses she can attest that a lot has to do with the help of a handful of ride-or-die business friends. “A lot of people ask: Who is your mentor? I’m so sick of that question. I had a network of women that helped me. They weren’t mentoring me or handing me a silver platter. They were like: What do you need? How can I help?”
Here, she explains the people who have been integral to her career throughout and a nugget of wisdom she’s learned from each.
Elisabeth Leonard, Director of Community and Brand Partnerships, Female Founder Collective
How they met: She started as a receptionist six years ago, then she moved over to being an executive assistant for Rebecca Minkoff, eventually asking if I would consider her as a remote employee if she moved to Chile. I tried it! She was that good. When I launched FFC, it was just me. I didn’t want to utilize many people on the Rebecca Minkoff team because they had day jobs, so it was really her under my direction, helping step-by-step.
Why she’s inner circle material: She is a get-it-done type of lady. There is nothing too big or too small. She really helped build the FFC from the beginning and has had a huge impact on the community.
What Elisabeth taught Rebecca: The care that she personally gives all the FFC members—it’s very personal to her. It’s obviously personal to me, too, but when I see Elisabeth meet them, it’s like: “How’s your dog? Or did that thing happen that was supposed to happen?” It’s always like: “OMG, the amount of knowledge you retain and remember about all these people blows my mind.”
Alison Wyatt, Co-Founder of the Female Founder Collective
How they met: She actually approached me last November. Before we met, I used to say: “If we could only get someone like her on board.” The she emailed me and I was like ‘Wow, this is my lucky day.’I was actually nervous for our first call, like it was a first date.
Why she’s inner circle material: She has an incredible résumé—she helped launch Goop and co-founded Girlboss. She came to me and said, “You know, there’s a way we can scale what you’re doing with FFC and grow it.” She has been so helpful in figuring out a road map for that. My brother is co-founder on the Rebecca Minkoff side, but I originally didn’t have that person for FFC who focused purely on strategy and partnership. It’s also so much easier to have someone to bounce ideas off of.
What Alison taught Rebecca: She’s a very sharp shooter. In the past, sometimes I was all about making decisions quickly. I feel like the quicker I make them, the more I can get done. Alison considers things more thoroughly, then when she pulls the trigger, it’s usually just a smarter choice.
Jennifer Meyer, Co-Founder Jennifer Bett Communications
How they met: Ten years ago, we had been considering the PR firm she worked at and, as we were talking and getting further into signing an agreement, she quit from that company. We were like: “Wait, we’re not doing this deal without you!” The two of us remained close after that. My former PR director from many years ago came because of a recommendation from her.
Why she’s inner circle material: She and I were having lunch last year and we were both complaining about the lack of resources for women. Really, the idea for the FFC conferences—two of which we’ve had thus far in New York and L.A.—came out of the meal that we had. We said: “We’re sick of panels and this culture around panels; we need women teaching women.” The ideation of it all started there, but then it was her coming on board and saying, “I can help you do this and bring it to life,” that was a total game changer.
What Jennifer taught Rebecca: Her balls are really big. She just doesn’t give a fuck. Nothing intimidates her.
Amri Kibbler and Katya Libin, Founders of Hey Mama
How they met: A good friend of mine was roommates with Amri, back when she was an editor at Cosmopolitan and we stayed in touch. When she launched Hey Mama with Katya, she reached out.
Why they’re inner circle material: We’re friends and I go to them with higher level things like, “Can you do this panel?” or “Let’s work together on this partnership.” But it’s really the network they built that has been so critical to my life. I joined Hey Mama two or three years ago and it gave me access to this incredible group of women that you can really turn to for anything. Two examples, big and small: When I launched my podcast last year, I literally saw the relationship between my post on the site saying, “Hey, download my podcast—I just launched this and need your help to spread the word” and the number of downloads I saw that day. It was the exact same number as the women in the Hey Mama network, which made me feel like they really have my back. Then, when I was speaking at a conference in Miami and needed a babysitter because I had a newborn, I asked the network: “Help! I need a babysitter in Miami.” Problem solved. It’s my lifeline for so many things, business-related and personal.
What Amri and Katya taught Rebecca: They’ve taken an experience that could be very impersonal and made it feel intimate. That’s definitely a feat.
Katia Beauchamp, Founder of Birchbox
How they met: I met her on this event called the Marie Claire Power Trip, but simultaneously we were cast in this epically failed reality TV show where we were judges judging pseudo-fashion companies. At the time, she had three kids and I had two and I was pregnant again. Now she has four kids.
Why she’s inner circle material: Being able to bond about mom things, but also pure business stuff has made her irreplaceable in my life. She’s one of the only people where I can truly just vomit on her with what’s happening day-to-day. She’s been through the roller coaster of emotions that is her company and she knows.
What Katia taught Rebecca: She’s this incredibly smart, Harvard Business grad and that really made me realize that I needed to get a lot smarter about the business side of things and stop just being in my little world of making pretty things.
Eden Grinshpan, Eden Eats
How they met: The same friend that introduced me to Amri and Katya connected me with Eden. I love food, so we bonded and since then, our relationship has been a constant and one that evolved from “Hey, I want to book you to cook for this dinner that I’m having with female founders,” to we hang out and our husbands are friends and are kids are friends and she makes me laugh. She’s another person that I can just be really real with.
Why she’s inner circle material: I don’t go to her with the type of work things I go to Katia with, but I can definitely go to her with, “Ugh, today was a shitty day and here’s why.” Again, just having those people that you can be real with is very nice.
What Eden taught Rebecca: She’s never afraid to just be herself and show the world who she really is. If you watch her Instagram Stories—or even just follow her grid—she makes me cry from laughter because she’s so open and raw. Nothing is contrived about her.
Suzan Kereere, Global Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring, Visa
How they met: Leslie Russo, who works at IMG and is a woman I’ve known forever, introduced us. I was just mulling over the idea of FFC and IMG was throwing a lunch so I could get the conversations about it going and Leslie said: “OMG, I’m going to have Visa attend so they can hear about this.”
Why she’s inner circle material: She took a chance on me. I was going out of my own pocket to fund this and it gets expensive doing these things. Her support—and that of her team—allowed us to make this so much bigger. At the time, I had literally just launched FFC. I had 1,000 members very quickly, but nothing outside of that. Suzan came in and truly believed in what it could be and how we could scale it and has been instrumental in growing the idea.
What Suzan taught Rebecca: The optimism and passion she has for women in business is inspiring. It’s not that I don’t have it, but I love her attitude of, “It’s going to be OK and we won’t have to fight this fight too much longer.”
Leslie Russo, Executive Vice President of Fashion Partnerships and Marketing, IMG
How they met: When she was at Glamour, she produced an event called, “These Girls,” that was basically a night of comedy at Joe’s Theater. Now, everyone talks about experiential events, but five or six years ago, it was a fairly new thing. It turned out to be this incredible night of female comedians and TV actresses getting together to do something awesome. I reached out to her after to say, “Hey, I love what you’re doing” and let her know that we’d love to be integrated into the next experience. She left the magazine shortly thereafter, but not before she introduced me to all the women who I was then able to dress. I got to meet Zosia Mamet and she became a friend and then my stuff was in Girls on HBO.
Why she’s inner circle material: She introduced me to Suzan (see above), but she basically got the entire IMG family in my court. She got the Wall Group to help support hair and makeup for the FFC launch campaign; she was able to integrate FFC into fashion week programming and pull together a really amazing panel of women. Her excitement around FFC was instrumental in getting this off the ground. I go to her with big ideas. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big fashion week idea or FFC idea, she’s receptive and honest. She’s either: “I can make that happen” or “I can’t.”
What Leslie taught Rebecca: The importance of offering kindness and willingness to help someone when you don’t have to.
Latham Thomas, Founder of MamaGlow
How they met: I was introduced to her at this event called Summit when I was pregnant with my first. At the time, I didn’t really think I needed or wanted a doula, so we just started off doing prenatal yoga together. I started realizing the power of having what my husband calls “a birth producer.” At the time, it was like: We’ve never been through this. She has.
Why she’s inner circle material: She was instrumental in all my births going the way that I wanted them to go. She was another voice in the room and an advocate. She made my experience becoming a mother the three times I have the most positive thing, which doesn’t directly have anything to do with my business, but it affects my mindset. As a working mom herself, she's always been helpful simply by being a person to talk to about that role—how to get centered before going back to work and how to make sure that your postpartum experience is something that sets you up to feel strong vs. weak.
What Latham taught Rebecca: She is someone that, when you meet her, you think she’s really fancy and glamorous and you’re like: How is she going to get her hands dirty? Then, when you’re in the throes of childbirth and she’s wiping liquids that are coming out your mouth and down there and she’s in her sweatpants and massaging you for hours on end and helping you breathe, you’re just like, Wow, this woman is here to selflessly help with one of the most intimate and powerful moments of your life. That is such a gift.