The Definitive Guide to Business

Why one exec passed up the chance to be president of this $127 billion company

Tory Burch speaking at the Vanity Fair Founders Fair
Photo by Andrew Toth
Tory Burch speaking at the Vanity Fair Founders Fair

Tory Burch is a fashion icon who sits at the helm of her namesake fashion brand that in 2016 did more than $1 billion in sales. She's ambitious, and proud to be.

But in the course of her career, she's also passed on tremendous professional opportunity.

In 2001, she got the job offer of a lifetime: President a LVMH Group, the influential Paris fashion house that owns luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, among many others.

But Burch — who had worked her way up the fashion corporate ladder, holding positions Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and Narciso Rodriguez at Loewe — had two small sons at home and was pregnant with her third. She was faced with the prospect of raising three young kids and being at the helm of one of the largest fashion companies in the world.

"[I] realized I just wouldn't be able to do both well," says Burch, speaking recently at the Vanity Fair Founders Fair in New York City. She turned down promotion to focus on raising her young children.

Tbt #lovemyboys

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Though it was the right decision for Burch, she didn't take it lightly. "It was very hard to leave a career that I really loved," she says.

Indeed, LVMH is a leader in the fashion world. Today, LVMH's market cap is north of $127 billion and the company did more than $40 billion in revenue in 2016. (When Burch was offered the position of President, LVMH was not quite as big as is today, but the conglomerate, first established in 1987, has long been a behemoth.)

"Ambition can mean being a stay-at-home mom. It's not necessarily about work. It's about having the confidence to live your life the way you choose to." -Tory Burch, CEO Tory Burch

In the end, Burch couldn't stay away from the business for long. She launched Tory Burch in 2004 with a retail shop on Elizabeth Street in New York City with her now ex-husband, Chris Burch. She wanted to fill what she perceived to be a wide and vacant chasm in the fashion industry between haute couture and Gap.

Today Tory Burch has more than 200 retail storefronts around the world and the brand is sold at more than 3,000 department stores and boutiques in addition to online.

Tbt @arthurelgort #lovemyboys

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Recently Burch's eponymous philanthropic foundation launched a social media campaign encouraging women to embrace ambition — whatever that means to them.

"Ambition can mean being a stay-at-home mom. It's not necessarily about work," explains Burch. "It's about having the confidence to live your life the way you choose to."