If you have not heard of the brand Rebecca Minkoff, you are probably familiar with the motorcycle-inspired, zipper-adorned shoulder bags that grace the shoulders of young women ages 18-30 all over the country.
Rebecca and her brother-slash-business partner, Uri Minkoff, gathered recently to discuss fashion and technology with the hosts of the “Fashion Is Your Business” podcast.
The show was divided into two 45-minute segments. The first one focused on the start of the Minkoffs’ business, and the second one discussed the brand’s advancements and plans for the future.
The talk started with the beginnings of the Rebecca Minkoff brand—which consisted of Rebecca designing on her own, before her brother stepped onboard.
Rebecca was interested in fashion at a young age. She made her own bat mitzvah dress at the age of 13, and joined the costume department in high school after she was refused from a dance production because of her height.
In 1991 at the age of 18, Rebecca moved to New York City to fulfill her dream to become a fashion designer.
For nearly 15 years, she worked out of her six-floor walk-up apartment in the West Village. She got her name out in the industry after actress Jenna Elfman name-dropped her on an episode of Jay Leno. She then designed her first signature handbag in 2005, which she called the “morning after” bag.
Minkoff said this bag was created to take girls through real-life experiences, such as “not calling the guy back” and “quitting your job for the first time.”
It was from here that Minkoff’s business began to take off and she realized she could not handle all of the logistics. She then brought her brother Uri onto her team to focus on the quantatitive and technological aspects of the brand.
Rebecca, who had sustained her business from the start, gave her brother financial control and responsibility. He ended up mortgaging his house and maxing out credit cards to keep the company in business.
“It was the two of us alone until 2012,” Uri explained. “We didn’t think other people would understand what we were trying to do.”
Clearly, something changed, as the Minkoffs were able to obtain investors and banking partners and somehow stayed afloat even during the recession of 2010.
The Minkoffs created a loyal following throughout this time by visiting 30 cities in smaller areas like Alabama and Oklahoma and giving talks to these consumers.
Rebecca says these talks have helped her brand expand exponentially—it grew 546 percent between 2010 and 2011.
Providing accessibility to consumers in different geographic areas is also important to Minkoff, as she feels that her consumer has an attitude that can be found almost anywhere and wants everyone to feel a connection to the brand.
“A brand is a custodian, really between a consumer and a factory,” said Uri.
The Minkoffs engage their consumers in a conversation so they can receive feedback on what to change in their products. The woman they cater to is a young, trend-seeker who might not have all the money in the world, but wants the best investment that will suit the different aspects of her personality and lifestyle.
“She’s the girl I’ve been talking to since 2005,” Minkoff said. “There’s a romantic side to her, there’s a fearless side to her.”
According to Uri, “She has these moments that shape her life. She might go to coachella, she might get a picture of herself on that Ferris wheel but she doesn’t know where she’s gonna stay.”
The Minkoffs still consider their company a startup that is constantly growing.
The future products will likely look similar to the current ones, but Uri and Rebecca plan to experiment with 3D printing and offer more custom choices, such as different bag charms and interchangeable straps.
They essentially want to create a movement with the Rebecca Minkoff brand and grow in an unconventional way.
“Whenever we try to do what the normal path is, it never works for us,” Uri explained. “Our story has been so unconventional, and we’ve grown through every unconventional means possible.”
Though the podcast claimed to focus on fashion and technology, the conversation was mostly about the development of the Rebecca Minkoff brand, from its unconventional start to its accidental nationwide success. Rebecca may credit the brand’s growth her brother, but Uri attributes it to his sister’s perseverance and dedication to the consumer.
“Rebecca herself is fearless,” Uri said. “It’s about showing others they can be part of that fearless journey.”
Image credit: CC by Digitas Photos