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Rachel Roy gives new meaning to multitasking. Just before Jones Apparel Group acquired a 50 percent stake in her business, the designer gave birth to her second daughter, Tallulah Ruth, in May.
This story first appeared in the August 12, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In between making a personal appearance last week at Nordstrom on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue — and generating $100,000 in sales — Roy spoke with WWD about new lines she wants to develop, her early days at Rocawear, which was cofounded by her husband, Damon Dash, and how she encourages her eldest daughter Ava to watch CNBC’s “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.”
WWD: It’s been such a busy time for you. How did you manage selling a portion of your company and giving birth at roughly the same time?
Rachel Roy: How was I handling it? You just kind of go into mom mode. Nothing mattered more than the baby and her health. Somehow everything happened to work out. Before she was born, there were complications….I went to work up until the day she was born, but I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t do dinners or anything social. I strictly did what I had to do to keep the business afloat.
WWD: What do you want your daughters to learn from you?
R.R.: I want Ava to be a strong woman who has a strong work ethic. And although I sometimes feel guilty [for not spending more time with her], I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would lose a part of my soul if I wasn’t working, and I’m providing a life for them. I really want them to be independent and have that hunger. I make Ava watch the Donny Deutsch show and Suze Orman [personal finance expert], although that’s harder for her to understand.Now Ava wants to sell her $3 Kooky [Klicker] pens on eBay. I told her, “You’ve got to think bigger.”
WWD: Speaking of earning one’s way, you started at Rocawear as an intern. What was that like?
R.R.: I worked as an intern when I was 26 or 28. His [Dash’s] point was you’ve never done this. My only experience was in retail. It was a bit awkward. I’m dating Damon and I’m working as an intern. Who wanted to be nice to that girl? No one. But I really wanted to learn the business.
WWD: Did being pregnant again affect your view of fashion?
R.R.: I became very sensitive to what’s flattering and what’s not and what silhouettes make you feel good. I saw my body go through different stages. I think that will stay with me. Also while I was pregnant, I couldn’t justify spending a lot on things I’m not going to wear for a long time. I bought some pieces from Liz Lange; I like what she’s doing. I mixed some of her pieces with men’s shirts and leggings.
WWD: Now that you’ve had your baby, are you excited to go shopping? What are your fall must-haves?
R.R.: No big purchases until the baby weight comes off. But Givenchy, I’m into his handbags. I love the chicness and the slouchiness.
WWD: So what’s next for you?
R.R.: I’d love to do a plus-size designer line. There’s not a lot of that out there. Having gone through a pregnancy and understanding a woman’s body, I would love to do that and design a line of little girls’ clothes.