By  on November 14, 2007

Tory Burch took risks to build her brand.

In four years, Tory Burch has gone from mother and high-profile New York socialite to a bona fide entrepreneur — and her rapid rise in the fashion world has many asking just how it all happened. Ask Burch herself and she will make CNN the culprit.

"In 2001, after Sept. 11, I was addicted to watching CNN, and every time I turned it on there was a commercial that kept coming up," Burch said. "The commercial's message was basically about following your dream, going for it and taking a risk. It may sound odd, but it truly inspired me to take that risk and really begin strategizing about my concept of our brand."

Today, she has 10 stores; a wholesale network counting some 400 doors; customers nationwide for her Reva ballet flats, her tunics and other products with the Tory touch — and the attention of the fashion industry. At the WWD/DNR CEO Apparel Summit, the Philadelphia native chronicled her decision to start her own business, her strategy along the way and her hopes for its future.

From the get-go, Burch proposed a complete lifestyle, replete with about 15 categories, including jewelry, ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, candles, umbrellas and a store on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan.

"We have always made a point about thinking outside of the box and making decisions about the brand," she said. "Rather than launching through wholesale, the more traditional route, we decided to introduce our concept through our store in downtown New York. We also felt that introducing our line in a retail store would be the only way to ensure the consistency in the image and branding of the company. Spending an incredible amount of time on every detail of the store, whether it was the orange velvet curtains, the brass doorknobs, the comfortable couches, the chandeliers, the lights, the flowers that stood on the table or the music that played, everything was incredibly thought out. I wanted to go away from what was traditionally a store environment, and I wanted it to feel as if you were walking into my living room."

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