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Carolina Herrera Shares Her Secrets

On Wednesday night, the designer and company president Caroline Brown hosted Sallie Krawcheck and members of her Ellevate group at her showroom.

Caroline Brown, Carolina Herrera and Sally Krawcheck.

NEW YORK — Carolina Herrera founded her clothing line 34 years ago, after she had four children, and given its success, she clearly has something to say about building a business.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Wednesday night, the designer and company president Caroline Brown hosted Sallie Krawcheck and members of her Ellevate group — all professional women — at Herrera’s Seventh Avenue showroom, where they discussed building a successful business and shared personal insights.

“Carolina Herrera was an entrepreneur before being an entrepreneur was cool,” Krawcheck said. “And so the story of how she started such an iconic business and the working partnership she has with Caroline is of interest to our women.”

Krawcheck recalled how, a week after she was fired from Bank of America, she was scheduled to attend a charity event. Feeling slightly nervous about making a public appearance, she decided to buy a Carolina Herrera design for the occasion. “The next day the press reported how happy and relaxed I look,” Krawcheck recalled, making a statement for the power of clothes.

Herrera said that in building her business, “I had failures, of course, but you keep going if you really love it.” About her creative process, she added, “People ask me all the time where I find my inspiration. My inspiration is from everyday life. I want women to look right for the moment.”

The conversation also turned to the growing importance of social media and how it allows the fashion house to interact with clients. “We have a direct dialogue, not just here but globally,” Brown said. “What is great about Instagram for fashion, for example, is that it’s about an image.”

The panel talk was followed by a fashion show, professionally staged, featuring a selection of looks from pre-fall and fall. Herrera is also known for her sense of humor, which she demonstrated in her closing remarks. “I hope you all come back soon,” she told the crowd of women. “But not tomorrow.”