“Just having good product isn’t enough anymore,” said Uri Minkoff. “You have to stand for something. You have to create a community. You have to create a movement.”
The chief executive officer and cofounder of Rebecca Minkoff discussed his philosophy on nurturing a brand’s vision, which in this case meant one that prizes authenticity though a strong sisterhood.
The first thing to know about the brand is that Rebecca Minkoff is a real person, her brother said.
“Rebecca is an authentic female Millennial who is very engaged with our audience and the community,” he explained. “It’s the authentic journey of being 25 years old when we started to where she is today.
“We are a brand of firsts,” he continued. “We focus on this woman who is graduating university, she’s starting her first dating, she’s looking for her first job, moving to that city for the first time. There are five to six major changes in her life that are going on over a five- to 10-year period and we are that brand for her in that period and Rebecca becomes that key authority.”
Once the two cofounders had distilled that Rebecca’s core value was to “help women lead a more fearless life,” they set about ways to not just connect the brand to the customer but cultivate relationships between customers. One example of which was to invite 20 to 30 female leaders from various fields to the stores for dinner parties, calling the series “RM Superwomen.”
Using that philosophy, the brand has not only navigated an increasingly politicized environment, but also thrived in it.
During the Women’s March last year, the company lent its voice to the movement, producing clothing that bore feminist slogans like “The Force is Female” or “Girl Power.” The items quickly sold out several times over, with some still back-ordered.
Acknowledging that it was a “super risky” move — one only needs to think of the many controversies surrounding dressing the U.S. First Lady to realize the pitfalls — Minkoff said it succeeded because it came from a place of authenticity.
“[Rebecca] said, ‘This is my journey. This is my message. I have to stand for something or else I stand for nothing,'” Minkoff said. “Those that stand for something in this day and age are going to find an audience. There are eight billion people out there.”
While there were a few negative comments on social media about the brand’s support of the Women’s March, they were firmly in the minority.
“We didn’t just post one piece of content, we posted probably around 30,” Minkoff said of the Women’s March. “We saw other brands that either opted out or posted one or two and they got really attacked by their audience. But because this has been front and center, and [Rebecca’s] been building the story over several years, we maybe had five or six people that said something that out of 30 pieces of content with all the comments that could be there about this.”
In addition to a significant donation to the march, Rebecca has worked for several years as the head of Intel’s $3 million push to promote more female equality in STEM fields.
“She’s always been at the forefront. Yes, they are commercial products but this is something that stands next to it,” Minkoff said.