How finding myself helped me grow a fashion empire

So you want a legacy? Who doesn’t? You want to stand on an empire. Of course, you do. But what you don’t realize is—it starts at home. It starts with a solid foundation of who you are and what you represent. That is the building block to your success.

When I accepted my father’s offer to join BCBG as the Creative Director of BCBGeneration, I knew I was on the edge of something marvelous. This was going to be a big job, but it was also a big opportunity. I would not only be creating a sellable collection of clothing, but also redefining a subculture within a corporation.

Simultaneously, I found myself newly single after a ten-year marriage. I was ready to fall in love again—this time with my roots, religion, and culture. As I began to recreate myself inwardly, I was outwardly redefining a brand. I was challenging myself and my way of thinking; while also fighting to change the thought process behind a powerful company.

Being part of a family business has blurred the lines between what is personal and what is work. While this is arguably a challenge, I saw it as a gift. It allowed me to connect the dots and be reminded of the lessons I needed to learn, as a person and as a business leader. I’m not ashamed to admit, there were many days I found myself “stuck.”

But that all changed when I changed. I began to look for truth and live out my religious values at work. I was standing up for who I was and who the brand was. I fought to stay alive within all the materialism and remain focused on giving back and being kind. The business felt it. It followed suit. Everything began to change—the teams, the clothes, the energy, and me. Yes, here was a modest girl with strong values leading a top millennial fashion brand—and successfully doing so.

I believe that we are all capable of building two empires; one within us and one on the outside of us. Authenticity is the key to both empires withstanding the tests of time. And they both draw their strengths from each other. One cannot stand if the other one does not mirror its truths, values, and power.

I always said: “If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. If you stand for nothing, people can’t stand you.” Be authentic in your soul and your business will follow.

Everyday, I keep a pulse on the consumer and I have learned that she’s smart. She’s immune to lies—instead she searches high and low for authenticity. I continue my lessons by learning from her. If I am not real, I give her no reason to stick around, to “add to shopping cart.” So be sincere. Be true to yourself. Give her a reason.

And there you have it. Guess fashion isn’t so empty after all.