The Laws of Style hosted by Douglas Hand Episode 13 – Ruthie Davis

The Laws of Style hosted by Douglas Hand Episode 13 – Ruthie Davis

“I don’t create the story, I like to listen to it to let it evolve naturally.” – Ruthie Davis

SUMMARY
Doug is joined by Ruthie Davis, the founder, designer, and president of the luxury shoe line Ruthie Davis. Ruthie reflects on how her upbringing in athletics influenced her designs, the foundation and evolution of her shoe brand, and the importance of collaboration in the creative process (including her recent partnership with @Disney Princess). Also discussed, social marketing, branding, and the importance of women supporting other women.

RUTHIE DAVIS’S ENSEMBLE
Shoes – Ruthie Davis
Dress – Cushnie
Bag – Balenciaga
Earrings – Isabel Marant
Watch – Hermes/Apple iWatch
Jacket – Rick Owen

FIND THE FULL PODCAST ON ALL MAJOR OUTLETS:
iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ruthie-davis/id1403034618?i=1000436508228
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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS AND NEWS:
To stay up to date on the fashion industry, follow Douglas on Instagram and Twitter at @HandoftheLaw, and Douglas’ firm, Hand Baldachin & Associates at @hbafashion

FOLLOW OUR GUEST:
Instagram: @Ruthie_Davis
Twitter: @Ruthie_Davis
Facebook: facebook.com/RuthieDavisOfficial
YouTube: youtube.com/user/RuthieDavisBrand
Pinterest: pinterest.com/Ruthie_Davis
Tumblr: ruthiedavis.tumblr.com
Web: ruthiedavis.com

TRANSCRIPT

Transcript

Douglas Hand: Hello, and welcome to the podcast, The Laws of Style, downloading to you from the Law Offices of HBA, high above Bryant Park in the fashion District of New York City. I’m your host, fashion lawyer, fashion law professor, and self-styled, well-dressed man, Douglas Hand. I’m joined today by a friend and women’s footwear designer, Ruthie Davis. Ruthie, thanks for coming.

Ruthie Davis: Thanks for having me [Laughter]

HAND: So, someone like me, you were a bit of a preppy jock in high school and in college. You know, you went to Bowdoin?

DAVIS: Bowden.

HAND: Bowden? I always get that one wrong, Bowdoin.

DAVIS: It’s okay.

HAND: And you were the captain of not only the tennis team, but the squash team so you’re a capable racket woman, a capable skier as well. Tell us about those years and that time and how you think athletics in a way informed your approach to academia to design and your life.

DAVIS: Well, great question because athletics had been always been a huge part of my life and they still are today, I’m what you could call a sporty girl. I grew up in a New England family and it’s just what we did; you were very, you know, you were outdoors, we weren’t allowed to like watch TV, we had to be outside, hiking, walking, skiing, you know, that’s just from day one. I mean, I started skiing when I was like two or three.

And so it was very much you know, the fabric of my life. And I think it was kind of the first place where I really got to express myself as an individual, as an athlete. Because if you think about it, when you’re a kid, and I’m, you know, from everything from a little kid to junior high to high school, even in college, you can’t really sort of perform on a stage like with the adults with other people where it’s like equal footing. But with sports, you kind of can, like you can beat your brother in tennis, you can give your father a run for his money, you know, where it’s like, it’s not like you have a job, you can’t like compete in the job world.

So I kind of found it’s for me, sports became an outlet for a way to sort of, like, have goals and to compete. I was, you know, and to it was exciting for me, and it was something that was like a larger thing than just within my school. You know, I was on the New England Tennis Circuit. And you know, I was a [inaudible 02:51]hopeful, which is like a junior racer, you know, they call it hopeful. I guess we weren’t yet—they weren’t sure if we were going to make it.

And I think, so I really love that. I spent a lot of time doing that. But I also always had a love fashion and how you look. And so, at a young age, my sport outfits were everything. I mean, I would, you know, when I was skiing, I thought it was a black tie event. You know, I just, I mean, I just remember…

HAND: And I think…I mean, this is a personal predilection, right? I think snowboarding kind of killed a lot of the [inaudible 03:28]ski style and a lot of the cool Bogner stretch pant looks that you saw when we were kids skiing in the 70s and 80s.

DAVIS: Right.

HAND: Yeah, so that was kind of like an apex of that look.

DAVIS: Yeah.

HAND: Did that in a way help inform your design?

DAVIS: In a huge way. I mean, you know, I grew up watching the Jetsons. I’ve always been into futurism. I’ve been into tech, I’ve been into sport. You know, I always liked the you know, like the James Bond girl in the one-piece cat suit, shushing down the mountain. You know, that, to me, is sexy. That, to me, is amazing. I always like to one-piece ski suit like a stretch Bogner, like you’re saying. I was wearing Montclair well before it was cool. I mean, I remember also just like literally, you know, crying, pleading to my parents to get new ski boots. It was like everything for me. If I didn’t have like, the new color buckle boot, like, I would beg and beg, and they would not necessarily give me these things…

HAND: Northeastern parents, right?

DAVIS: Oh, yeah.

HAND: That’s kind of the preppy ethos—what did your older sister have?

DAVIS: Exactly. I had huge hand me downs. And so I really, you know, and I’m thinking back in like when I played field hockey in high school, junior high, you know, I used to put together my quilt in a certain way. I always hyped mine up; made a little shorter. I would adjust my tennis outfits. You know, I…That’s back when bandanas were in so I’d wear the bandana and you know, I would have these cool outfits. And I really, you know, also…When I was growing up, I mean, I’m not going to lie, I’m not, you know, I’m older, I guess, you know, growing up like you said 70s, 80s. And even back then, like when I was in college at Bowdoin College, you know, cabinet tennis team, a lot of the girls who were sort of the jocks, if you will, they were kind of really good athletes, kind of dressed less feminine, you know, because it was like, if you’re a good athlete, you’ve got to dress kind of…We used to call it they’re jockey. It’s like a jockey look. It’s like, more like a guy, you know?

And I was never that, you know, I’d wear my high ponytail and my ribbon, it would match my skirt. And I used to love that, and I’d go out to against these other teams, and they’d be like, “Well, I’m going to beat that girl.”

DAVIS: Sport Barbie.

DAVIS:  Yeah, and then I would beat them. And that, to me, I used to love that. So anyways, this segued into what I’ve always loved in fashion, which is the coming together of sort of futurism, tech sport, and then function with high fashion. And so that has always been from day one. I’ve loved it and I’ve been into it you know, I remember when Prada sport launched and Chanel sport. I think that was in the 90s they like sort of… That was when I was working at Reebok and every time I’d go to Hong Kong for work, I would go to the, you know, they had these great store of choice in Hong Kong and they would have all the Prada sport and I would buy up as much as I could afford, you know, like, because it was like, “Oh my God, this is exactly what I like,” you know, it was like finally the coming together of the things I loved.

HAND: So, from graduation from liberal arts school, a great one, to some work experience and then getting an MBA and focusing on marketing. Did that inform your job choice in design or how did your first design job come about?

DAVIS: You know, I think I was coming out of Babson. Obviously, you know, I had run my own business, the workout studio. I knew I wanted to do something in the sports world communications, marketing, sort of entrepreneurial. And I had a couple interviews lined up, the first round of interviews with…Which are interesting: Gatorade, the NBA Association, and Reebok. All of which were in the Boston area, which is where you know…

HAND: All sporty.

DAVIS: Yeah, all sporty and all…

HAND: Different.

DAVIS:  Yeah. So I was trying out different things. The first interview was at Reebok, and I actually went in for a job that was sort of more marketing oriented, it was called marketing communication specialist. And, you know, long story short, I ended up, I went in for one job, and in the middle of the interview, they interrupted me and said, You know, this would be great, but we have this other job that you’re technically…

HAND: Hey, Bob, Sally, you’ve got to meet this girl.

DAVIS: Yeah, it was that kind of thing. And so next thing I know, you know, I just had the right elements they were looking for. I’d done that sort of the power walking the fitness walking with the gym I had, and they needed someone in Associate Product Manager in the walking division. And even though I was technically under qualified, they just like this combination of this person who kind of, you know, been the instructor and had an MBA.

HAND: Right. And a new brand because you went in to interview for a sort of brand facing job and I guess came out with a job in Prada. So describe that job. What within the Reebok Empire were you handling?

DAVIS: I was very lucky because Reeboks an excellent company, especially to cut your teeth on to learn the business. You know, they send you overseas, you go to the factories. You know, the way that Reebok was structured at the time—I don’t know if it still is—they had the silo so every sport was almost like its own business, own venture and so you had someone in charge of that division if you will, you know, whether it’s tennis, running, aerobics, whatever and so basically they ran it like its own machine and the person in charge would coordinate the marketing, the design, the sales, you know, the merchandising, all of that.

And so it was very much what I had studied as entrepreneurship. And so it was very exciting time, and I approached it from the get go, as I really wanted to know, you know, I was taught this is in my MBA to really learn the customer. Part of marketing is you know, the four Ps of Marketing and people is one of them. And so I was a big believer in really understanding the customer. So this was sort of pre Instagram pre…I don’t know, the cell phone, I think. I mean, it was like pre everything.

HAND: Pre email?

DAVIS: I think barely pre email…Yeah, I think we had inter office mail. Like, I don’t think email was like, in our… I don’t know, I can’t even remember, but it was like…And so really it was of all about, like, when I was in walking. I went out and started walking. I went and interviewed people. I walked in New York Marathon.You know, they couldn’t sell walking shoes overseas as well as in America, which were mostly white walking shoes. And I went over and walked this four-day event they had in Nijmegen, Holland. And, you know, all the executives, they had me write a report of my findings, and it was real simple. It’s like, they’re not walking in white walking shoes; they’re walking in brown walking shoes.

So, you know, I ended up creating this off road walking, like, collection, you know, so it’s like, this is what I like to do, these little collections of things that has a, you know, and I designed and outsold on the walker that was a map of Holland, you know. So that was the story behind it. And you know, these kinds of things. And when I was in the classics…

HAND: Did you get a trademark? [Chuckle]

DAVIS: No, unfortunately not.

HAND: [Inaudible 11:03]legal, it should have been.

DAVIS: When I was in the classic division, you know, it was so great because I did my research and the classics in the 90s, you know, they were the white with the classic leather jog or the freestyle, the princess, you know, they’ve been around for since the 70s when they came, you know, the company came to America, from London, and they are what people wear, not for sport, but just for, you know, hanging out. And what was lacking, and the reason they were getting a little stale in the market was because they didn’t sort of hook up with what people were wearing. And this was the 90s when the hookup was born, the whole concept of like, “I want my sneakers to hook up with my outfit.”

And so I used to take a bag of shoes and go to the markets, which were Philly, DC, Harlem, you know, me and my colleagues and we would literally talk to consumers on the street and say, “You know, how do you want us to make this shoe?” and a girl would be like, “Well, I’d like to freestyle and bright yellow to match my bright yellow bubble jacket.” And we would do it, you know?

HAND: [Inaudible 12:06]

DAVIS: Yeah, it wasn’t rocket science. And so I loved doing new collection. So I did this…I call them Classic Derivatives. And I did these ice colored out soles that are like icy blue rubber on the jogger, I did the colored freestyle. I did the chunky bottom. You know, all of these like, kind of new versions of the classics. And it was super exciting, got a lot of traction, and I actually got a lot of press as the Cool Hunter. They called me the Cool Hunter of Reebok. So it was kind of like I was sort of making my mark is being, you know, almost a stylist. So one of the things that I really—and when I talked to young people in design, you know, there’s many different ways to approach being a designer, and I’m much more of a designer where marketing and design overlap.

You know, whenever I design I don’t just like sit by stream and draw a beautiful shoe. You know, it’s very much there’s a brief, it’s like, who’s the customer? What’s the purpose? What do they, you know, what is their favorite color? What are they wearing what’s working now. And it’s more problem solving. You know, also it’s what I want, you know what I think is cool, what’s on trend. And then I take all that and I put it in a blender and design a shoe. And I kind of learned that I started honing that skill at Reebok. And that’s when I realized like, I had better ideas than a lot of the designers. In fact, my ideas would sell really, really well like, huge numbers. And that’s when, you know, OG started calling me and they basically—a headhunter called me and they were like, you know, we want you to come work at OG.” And they basically said, “We want you to do with the classic of what you did with the classic Reebok.”

HAND: So OG snatched you from Reebok? You had updated the classic program, and it’s still…

DAVIS: Well, they’re bringing them all back now.

HAND: From your playbook.

DAVIS: Yeah.

HAND:  I mean, I saw GG, you know, I know she heads collaboration, right? I mean, they’ve got one with opening ceremony. They’ve got a number of collaborations which we’ll get into that being part of the Ruthie Davis playbook as well.

DAVIS: Right.

HAND: But also just updating the classics. And so OG, which I know from being born and raised Southern California, has an ugly surf boot, right?

DAVIS: Yes.

HAND: It was it kept your feet warm on the beach. You didn’t really wear it in the street, and that’s what it stood for. And it had a great name in that little narrow market segment but all of a sudden, it blew up and they needed to find style points somewhere. So they hired Ruthie Davis, what was that experience like?

DAVIS: It was a great experience because again, I was…I feel very fortunate that I was sort of in the right place at the right time. The funny part, I don’t even… I really tell this to many people. This is insider information. It’s kind of interesting. So at first they emailed me and they said they were focusing more—I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Simple Shoes.

HAND: Yes. Is it Southern California?

DAVIS: Yes, it’s the same. Well, they’re owned by Deckers Outdoor Corporation which owned Simple and OG and Teva Sports Sandals. Those are their three brands. So they actually first started talking more about Simple and you know, they wanted to update that like the classics and make it more you know, everything. And then it was kind of a little talk of OG but it wasn’t like… it and when I went out there to interview that’s when they’re like, “Oh, well, we want you to do Simple and OG.” So it became…

HAND: The old conglomerate, you know, you’re not being hired for job, you’re being hired for three because you have three portfolios…

DAVIS: And this is the truth, when I went out there…And one of the reasons I also wanted to work there because it was in Santa Barbara, California. And I’d had one too many winters in Boston. I was like, “I love you Reebok, man, but I’m sick of digging out my car on you know, Newbury Street.”

HAND: [Inauidble 16:01]

DAVIS: Right, exactly. But what was really interesting—and they actually used to say this at the company they would used to call OG the black sheep of the company, which is so funny because now it’s like the superstar the company. And it was always an afterthought because it was like a surfer dude thing and it was like, they wanted it to be, you know, authentic or, you know, just to do its thing in the surfer community.

HAND: And it was very hard from that design, that iconic sheepskin boot design to envision much else, I mean, where do you take design like that to where it is now, which is candidly kind of all over the place.

DAVIS: Right. So basically, it’s real simple. They wanted a woman from the East Coast, where they weren’t selling dOGs well, as well as the West Coast. So I knew the East Coast and they wanted someone who had the fashion angle, and the marketing angle that could bring that to the design. And as always tell people I didn’t reinvent the wheel at OG, you know I just added the sizzle to the steak. You know, they had a great product and they still do. It’s a great functional product and they just needed to do some tweaking to make it more valid but in addition, they had never hired—I was the first you know marketer designer person they hired to be in charge of OG.

And so I put in a marketing plan and they gave me a budget. And you know, it was the first time I hired a New York PR agency. I did product seating in LA like to the TV shows, the studios so that they would wear OGs on TV because OGs is a very recognizable product. Some products you can see it on TV and you don’t know what they are if you don’t see the label or something. An OG boot you just see it so it’s like a really great for that kind of marketing.

HAND: Right..

DAVIS: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, kind of made reposition the product is more luxury. Like, because the East Coast we think of sheepskin as luxury. And then we did some more sort of luxury out soles kind of made them more weather proof because the perception on the East Coast was that they weren’t…

HAND: These won’t hold up.

DAVIS: It wouldn’t hold up. The Originals that were…

HAND: The ones I used to wear on the street of New York City did not hold up.

Nm Right. So we kind of redesigned it, tweaked it, repositioned it, and what people…You know, it took three years of like a marketing plan, redesigning product, all of this before it took off, you know. And it was in early 2000 that OGs became the hot new fashion thing, and everybody was wearing orgs with their, you know, little jean skirts and whatever it was. But it wasn’t by happenstance, this was a planned thing where they said we need to do this, you know, they hired people like myself and…

HAND: And you were out there the whole time, out on the West coast?

DAVIS: Yeah.

HAND: And so what was that experience like? I mean, you were such a Northeasterner at that point. How foreign was Santa Barbara? Or how at home were you there? Because, you know, again, I self described myself as a preppy jock. But I’m from Southern California, they’re kind of was, or is, I think, some affinities to certain regions of Southern California to certain regions outside of Boston. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

DAVIS: Well, I mean, I think I’d always personally loved the West Coast when I was at Reebok and just growing, you know, I would visit the West Coast a lot. And I knew I had an affinity, you know, I’m very outdoorsy person. I love the sun. I love the outdoors. You know, I love cutoff shorts, you know? So I love the whole like surfer dude concept, you know? You know, so, Malibu Barbie [Laughter] It’s always been a thing I’ve been into. So that was easy to adjust to.

It was funny though, because when I first moved outthere and was working there, I remember I used to shut down the building because they would all—at five o’clock everybody left work, you know, they all went surfing or whatever it was. And, you know, I had that East Coast work ethic where I would just like stay. So that was in adjustment. And it was some adjust to have the weather nice everyday. You know, I was like, “I need a rainy day now and then to you know, get caught up.”

HAND:  I’m like I’ve seasonality for a fashion person can be a little disoriented.

DAVIS: Yeah. Because the outfits are you know, especially because I like winter outfits, like ski outfits that’s a little tough.

HAND: Yeah. But all in all, mountains. Not that far away.

DAVIS: No, that’s true. And so yeah, all in all, I loved it and it was an exciting. But the main reason it was important in my career, is it was kind of like, I kind of tested the water at Reebok. And then with all it was like, I was a bigger fish in a smaller pond. And I really saw that I made a difference and it gave me the confidence to say I could do this for myself. Yeah, you know, I could do my own brand.

HAND: Right. Then you went to Tommy for period of time. And that was focused on footwear as well?

DAVIS: Yes, I was in charge of women’s footwear and marketing. And then of course, when I accepted the job, they then informed me I’m also going to do mens footwear marketing. Not mens footwear, just the marketing of it. They added that on. But, you know, honestly, I was planning to launch Ruthie Davis or my own brand. When I was at OGs, I was starting to think about it, you know, I kind of do what I needed to do there. And I actually had designed the collection and, you know, started like working on it simultaneously while I was there, figuring out my next move. And that’s when, you know, I got a call from Tommy Hilfiger people. And they really made me a great offer. And I talked to sort of my advisors, you know, in my life, people I go to, everyone was like, “Look, you’ve worked at a Reebok, you’ve worked at an OG. You haven’t worked at like a technically a, like a New York fashion brand, you know, you need that.”

And again, I come from people who are very into like, as much education as possible, you know. So if you can, you know, get more education before you do your own business. So I remember I was almost like, when I was given the offer at Tommy it was, you know, they moved me across the country and the whole thing. I was like crying because I knew I was going to have to give up my dream for a while. And I was like, I knew I needed to do it. And it would be good for my career. It would break me into Manhattan and that whole world, but I was sad. So I put my ideas on ice. And I do remember when I first started at Tommy, it was like in January of like 98, I think or wait, no, maybe it was 2001. I’m getting the years…I’ll have to pull my resume. I’m getting older.

HAND: That’s all right.

DAVIS: Whatever it was, it was January, and I just remember they put me up initially in a hotel. I was staying at the W Hotel because you know, hadn’t gotten an apartment yet, you know, moving across the country. And I actually had shipped from Italy that came to my hotel room, my first set of samples for the Ruthie Davis line, which I never did. I just like put on ice. It was kind of interesting. So I was at Tommy—and you know, the same things I’ve done at my other jobs. I was like, “Okay, how can I make it better? How can I make it cooler?” My whole thing with Tommy was a little bit too preppy. It wasn’t like…You know, there was a side of Tommy that I liked because he had a side that likes the rock and roll. You know, that sort of rock and roll side of Tommy?

HAND: Rock and Roll and Hip Hop.

DAVIS: Hip Hop.

HAND: It was vey music oriented affiliate.

DAVIS: Yeah. And when I was there at that time, whatever the year was, it was like they’d gotten a little too much in the preppy rut. They were trying to be to that and they had lost that other kind of appeal. So I really was working to bring that back. And I did shoes that were like a little more high fashion, a little more cool, little more street. And I launched Tommy girl shoes, which they never had had, that was like, you know, they had Tommy girl apparel. So I was, again, trying to be entrepreneurial. And you know, it was a great experience. And I got to understand licensing because I worked between…It was Stride Rite made the shoes and Tommy Hilfiger was like the parent. So it was like I had to be the go between.

But you know, it was a couple years in, two plus, maybe almost three years in and just traveling like crazy. And one day between trips to Brazil and China, my husband stopped me and I was like, “I don’t have time to talk. I have to pack and he said, “Can I just quickly ask you a question?” That’s like, “Sure. What?” He’s like, “I need like an update. What your goal these days is your goal to be president of Tommy Hilfiger, or Tommy Hilfiger? I just needed to update.” And I just stood there for a minute caught in my tracks. It was like…Because I’m the kind of person I really work hard and I get really into and I want to please my bosses and…

HAND: The blinders come on.

DAVIS: The blinders come on, and I just get into the cycle and I need someone to stop me. And I said, “Tommy Hilfiger,” and he was like, “You better get busy because you ain’t getting any younger.” So that’s when I really started to realize it was time if I was going to make the leap to do Ruthie Davis.

HAND: So we’re at 2006, roughly?

DAVIS: Yeah.

HAND: And you launch your eponymous brand?

DAVIS: Correct.

HAND: And the thought process…Obviously, there was a great deal of thought process that went into…

Male: There’s some noise in the hallways.

HAND: How are you feeling?

DAVIS: I’m good.

HAND: I think that stuff was excellent.

Male: [Inaudible 25:53]

HAND: So you had done the legwork, excuse the pun, in terms of understanding product and understanding marketing footwear product. You had some bonafides, given some of the vertical integration within Reebok of running a small business. Brand was important. You chose to name the brand after yourself. How much thought went into that decision? Or was it a foregone conclusion just based on the conversation you had with your husband?

DAVIS: That’s true. You know what, it’s funny because, you know, when you start out these things, you have big dreams and goals and you know, and then as time goes on they evolve. But it’s kind of interesting story when I actually…My original like logo and trademark whatever was actually Davis. And my whole thinking at the time, you know, was I loved Chanel, Prada, Gucci. And it’s kind of funny that I actually thought like, I could be the next like Prada or Gucci. But whatever the case, I wanted like a strong word like I just I don’t know what I read or why I had this on my mind. I just thought Davis would be a cool name. So I was going to name it Davis…Or I did name it Davis and I launched it as Davis. And I actually right from the get go had a PR agency, and the celebrities had some early adopters of the brand. And apparently, my PR people said to me, you know, “Ruthie, everybody thinks that you’re a man, because it’s called Davis, they don’t know your woman. And usually women don’t do such sort of like sexy, hot, luxury shoes. Most of that is men designers, you know, like, Giuseppe Zanotti, Lulu Buten, Manolo, Jimmy Choo, the list goes on. And so we think it’s interesting, we want to let the world know that you’re a woman because that’s cool.” So they convinced me to call it “Davis by Ruthie Davis.” So then I don’t know because I have all these different logos from the shoe like Davis by Ruthie…But it was kind of a long, you know? And so that was a mouthful, Davis by Ruthie Davis, it’s like why do I need to do that?

And then it was like…I mean, if you look at shoes. I mean, it’s usually the person’s name for like a shoe luxury, shoe designer. So I just was like, you know, Christian Louboutin Rosie Davis, you know? So I finally just went with Ruthie Davis. Sso I didn’t really think you know…

HAND: Did you have any conversations with any advisors at that point in time about it being an eponymous brand and then if and when you got to the point of taking on partners, taking on investors, even selling the company, or licensing the name out to a third party, that you have a personal decision to make in addition to a business decision.

DAVIS: No one actually really advised me on that point, for some reason. The only point they advised me on was to sure I had, like why when I incorporated that the name would be a different name so if you’re sued it wouldn’t be your name being sued Ruthie Davis, it would be the holding company or whatever. So I was advised on that but I wasn’t advised on that other point and if you asked me that today, right now, for example, like are you worried about that…

HAND: I will.

DAVIS: Do you want me to answe now?

HAND: Yeah.

DAVIS: It’s funny because I honestly, I’m going to give you the truth. Like, bring it on. Like that’s a high-class problem. If someone invests in me, and they pay me x gazillion dollars, or million dollars, or whatever it is, or like, bought my company, and they own my name, have fun with it, you know, I mean, to a certain, like…Let’s put it this way, I don’t plan on…Like, let’s say, someone buys a Ruthie Davis brand, and then they can do what they want with it, or they have my name. I’m fine with that because I don’t plan on launching another Ruthie Davis brand. Like I’ve done…I’m only doing that once you know, so if I’m still involved with the company, that’s fine. You know, I’ll be there to make sure that’s what I’d like, you know, still be involved. But I, for some reason I’m not that afraid of that like you can, that’s great. You can have my name because I figure if they if they’d like go down market or they do like volume shoes, I’ll just tell people, I’ll be like, “Yeah, they paid me, you know, X amount. Now they’re doing volume.”

HAND: Well, they may also try to have you adhere to a non-disparagement clause.

DAVIS: So, right, so that’s fine. I wouldn’t say that then.

HAND: Yeah. Well, you could say it, you’d just be in breach of the nondisparagement clause. You know, it leads to a number of things like that, that any investor or acquire would then care about. I mean, just by way of fairly recent example, last year during the Harvey Weinstein scandal. And, you know, really before the MeToo movement had had a lot of traction, Donna Karen, when asked for comment about Harvey Weinstein made some statements that most of the world viewed as supportive of him. And many wholesale accounts actually dropped the Donna Karen line.

DAVIS: I remember that. Yeah.

HAND: Donna Karen doesn’t own her company.

DAVIS: Right.

HAND: So that didn’t really hurt her. But G-III who did own the company, had a real negative impact there. So investors have to take certain precautions if the name is…Or john Galliano and his rants, right, like that’s an obvious business risk that you don’t have. It’s called the purple alligator. So, you know, there are conversations that, for instance, I have with early stage companies, if I’m catching them early enough, before they’ve decided to name the brand, that might steer them away from eponymous brands, right, or at least educate them and in terms of knowing what the implications could be in the context of a sale.

DAVIS: Yeah, no, it’s a really valid point. And you know, I wish I’d spoken to you at the at the outset. But for me it actually, you know, I’m a what a, like 11,12 years in to having a brand? And it’s so…I can’t imagine it with a different name because it’s kind of like the original job I told you the workout studio is very much…I have this hashtag Walk the Walk that I use, and I have to be an active participant. It’s really about me, you know, this is I’m a woman does. You know my whole story is I’m a woman designing for women. I’m a female entrepreneur. It’s Ruthie Davis, you know, I do stamp of approval. You know, I design the shoes, I make the shoes. I wear the shoes, you know, I want to represent for you. So if it wasn’t my name, it’s just my whole brand story wouldn’t really work.

HAND: Yeah, no, that’s a very fair point. I think a lot of designers feel that way as well in terms of authenticity. So yes, you are a female entrepreneur and a CEO. And while women as consumers far outweigh men by, you know, by orders of magnitude in terms of dollar spent, they don’t outweigh the presence of men in boardrooms and other C suite positions. Can you comment on any of the challenges that you face whether it was you know, more institutional at Reebok or OG or you know, just in selling the brand to wholesale accounts and those wholesale accounts being again, largely dominated and the C suite level by male voices.

DAVIS: People ask me that a lot. And I really think, you know, it’s funny because I almost it wasn’t just that I was in a lot of these like it Reebok and places like that. Do were a lot more men and women. And it wasn’t just so much I was telling the woman line, it was also the fashion line, because if they were very like, more techie, you know? So it’s like I was pushing the fashion angle. I was more aware of pushing the fashion angles than the woman angle, if that makes sense.

But honestly, in my career, you know, first of all, I’m very lucky, because I’m very, very grateful that I had an incredible upbringing and incredible parents and from day one, you know, they said you could be whatever you want to be. You know, you have to work hard—good New England parents—you know, you have to find your passion, work hard, you can do anything. So they never put any limitations on me whatsoever. They treated the daughters and two sons exactly the same. So I’m very lucky to have that. And that did mold me a lot.

And I do come from, you know, a long line of women. You know, all of my grandmother’s went to college. I think my great grandmother’s went to college. And I’m the youngest of six kids. So that’s pretty old. You know, that was like women didn’t even go to college. I know my great grandma, my mother’s mother was mother was a milliner in San Diego. So my mother was a naval brat. Her father was an admiral in the Navy. So she lived all throughout the world. She was actually born in San Diego, but she was a hat designer. So she had her own hat brand. So I’ve always kind of had this very strong female, you know, they all were educated and had careers. So it never was a thing for me.

And as far as like, the whole, you know, the MeToo movement and the women’s movement, the angles that I always take on that is really more about focusing on what I like to call it, you know, I’m a big girl power person, okay? I’m all about women supporting women. And I focus more on, it’s not about the men in the women, it’s more about the women supporting the women, that I think is where I like to keep it focused, because you can’t control everybody you know, you can’t control the universe, but as women, we can support each other.

And, you know, historically, I think it’s things have changed. And women are much more supportive of each other now, but I know that in, you know, women can sometimes be competitive with other women. And, you know, I like the feeling, I’m a big, you know, proponent of like, I like to be surrounded by women who are smarter than me, prettier than me, you know, doing more than me, like, I like that. I get excited by that. And it’s not like you have put other women down to move up. I think those days are done, where there’s enough room for a couple of women at the top.

So that’s kind of I think, you know, back when I was in the ranks, there weren’t as many women in the higher role. So it was a little bit of…I don’t want to say cat fight, but like, you know, it was it was almost like competitive within the women.

HAND: Yeah, there was only one role at the top and you had to fight it out. Yeah, we’re gonna make room and that’s based on merit, they were going to just fill what they felt was an acceptable quota of some minority representation.

DAVIS: Right. So I just think that it’s the key is for women to focus on supporting each other. And, you know, I think that women can do anything.

HAND: Well, recently you’ve partnered with Disney on a very, very successful collaboration, Disney Princess X Ruthie Davis. Never sure what the X or by or you know? The X is literally an X.

DAVIS: Right.

HAND: But a brand collaboration with Disney that we worked on together.

DAVIS: Yes, thank you for that. I appreciate your help.

HAND: But characters like Snow White, Milan, Jasmine. So a spectrum of Disney Princesses you know, some from really, really early Disney tales, fairy tales, to the more, more current ones. Do you think that that collaboration, or your business in particular provides a platform to speak to teenagers, young women, older women who you know, who can wear the product in a positive way?

DAVIS: A hundred percent, yes, absolutely. Well, first of all the Disney collaboration came about, you know, they actually found me. I had done something with Home Shopping Network with Beauty and the Beast. And they said, “Can we work with her directly? Do you mind?” the reason is they did their research and Disney is all about storytelling. So when they collaborate with into products, you know, they have a huge division, that’s all products and licensing of, you know, their assets. They look for partners that basically fit with the—perpetuate the story, that are in sync with the story. So when they’re looking for someone to do Disney Princess shoes for adults, they would like to have someone who can represent a modern day Princess, you know, and they were like, “Wow, this is great. This is a woman. She’s a female entrepreneur, she’s working hard, going after her dreams, independent, all of that.” And so they’re like, “We need to meet her because this could be, you know, this is really in sync with the Disney Princess story because that’s the whole point.”

So that’s how that came about. And it’s been an incredible partnership collaboration working with them. I actually work with mostly all women at Disney and they’re an amazing company to work with. And they’re very involved with charities like as far as, they have this whole thing called “Girl Up,” and it’s all about you know, it’s involved with girls, underprivileged girls, you know, girls who need help with different things, education, etc. They’re very much into… their hashtag is #dreambigprincess.

So these are all things that I buy into as well. So this was like a marriage made in heaven between me and Disney Princess. But in general, you know with the Ruthie Davis brand, as I always say, you know, my brother in law’s a brain surgeon. It’s like, you know, I’m not doing brain surgery here this issues, I’m not curing cancer, but if I can make women feel good in any way, give them a little bit of a confidence lift, maybe inspire them you know make them feel good when they wear my shoes that they can when they walk in the room, they have a certain posture, certain gate. You know, I always tell people I don’t design shoes to make a woman look like sexy or good for a man. That is not what I do. I have designed shoes for the woman. I always say for the woman to stand tall for herself.

And so I’m always…And you know, I mentioned Walk the Walk, I do like a sound bite. You know, I come from advertising people. So like #walkthewalk, I use a lot. And I was doing Walk the Walk back at Reebok when I walked a four-day walking event. You know this is a theme, a threading throughout my life where I like to be an active participant and practice what I preach and I like to like set an example for young women that anybody can do anything you know that you just have to like do it. So it’s if I can like, you know, giving back to women. I’m very into girl power, I really am and especially, passing it forward to young people. And they could actually be boys too. I mean, if they want…I like boys too, so it girls or boys or men or women, I should say. You know, anything, you know, I speak a lot to different you know, they can be business students, they can be designed students I’m on bunch of committees or boards of like an education committee or this and it’s always, you know, the same message, you know,

HAND: What’s interesting about what the fashion industry puts out there in terms of product? I mean, let’s face it, your products are not really about clothing as they are about an attitude and a confidence that the wearer can get from them. And that’s what high fashion items are. You know, no one needs high fashion items. You know, they’re not necessarily practical in certain ways in terms of functionality, they have to function. And given the height of some of your heels, it’s a marvel that they do function, it’s a high bar of functionality. But what you are giving people is actual emotion, positive emotion and confidence and, you know, the Laws of Style, which maybe you’ve read, maybe you haven’t, it’s good for this.

DAVIS: Of course I have.

HAND: Of course, you have. You know, that’s a law of what we talked about in terms of putting yourself forward in the most confident way that you can because if your clothes help you do that, then it becomes this positive feedback circle where people are looking at you a certain way because you’ve walked into the room and maybe you looked a few inches higher, and your chin was up, and then all of a sudden, you’re getting that feedback back from them and you are even more elevated just in terms of your personal confidence. And that can lead not just to how you look, but the things that you say and the weight that they carry, which, for a lot of occupations, certainly lawyers, is an important thing.

And so I think it’s great that you found a collaboration that also carries that message and you know, along with some of the stories that we cherish. You’ve done a number of collaborations over the years. I guess, talk about how those have come about, and are they similarly aligned with the Girl Power or Walk the Walk? Or do some of them just come about because they, you know, they’re just natural in the cycle of the company?

DAVIS: I think it’s a combination, it’s just most of most of it’s organically evolves or, you know, I may set my mind on something and just kind of go after it that I think is going to could work. I liken it to my entrepreneurial roots. I think it’s, you know, this whole thing of saying valid in the industry, you don’t want to get stale. And by doing these collaborations, it’s something new, it creates a new concept. It’s a new product, and I just love the concept of collaboration. In fact, when I launched Ruthie Davis, I actually…This was back in 2006, whatever. But when I was working on it was little before 2006 like happened in 2005 because, you know, first collection. So I used to tell people because they would say, “You know, you’re doing you’re designing a shoe brand. That’s so hard, like, what is it going to look like?” And they would have all these questions and I would…So I realized I needed a good sound bite. So I used to say, “Well, I’ll tell you what it’s going to be.” And they’d say,”What?” “Well imagine…” And don’t forget, this is 2005 so things…You know, that was a bit ago, so…Okay, “Imagine a Manolo Blahnik and a Nike had a baby, what would it look like?” And boom, they would just look at me with this look like, “Oh,” and they were intrigued. It was like this intriqued look. And it would shut them up actually, like they would stop grilling me. Like I would give them that.

And so I’ve always like, I love that concept. In fact, that’s the whole concept of Ruthie Davis. And I actually love…I just read an article in business of fashion about [inaudible 46:23]and like he was saying how a lot of people say that he you know, that there’s inspiration of other products, that whole concept, and he was likening it to remixes in music and stuff, it’s a compliment, it’s kind of like collaborating, it’s like you take a little from this song a little from this song you add your little percent of your idea, put it together, you know? Which I agree with him. I like that. I think that’s an interesting one.

HAND: Well, and this is the fashion lawyer talking here right, very little in design is is protected. For that reason, you know. Every designer stands on the shoulders of the thousands of designers that came before them and garments and footwear and even accessories have a certain configuration they have to adhere to. So it becomes very difficult to start to be proprietary. Over design, right unless it is truly novel. And that can be a frustrating…

DAVIS: But if you do this new thing, like we’re talking about collaboration, that concept, it does become new. You know, I know for me, I’ve never been a person. I don’t like vintage shopping. I don’t look to the past for inspiration, which many designers do, and it’s wonderful and it’s great and I’m nothing wrong with it. It’s just not me. I watch Jetsons. I look to the future, I want innovation. I want to see a new and improved version.

When I first started Ruthie Davis, I used to call it high tech, high fashion. I actually trademarked high tech, high fashion. And my whole idea was to…Like I was very literal, the beginning. I had a titanium wedge. I had a graphite here like my tennis racket, you know, which was great in the beginning, because it got some press and so on and so forth. But I realized pretty quickly that the consumer didn’t really care if it was titanium as long as it looked good or not, like they didn’t care if it was literally titanium. And the titanium was like really expensive. So I kind of like stopped doing that.

But the point is I really think that collaboration is how I designed my shoes every day. It’s like, and so it’s to your point, yes, there’s nothing new that you can totally new, but you can, you can do the new. And it’s going to have a degree of the old and the new, but it’s still going to be new. And it’s going to be something you haven’t seen before.

HAND: You know, it’s like a lot of creative processes where it’s an amalgam of what’s going on in the cultural zeitgeist. And I think what designers can rightly get upset about is when a fast fashion purveyor is not only appropriating that designs that the smaller designer, if you will, has come out with for that season, but maybe the whole context in which they’ve come out with them. You know, it’s one thing to say, we came up with the same a line skirt for this season, but we’re shooting it in the exact same way as this brand. We’re using the same sort of lighting.

DAVIS: Right. That’s a whole other level.

HAND: Then it’s fair to say I’m generating goodwill by sort of being on the forefront of style. This person can do things very, very quickly as just writing my dream.

DAVIS: So to answer also your question about collaborations and do they come organically and everything you know, I think that what’s important is you’ve got to like figure out your niche. It’s a very crowded competitive marketplace. And part of it is what you like as a brand or what your brand ideas but also listening to what works and what the consumers want from you and what the market wants from you. And one thing that’s been with me since day one with my brand is it was early it was adopted by the entertainers pretty early on: Beyonce, Gaga, Ariana Grande. And I always tell people they say,”Well, why these…?” And I say, “Well, think about it. These are women who want to feel great on stage and they have to move so they go to me because my shoes they’re high, they’re this and that but they’re ctually comfortable because I’m a woman designed them and I test drive and I make sure you can move in them because I’m all about movement. You know, one of the reasons I do a lot of platforms is because they’re more comfortable than when you see a stiletto, which is like, there’s no platform in the front. Those are the ones where your feet hurt at the wedding and you have to kick your shoes off.The platforms do not hurt.

HAND: And is that because there’s some cushioning in the toe there?

DAVIS: It’s because…It’s all about the pitch. So like, if you see it…

HAND: So the slope is less.

DAVIS: It’s a lot less. Exactly. It’s almost like a lower heel because you just higher up. It’s like stil. So it’s really more about balancing than your feet hurting. So that’s why I do a lot of platforms because they’re actually more comfortable and you can move better in them…

HAND: But you get the height, and a lot of women want that height, I mean, let’s face it.

DAVIS: Yes, it’s the height so but in any event, so people… I’ve always had this connection with sort of the entertainment world and all of that. And it’s evolved to where like, the collaboration that came about, like I did the Minions from Universal Studios. Now I’m doing Disney Princess, you know, and I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, this…” I’m listening, I don’t just like create the story. I also listen to the story, let it evolve naturally. And I liked that story that like the Ruthie Davis people think of it as whimsical and kind of entertainment like and marketing driven. And so they see me as being good you know, where entertainment and fashion come together, which I think is a very exciting new coming together in the industry, which I mean, obviously it’s huge now. You know, I mean, it they’re all overlap now.

HAND: Yeah. But despite Beyonce and Lady Gaga and other very famous wears, I think probably the biggest influencer of your brand has been you. So my next question really relates to how have you used social media to the brands advantage and helped maintain that that integrity and authenticity in terms of showing the product?

DAVIS: Well, the integrity is real simple. I do it.

HAND: So those are your legs?

DAVIS: Yeah. I mean, well, no, the pictures, a lot of them are my legs. Yes. It’s my legs and the younger better version of my legs. So I have a model.

HAND: Who’s your body double?

DAVIS: Yeah, she’s my body double. But her legs are better than mine. I’ll admit it again. I like having you know, I’m all about a woman can be prettier than I am, better legs than I do. So she’s amazing. And so it’s usually one of the others’ legs. And the reason I use my own legs a lot is because at the end of the day, people want to see my shoes and how they look in an outfit or how they look on the legs. And when I’m traveling and I’m different places, they don’t really want to see a picture of me. I’ve been putting up…When I put pictures of my full body up, it’s because I want to show my shoes in the context of an outfit. That’s why I do that, you know, because a lot of people, they think, “Oh, how can I wear shoes that high?” You know, they have this image of the type of outfit and I want to show them it looks good in this outfit or this outfit. But they really like what I call shoefie, which is like a selfie for your shoes. So I actually it’s, you know, I take it like, it’s like a selfie but instead of being up here, it’s down there.

HAND: You probably know exactly the angle.

DAVIS: I know the angle, I’ve got it down. And so a lot of them are…That is why I use my leg because I want it to be authentic and to show that I wear the shoes too. Again, Walk the Walk. I mean, a lot of my competitors are men, and they don’t wear the shoes. So how can they make sure they’re comfortable? How can they know, you know the context of a woman his leg and her you know…? That’s another big part of my whole thing is I—and part of the authenticity of the brand is as a woman I know what women want, I know what we like our ankles to look slim, we like our, you know, I know the parts of the foot to accentuate, I know how to make your leg look attractive. And that’s why I always show these leg shots because actually, a lot of girls’ legs can look really good in my shoes. I mean, I’m not a model, you know. So, it’s really about…And my belief, and one of the reasons I love shoes is because I really feel like they become one with the body much more so than any other item you put on because it’s part of your architecture. It becomes part of your structure. And so it’s a very interesting product to work on in that regard, because it really does say a lot about a person and it affects how they walk and how they move.

Yeah, but getting back to my Instagram, you know, it’s funny because I do do the Instagram. I do all the Instagram stories, everything. And I’ve had people you know who’ve work for me in a past and, you know, they actually are like, “Oh, well, you shouldn’t be answering their questions, like your Ruthie Davis, you shouldn’t answer. You can’t appear to be like…You have to be like bigger than that.” And I just remember

HAND: Above it all.

DAVIS: Yeah, see, I just don’t buy in any that.

HAND: Well, that’s the whole benefit for the consumer and that whole notion of authenticity is you can interact directly with Ruthie Davis. You can like her picture, comment on it.

DAVIS: She’s a real person, she wears the shoes, ask her how the shoes fit. She will tell you, you know, they do Instagram messaged me. I answer a lot of them. You know, I’m very into being down to earth and real with it. I mean, that’s kind of my message. I don’t position myself as like some famous designer that’s untouchable. Obviously, I’m not like a household name famous designer. But my point being is like I very much want to be the every person that you can do this too, you know, and be accessible to people, right?

HAND: Well, so as a female CEO, you present yourself in a certain way. I mean, the Laws of Style, I talked about how you know, a lawyer or other men who are white collar professionals can best present themselves and it’s usually for my money and tailored clothing. But how do you choose to present yourself? Or maybe I’ll ask the question in a different way and I’ll go into my four W’s about what you’re wearing today. And we can we can riff a little bit as to how you present yourself. So you know, the who, what, where and when, when being seasonal of what you have on today. Can we just break…

DAVIS: Statr with that?

HAND: Yeah, from the ground up, maybe.

DAVIS: Okay, great. Well, obviously, I’ve got Ruthie Davison.

HAND: And I’m noticing the platform element.

DAVIS: Yes.

HAND: Both style and comfort…

DAVIS: Exactly, exactly. Today, I’m actually wearing a Ruthie Davis shoes, Cushnie dress, a dress and I have a Balenciaga bag.

HAND: Yes, I’ve notice that staring at me all day.

DAVIS: I have Isabel Marant earrings. Hermes iWatch. And what else do I have on? Oh, my jacket is Rick Owen. Am I missing something?

HAND: No, I think you have some other jewelry on but we can…Maybe personal items.

DAVIS:  Yeah, there’s… Well, they’re little… I like all the Paloma Picasso for Tiffany’s because it’s the words. It’s love. I’m big on words and messages and I put them on shoes. A lot of the Disney Princess shoes have words on them? Oh, yeah. Do we say Angel? Okay, nice Angel.

HAND: Well, and in terms of seasonality, and it may really just be the shoes.

DAVIS: That’s it. Okay. No, that’s a good question. Okay. So I’ll jump in there. First of all, I’m going to tell you a few things about Ruthie Davis. I told you I don’t like vintage and all that. I like the new. I am obsessed about getting a fresh one. Okay, I like the latest, greatest, newest. And I never shop on sale. I don’t want sale items. I don’t care how great a sale it is because that means it’s old. That means it’s the last season, that means someone might have tried it down and put it back—not touching it. I am, like I said, a futurist, I’m always looking forward so I like…I’m always going to be wearing the latest, greatest, newest. Now with that said, of course, thank God for the real, real where…

HAND: I was about to say Mark Lee and Terry Leggett you know, they must all love you because you’re the consumer that they all want.

DAVIS: Oh yeah, I want the newest arrival. I only go to new arrival.

HAND:  new arrival edition yeah to shop only on know.

DAVIS: And you know what, it’s my industry and I support the industry, is way I look on it, you know, because I want people to shop new arrivals from me too at full price, you know. So I do it. I try to walk the walk there. So everything I’m wearing is like brand new season, nothing’s like…It’s all like Spring 19.

HAND: And then you put it on commerce once it’s not new and you take

DAVIS: Yeah, once I’ve worn it, I mean certain things are classics you’ll keep like that Rick Owen jacket I’ve had for like a while, like three years, like a long time. This will be forever, you know? My Ruthie Davis boots, I try to, you know, my shoes I they’re not they’re very minimal. My shoes, they’re very you know, they’re not trendy. They’re on trend, like, I’m big on designing shapes that fit with the current fashion. So it’s very much about the shapes than the adornment.

HAND: But you know, it’s interesting, you know, as you’ve described shoes is almost an extension of the foot or an appendage, you know, because that’s an interesting way to look at it, that you’re not really designing a thing so much as you’re fitting it within the woman.

DAVIS: Well, I mean, it’s how you walk around too, it’s like little cars for your trading. And it’s interesting because when I used to draw a lot and you know, obviously, now I draw shoes but when I was growing up, I’ve looked back at drawings and stuff I used to draw shoes I would draw like my ski boot my top sider not you know I didn’t create

HAND: Do you still have those.

DAVIS:  I do have. I know, I’ve got to pull those out.

HAND:  The respective if you open a brick and mortar…

DAVIS: Yeah. I have pictures I’ve drawn of cars like our jeep, growing up, we had a jeep. And then, buildings. I like to draw…Like I did watercolor at Bowdoin and I used to do buildings. And then I think back a bit in junior high under what I want it to be when I grew up, I wrote architect. So I think of myself still as an architect, you know, with shoes, and I definitely you know, I’m obsessed with mid century modern architecture. I like minimalism, like in my apartment, like my hobby is to keep getting rid of things, like less is more, less and more. I like the bones. I’m a bones person versus the stuff, like I like to see the bones of the building. I like to see…You know, that’s why I dress very fitted, very, a lot of monochromatic. So, getting into your next question about my personal style, it’s like monochromatic, it’s fitted, it’s playing with you know, mid century modern is very indoors outdoors. You know a lot of glass so you’re not really sure if you’re in or out, it’s all one level. I’m kind of like that with my fashion. I like to play with the cutout. I love cutouts. I love see through. You see me in a bunch of see throughs. Here we have cut outs, by the way. I like to like play with that and the same with my shoes.

HAND: All very PG listeners, by the way.

DAVIS: Yes, of course. I do a lot of clear plexi on my shoes, clear uppers, clear heels. So I’m very excited by either the space or the lack of space. And it’s really all about the linear sort of package. And, you know, I was thinking about, you know, someone asked me about, you know, what’s my look or whatever. And I was like, “You know, I can sum it up like it pretty much any moment, I could be ready to go skiing down a mountain.” Like I have a downhill ski racer look. I like an aerodynamic look. You know, it’s like, it moves.

HAND: Well, and you mentioned bond girl or bond, maybe villainous, right?

DAVIS: Yeah.

HAND: And this touches on one of my personal style mandates or one of the laws of style is looking capable and elegant, which they may seem at odds with one another but when you strike that balance, right? Of looking capable for action, but still elegant. That’s when you know, I know

DAVIS: You know, it’s that perfect. Again, that collaboration of those two things, the perfect mix and you know, I have read your book, I am a friend of yours. So I’m aware of your story. And I will tell you that I do very much admire what you’re doing. And I think it’s really, really important and valid. And I do think it makes a huge difference on, you know, how you feel about how your day goes, how you present yourself to people. I really respect people who are buttoned up you know? And I again, I’ll bring it back to my sporting, you know, when you had a sporting event, you had to be prepared, you had to have your equipment, you know, otherwise you were going to be cold or you weren’t going to, you know? So it’s like you had to have your hair done properly right playing a tennis match had any you know, had to be in place you had epic right this the right shoe, everything had to be like ready to go. And I think of it as like armor, and I think in the working world, you know, the lawyer world, the fashion world. I really respect people who present themselves buttoned up and polished and they you know, like you said there’s an elegance and there’s a personality sportiness but it’s respectful of other people.

HAND: That’s a very good point. It is about being respectful to others and the sense of occasion that you are in. So whether that is…And really the fourth W is why, why did you come dressed like this? And probably one, you had various meetings today that you knew you would be on and so to… Well, I’ll let you answer it. But, you know, a sense of occasion that you have over certain things, whether it’s a black tie event that we’ve been to together on occasion, which you’re showing up for work and looking work appropriate, I think is is becoming a little bit of a lost art.

DAVIS: Yeah, I mean, to me, it’s self expression and I don’t do it in a frivolous way. I don’t spend hours primping. You know, it’s not like that it’s more about, you know…Even since I was a young girl and just the family I grew up in, my sister’s, my mom, you know, we always laid our outfit out for school the night before. So, you know, my outfit for today was picked yesterday, you know, I lay it out, I plan it. I’m not one of the people who tries on 20 things before I know it. I’m pretty quick, like got that knack and but you know, I’ll figure a few things out. But I do want to do the best. I always like to be the best I can be. Iif you ask me to black tie event, I want to look as good as I can look that night. I want to wear if it’s a black tie, I should be in a gown. I’ve got to have a  kick ass Ruthie Davis shoe and I’ve got to like look elegant. I’ve got to get my hair. I’ve got to get my… I’m not going to shortchange it because it’s again, it’s just part of the…To me, that’s the creative outlet. I mean, it’s just what you do. And so, yeah, no, I’m you know, obviously I’m really into it. I mean, I love planning outfits. I love personal style, the whole concept of style. So it’s a hobby, I guess, also.

HAND: Yeah. Well, you do a lot of mentoring, both in connection… We have time for one more question, but I think this is a good one to end on. Because it’s really about you giving back. I guess, describe that process. I mean, you do it for your business school, for the CFDA. But, you know, maybe my question is more what do you get out of it? Because it is an investment of time to mentor, what do you get out of it? And what have some of those experiences been?

DAVIS: Well, I think I get more out of it than then the students, the mentees. I absolutely love working with young people. Anything that I’ve done that I can share, you know, I feel like why not, you know, I wish I had people share more with me. So I’m very vocal about giving them advice or anything. I always preface with like, “Listen, this is just one person’s idea. You don’t have to take me as the gospel. But this is what I think” But I don’t… I try not to preach. But I really enjoy the energy and the excitement of young people. It gets me excited. You know, I don’t have children, and I have a lot of nieces and nephews. I have a lot of interns, and then I have these people that I mentor. And that to me is just like, I don’t know, it’s like my thing, you know? So it really works well for me. I love doing it. And, you know, in fact, what day is today? I’m going to University of Delaware Friday, meeting the first kickoff meeting with like, nine students that… I have a group that I’m mentoring, we’re going to actually design some shoes together, some sustainable shoes.

HAND: Wow.

DAVIS: So I Like a whole thing I’m doing there. So yeah, I mean, we felt like I get paid to do those things. But it’s how you pay it forward. But again, I always leave more inspired. And I feel lucky that that they want me to come talk, you know, I feel honored because it’s like I get that, you know, it’s fun. Yeah. You know, so I’m appreciative of it.

HAND: Well, Ruthie, our time is up. That’s a wrap. Thanks so much for coming in. People can follow you on your various social media feeds at…?

DAVIS: Ruthie_Davis.

HAND: And that’s both for Twitter and Instagram?

DAVIS: Yes. And then I have Facebook page Ruthie Davis. I don’t think there’s an underscore. Also, Pinterest. And yeah, Pinterest and I think that’s all I do now. Yeah.

HAND: Excellent. And your website which is ruthiedavis.com

DAVIS: Yes. And they can shop on my website. And if they sign up, they get lots of special deals. We have like a special membership thing.

HAND: Excellent. Excellent. Well again, thanks for coming in.

DAVIS: This was a lot of fun, absolutely.

HAND: Take care. Thanks for listening

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