Eileen Fisher, 51, president and founder of Eileen Fisher Inc., based in Irvington, New York
Nine years ago, the fast life was slowing down fashion designer Eileen Fisher, and her work-life balance was out of whack. "I was always scrambling from one thing to the next," she says. "There wasn't enough time for me or my family." Plus the commute to her office in New York City was a drag — about 45 minutes — and she was just trying to get from the West Side to Midtown!
Fisher knew that she had a problem when she came home one too many nights in a row and found her toddler fast asleep for the night. "I felt disconnected — from him and from myself," she says.
Fisher took to heart the principle that her company was founded on: Simplicity is more than just a smart design principle. It's a sane life principle. "From day one, I wanted to help people simplify their lives. That's what my clothes are about." So Fisher took a risk: She left the world's elite fashion center behind and moved her company and her home to Irvington, New York, a suburb of Manhattan. Today, everything she needs is in the same neighborhood. Her house is four blocks from her office, and she can drop off her kids at school before work, because their schools are less than a mile away. Fisher also makes a point of leaving work at 3 PM so that she can greet the kids when they get home — moments of transition that are critical opportunities for finding balance. "Allowing myself permission to enjoy those moments makes me feel more present in every aspect of my life," says Fisher, who sometimes dashes back to work after the kids have been home for 15 minutes. By then, they want to do their own thing anyway. And so does she. She has a business to run.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.