Picture an early-stage entrepreneur, and you probably imagine someone working into the wee hours, caffeine in hand and computer aglow. For women entrepreneurs, there’s often an added twist–young children, asleep down the hall.
“Women entrepreneurs are doing everything in stolen moments,” says Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation. “At 1:00 a.m., when they finally have time to themselves, they need resources.”
That need is the animus behind the foundation’s new website, designed to provide women entrepreneurs with everything from lofty inspiration to practical tools. Burch, founder and CEO of an eponymous fashion empire worth $3 billion, established the foundation in 2009. The foundation’s destination site, unveiled today, represents an attempt to leverage the Tory Burch brand in support of women looking to follow a similar path.
“One of the greatest obstacles I face to this day is balancing work and family, and I know that many of our entrepreneurs feel the same way,” Burch tells Fast Company. “Women entrepreneurs want credible information that they can easily access.”
Tory Burch LLC and Burch personally fund the majority of the foundation’s programs. Through partners, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, the foundation provides women with access to capital, business education, and mentorship. The revamped website augments those initiatives with online tools, like a business plan builder, and “words of wisdom” featuring successful entrepreneurs.
“I think a lot of women are proud of Tory, they feel inspired by her. It’s somebody they feel they can connect with and identify with,” Fabiano says. “That gives us a great advantage in terms of just reaching and helping people. It’s a comfortable resource that’s not intimidating.”
To further combat the intimidation that many women entrepreneurs feel, Burch recommends investing time with mentors. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice—people often find it flattering,” she says. “I also encourage entrepreneurs to reach out to people in other sectors. If you keep an open mind, you can learn so much from men and women in completely different industries.”
Men and women? Yes: “Men need to be part of the conversation,” she says. Even if simply to calm that wakeful child down the hall.