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Rebecca Minkoff locks herself in the bathroom so her kids won’t interrupt work calls

The designer explains how she’s running her $100 million fashion brand from home—as well as a Sunday spent outdoors that felt almost “pre-corona.”

Rebecca Minkoff locks herself in the bathroom so her kids won’t interrupt work calls
[Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images]
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Rebecca Minkoff, the doyenne of crossbody bags, has been sheltering in place for weeks, running her $100 million fashion brand from Long Island. Like many working parents, Minkoff now finds herself wrangling three children—including a toddler—while trying to juggle podcast recordings and virtual meetings. So Minkoff has gotten creative with her schedule, carving out time for her kids and exercise.

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“I was literally on calls back to back prior to last week, and it wasn’t good for anybody,” she told me this week. “I was being so type A about my schedule, to maximize every hour of the day. And I was like, you know what, that isn’t real right now. It’s okay if I have a lull. I need to be okay with that.”

[Photo: courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff]
And as for the advice that you should dress like you’re going to work, even while confined to your home office? Minkoff, ever the trendsetter, doesn’t abide by it. “Most days I am in my pajamas until my [Instagram live video], when I put on a Rebecca Minkoff top and keep my sweats on bottom,” she divulged. “On days when I work out, I am in my workout clothes until I get ready once again for my Instagram live. The only time I am getting really, really dressed for is creating content.”

We caught up with Minkoff as part of Fast Company’s “Day On, Day Off” series, in which we ask inspiring founders, creatives, and business leaders to share the details of a day on the job and a day off the clock—if there is such a thing while quarantined. Minkoff walked us through a day of working from home in the time of coronavirus, from overseeing remote learning to filling her Instagram queue, as well as a Sunday spent outdoors that felt almost “pre-corona.”

Day on

8:30 a.m. I have a two-year-old who I was weaning prior to all this. But now that I’m around all day and all night, he is not having it. He started not sleeping through the night and demanding to be fed, and when they’re two and intelligent beings, you can’t just let them cry it out. So I actually sleep in my daughter’s room—there are two twin beds. And then my [two year old] sleeps with my husband in the master bedroom with my other son because I kicked him out of his bed.

In a way, it’s a blessing because I actually get to sleep in more than I have in the past. [My son] wakes up around 7 a.m. Being that I’m in another room, I don’t usually hear what’s going on, and my husband is an early bird anyway. So I get to wake up with my daughter around 8:15 or 8:30. I [go] downstairs, and coffee is the first thing I need to have. And then my son sees me, and he needs his dose of boob for the morning. So I’m drinking my coffee and catching up on social commentary while he’s feeding. It’s myself and one other person who manage social media for the brand, so we sort of divide and conquer.

9 a.m. I begin to get a handle on the homeschooling that the children need. They send a report every morning with all the stuff you have to download and print out. So my husband and I just get it all ready for them, and we make them breakfast. And I’m not going to lie: While that’s happening, the kids are watching TV.

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Our nanny is also with us. She was not a live-in [nanny] before, but [now] she lives with us four days of the week. So she’s helping with the two-year-old while we’re focusing on the [other] kids. My husband is also working full-time, so if both of us are out, we just rely on her.

10 a.m. We have our daily management meeting. There are 10 of us on the phone, and every single person talks about what they’re doing for their area and any coordination that has to take place. That usually lasts about an hour and a half. On this call, I’m the one to go last, so I’m able to be in the room on mute [while my kids are remote learning] if they have questions. But every morning I’m like ‘Guys, for the next hour and a half, please don’t talk to me.’ My husband knows that’s the time where we’re planning our day and weeks.

I’ll go into my bedroom and lock the door for calls that can’t be interrupted. If I really need it to be rock solid quiet, like when I’m recording my podcast, I lock myself in the bathroom.

11:30 a.m. My eight-year-old can do almost everything on his own, but my five-year-old needs almost one-on-one help the whole time. The first week [of quarantine], I was working straight through, but now I block off 11:30 to 1:00 to finish their assignments. If you barrel them through—not that people want to do that, my daughter hates it—it takes about two hours. So if I work with them for that hour and a half, I can get them pretty close to being done for the day. Then they can play or do other things, and I’m not starting and stopping things.

I also cook lunch for everyone and clean up. My husband and I alternate who’s cooking.

1 p.m. I have my regular podcast, but I’m doing these short 15-minute episodes with people specifically around an actionable tool or resource. My first one was with Sallie Krawcheck. We talked about what you do with your money if you have any left right now. And if you don’t have money or have lost your job, what do you do? So I’m doing one a week and launching them as bonus episodes. Then I did an interview with CNN Business about navigating this [time] as a founder.

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2 p.m. One thing I’ve been taking the lead on is doing a lot of cross-promotional marketing with brands [such as Madison Reed and Pomp & Whimsy], trying to get as many new eyeballs on our site and emails as possible. One of my most engaged Instagram posts yet [was a quote]: “We are about three weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair color.” I also needed badly to dye my hair and had been going to Madison Reed. So I just called the CEO and said let’s structure something fun—I’ll do a time-lapse and how-to and promote it with a swipe up and discount to my audience.

We’re all hurting for business and eyeballs, so I’m going to scratch your back and you’re going to scratch mine. I usually have about an hour of these types of calls every day, where I’m working out the logistics with those brands. We’re also working with influencers like Happily Grey or publishers who are getting affiliate revenue for promoting the brand.

3 p.m. I shoot a video about how to make a mask [with a Rebecca Minkoff scarf]. I try to shoot product every day for at least an hour—either photos, videos, or stories. If I have a willing husband, he’ll shoot me; if I don’t, I’ll shoot myself. I literally [use] my phone, and that’s it. I have time reserved on the calendar, so that every day for an hour, I’m just creating content. We obviously had content we had created for this time period pre-corona, but I want to make content that’s more relevant, timely, and appropriate.

4 p.m. I go on a 30-minute run. By that time, I just need a break from technology and talking and outputting. I just need 30 minutes of me time and some sort of exercise. I don’t have the bike, but I’ve also been doing Peloton classes or Sculpt Society [workouts]. Then once evening hits, I can devote myself to the kids.

5 p.m. I’ve been doing [a series called] “The Happiest Hour,” which is just live Instagram interviews. It’s just to take people’s mind off the day—there’s no agenda with it other than to talk and have fun. If you can learn something outside of the news, that’s great.

5:45 p.m. By this time, my husband and I have managed to have a conversation and talk about dinner. And we love to cook, so we’re not just trying to do bare-bones survival. So we get really excited about what we’re going to make each night.

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6:30 p.m. What’s been nice is we’re all sitting down as a family and having dinner together, which never happened before this because the kids would eat before we got home. So we have dinner, and then the kids go into the playroom and they get a movie, because by then, I’m done. My husband and I attempt to watch something. Recently we’ve been having crazy Lego parties, so we did Legos for an hour [before the] movie.

10 p.m. Our kids don’t really have a bedtime. At 10, we feel like we’re awful parents, so that’s the cap. I take the baby and my daughter and put those two to sleep. By that time, my husband is kind of already passed out with my eight-year-old. Because he’s waking up at 7 a.m. with the baby, he’s done by 10:30.

Outlander makes me feel not so bad for us. The 1700s were really fucking shitty. It puts things in perspective.”

10:30 p.m. I take a lot of vitamins and these two supplements that you have to heat up with hot water. As I’m brewing my hot water concoction and preparing all my vitamins, I check the news. I do a cursory check, and it’s the only time of day that I check it. I took news alerts off my phone probably two years ago. I never felt safe; I never felt happy. All I could think about was death, doom, and destruction. I was like none of this information is helping me lead a better life. It’s just making me sad. So I had already gotten out of the habit of the news cycle. Obviously on my Flipboard, I have the companies that I want to read about—the business stuff I’m interested in. So when coronavirus happened, I was like I’ll check [the news] once a day, but is anything changing what we’re going through? Not really.

I’ve been watching Outlander. I know I’m four years late to the party, but I needed something that had a lot of episodes. I kill about one to one and a half episodes, and then I go to bed by 12:30. [Outlander] makes me feel not so bad for us. The 1700s were really fucking shitty. It puts things in perspective.

Day off

9 a.m. [My baby] didn’t wake up until 8:30 or 8:45. We don’t know why that happened, but it was great. So I sleep in until 9, which I haven’t done in years. [On weekends], I don’t set an alarm, and if I don’t hear the baby up, I’ll let myself sleep in.

I wake up and put on a movie for the kids, and then I make pancakes, which we do on the weekends a lot. That’s for the kids. I try not to eat breakfast if I can help it. Lately I’ve been cheating, but I like to do intermittent fasting. I feel better mentally. I was really good the first two weeks [of quarantine]. But the scale was continuing to rise, so I was like fuck it, I’m going to eat whatever I want, and I’ll just work this out on the other end.

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10 a.m. We’re Jewish, but we like the joy that an Easter egg hunt brings our kids. So we did an Easter egg hunt with the kids. We’re out in Long Island, so we hide the eggs in the backyard.

The baby takes a nap around 1 p.m. It usually kills our afternoons, so before he could take a nap, we decided to go on this nature walk. There’s a very long boardwalk on the bay where we are, so the kids could run on the boardwalk, and there was no one around. It was so nice out that I was like, ‘I can’t go back home. Please lord, do not make us go back home.’ So we decide to go to the beach.

1 p.m. We come home and have a leftover lunch. We do Legos and lunch outside while the baby sleeps. Then I sweep, vacuum, mop, and clean downstairs for about two and a half hours. Cleaning is therapeutic for me, and the house needed it. We have a cleaning lady in Brooklyn [who] comes every other Friday, but we don’t have that out here.

5 p.m. I go for my 30-minute run. I think because I’m eating so much, I’m also trying to be more cognizant about exercise. We had driven by this little inn that was clearly closed, but they were doing takeout. There’s a hill next to the inn that the kids are running around on, and we figure they’re having so much fun that we picnic there and eat dinner. You can see people driving up and getting their food, but it feels kind of normal, like there are humans around.

[This] is the first day we did three activities. So it feels the most pre-corona of any of the weekends, but that’s largely due to weather. Normally our weekends are filled with a lot of activities—birthday parties and soccer games or [going to the] playground—but right now we can’t do any of them.

7:30 p.m. We come home and put on yet another movie for the kids, and we watch Hustlers. I had extraordinarily low hopes going into it, but it’s actually not bad at all. I’m impressed with some of the actors that I didn’t think could act. JLo doesn’t disappoint me.

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10 p.m. We have the same routine. I put my baby and daughter to bed, and my husband was already asleep with my son at that point. It takes [them] about five seconds to fall asleep. And I sort of take the night. I [watch Outlander]. I do my news check and vitamin routine.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About the author

Pavithra Mohan is a staff writer for Fast Company.

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