The Juggle: Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff is the founder of a hugely popular and successful fashion company, an activist for women’s causes, a wife, the mother of 3 young children, and most recently the creator of the Female Founder Collective.

She always seems to be everywhere, doing everything with grace, enthusiasm and style.  Here she shares her tips and tricks and fails for trying to juggle it all!


On Scheduling: Every Sunday, Gavin and I review our calendars for the week, and we decide who’s taking which child where; we usually split it up, and then the other one of us works out. So no matter what, we’re both getting up at like 7:15, and taking a child to school, and then the other one who takes the other child also has to hang back with the baby until our nanny comes at nine. Our nanny leaves every day around 6:45 because I leave the office at six, unless I’m going to an after-work thing, in which case we get a sitter or more often than not it’s part of those Sunday meetings. There’s a, what do you have that’s late, what do I have that’s late, and for the most part, we can usually make it work that one of us is home.


Our scheduling was very fluid until I asked him to do something and he’s like, “But you’re the one that does that!” And I was like, “Oh, I am?” So, if I had to dissect it, he’s very much all about the school stuff, and I’m all extracurricular and travel.


On Household Tasks: Whoever gets to InstaCart or FreshDirect first will do the grocery shopping. As far as laundry, thank god our nanny does it because that would definitely not get done otherwise. And she does light cleaning, too, because she just has the baby during the day, so that makes it a lot easier.


We put everything on automatic bill-pay, so there’s nothing to pay. It just is. And we try to put as much on an AmEx as possible, and then just get miles, so when we travel, the kids can live on miles.


On Saying No; Saying no is hanging out with friends and having romantic date nights. Those things suffer. It used to be that I’d be like, “Oh, come with me to the work event, it’ll be like we’re on a date!” And even that’s stopped. We close at 3:00 on Fridays, so one idea I had that worked for two solid weeks was to meet at 4, and hang out as a couple from 4 to 6. That happened twice.


On Prioritizing: In terms of the business, it was my brother who pointed out that you can’t do all this well. Not in a mean way, but either you’re in the back and you’re in the back or you’re in the front, meaning, if you’re gonna in the back, that’s a 60-hour-a-week job that requires all of your attention to run a team of 18 in eight categories; that leaves no time for traveling to stores, doing social, having the high-level meetings with partners, being out and about, hosting events at your stores. I tried for many years to do both and it was impossible. Because I’d be on the road and they’d be like, “We’re waiting for Rebecca to approve the Pantone or the leather but she’s in California at some show.” So, it was like, which one do you want to do? And if we’re not being selfish, and doing what’s best for the business, it’s probably that you’re forward. Because people relate the brand back to me. 


On List Making: I’m very much a writer and checker-offer of lists. I review the list every day and, as they get longer and longer, I prioritize them into urgent, pending, nice to do, so I’m constantly just looking at what’s top priority, what will move the needle faster, and then that’s how I approach planning my week and day. But lately, I’m not going to lie, I have sixteen lists in different pockets. I also organize them by subject, so if I really have enough time on my hands, it’ll be like, this is the FFC list, this is the Super Women list, this is the Rebecca Minkoff list, and then I separate each one of those into urgent, pending, nice-to-do. Sometimes I think people can get lost in thinking everything is urgent. And I’m like, it’s actually not all urgent. You need to prioritize, and figure out what actually moves the needle, and what’s just nice and not going to do anything.


On Email: I try and return every email, even if it’s a week late. It used to be like, oh, I’ve got to write back today, and then I was like, actually, I don’t! Unless it’s urgent. On weekends, I used to get sucked into thinking I’ve got to write back to everybody, and then I thought, actually, let me try not doing that and see what happens, and I found that if I get back to people Monday, it’s actually okay.


On Travel: These last two weeks, I was gone for four days, home for three days, and then gone for four days, and that did not go well. My daughter was crying every day at school, and the teachers actually said something to me. That’s the first time it’s been that severe. It was also the first time I’ve ever been gone for almost two weeks in a row, so I think that took a toll. I would love to be different, like, “Mommy gets to go here!” But instead I’m like, “I have to go, and I know that sucks for you, but I make money and that’s how I pay for things you like.” And they can kind of understand, but I’m definitely not able to set that example yet of “I am lucky!”


Depending on how long I’m gone for, the nanny will sometimes come earlier to help out with school. And then we have a sitter that’ll help out. Like, this week, my husband had to work late on two nights, so we had a sitter come for those nights, so we don’t tax the nanny who has to come earlier. And then I do the same for him when he’s traveling. He’s about to leave for ten days, and thank God the timing wasn’t at the same time, so then I know I’m going to have the babysitter help out at night if I have to work late, and the nanny will come a little earlier. Not much, she’ll come ten minutes earlier, but still, it makes a difference.


On Decompressing: I used to keep doing my emails on the subway, and then the whole walk home, and then I would attempt to put my phone away. But the last few months, I turned off all notifications on my phone, so no news, no nothing, which helps so much. Now, I’ll do as many emails as I can get to on my phone, and then the minute I’m at a subway, I actually look at humans as I walk down the street, and it’s a seven minute walk. I don’t look at my phone unless there’s something urgent going on, and I think that has enabled me to go from the office to seven minutes of myself to being home, and not thinking about all my replies and all the work shit, so when I get home, I’m present. And I’m not checking my phone at home until the kids go to bed, and again, it has to be something urgent going on.


What happens at night is, I put the baby down, and my husband will put the other two to bed. We did not sleep train the baby, not because we didn’t want to, but we were weak! So, I nurse the baby to sleep, and my husband puts the big ones down. He usually finishes before me. And I’ll get up and immediately get ready for bed. I’ll go, “I love you, you’re awesome, goodnight!” And I’ll go to sleep. His time is, he loves his shows that he watches or whatever, so he’ll sit on the couch for another two hours and decompress that way. I would like to join him, because we like watching TV and shows together, but I just can’t right now. Until this baby sleeps through the night, I’m useless after 10.