Rachel Zoe and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger On the Power of Saying No, Finding Balance

It was an inspiring night at FN‘s first Women in Power event, filled with the fashion and footwear industry’s leading female power players. Speaking at the event in Los Angeles on Wednesday night were Rachel Zoe and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, who got candid during a conversation about fashion’s challenges and obstacles.

For Hilfiger, who debuted her eponymous handbag line in 2011 and last year relaunched the collection, including made-in-Italy shoes, finding success is all about achieving balance.

She said onstage, “We have seven kids and we have a 10-year-old. In ways it’s great. It makes you prioritize what you need to get done and what’s important to you so you’re not always crazed and overwhelmed. You have to make choices to say no. I always tell Tommy [Hilfiger], my husband, who is often guilty of saying yes to everything, something suffers.” She continued, “When you can say no and focus in on what you want to do, you do that well.”

Hilfiger also serves as the creative director of New York accessories brand Judith Leiber.

Stylist and designer Rachel Zoe continues to build out her fashion collection. For spring ’20, Aldo is debuting women’s shoes, handbags, kids’ footwear and leather goods with the designer.

Zoe said, “For those of you who haven’t been in this part of the business, footwear and handbags, it’s a whole other thing. It’s a very different science, and it’s the most incredible part of this industry. As someone who is completely obsessed with shoes, bags, jewelry and really everything, it’s equally as important as the clothes, if not more so.”

Her career path didn’t come without challenges, however. She said, “I hope the next generation doesn’t have that same feeling where you have to prove yourself. Coming up in my town, I think people thought I would just get married and you would never hear from me again. I constantly had this feeling that I had to prove to people that I was more than that. More importantly, prove that to myself.”

Zoe added, “I thought I was going to be a child psychiatrist. It wasn’t a thought in my mind that I could make a career out of something I loved so much. I was styling people my whole life.”

But despite any roadblocks, for both entrepreneurs, it’s their passion that keeps them on course.

Hilfiger told FN, “I have my husband who is always encouraging me and pushing me along. It’s certainly not always easy. I get a lot of encouragement from girlfriends. The alternative is to do what? Not try? Not do anything? That keeps me going, and it’s a lot of fun.”

“I can’t imagine not doing it because it wakes me up in the morning and puts me to bed at night. I think about it all the time, and I’m constantly thinking about what I can do next and how I can do better,” Zoe added. “That’s what is going on in my head. Just always wanting to create new things that I feel the women in my life can use and wear.”

FN’s Women in Power Los Angeles event is sponsored by Aldo, Fila, FN Platform, Klarna and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse.

Click through the gallery to see more red carpet arrivals and guests at FN’s Women in Power event.

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