See Inside Tory Burch’s First-Ever Entrepreneur Conference

The fashion designer’s Embrace Ambition Summit aimed to encourage female entrepreneurs and foster their sometimes undervalued desire for success.

By Michele Laufik May 2, 2018, 7:31 AM EDT

The summit's photo backdrop wall featured hundreds buttons with empowering words.

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tory Burch Foundation

Tory Burch Foundation's Embrace Ambition Summit
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As part of its #EmbraceAmbition campaign, the Tory Burch Foundation hosted its inaugural Embrace Ambition Summit at Alice Tully Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center on April 24.

Presented by Bank of America and organized by the foundation’s in-house team, the one-day forum featured a lineup filled with presentations, conversations, and performances from folks across several fields including business, entertainment, sports, academics, and politics. With the theme “Confronting Stereotypes and Creating New Norms,” the event’s mission was to address stereotypes around gender, race, and sexuality.

Started in 2017, the foundation’s #EmbraceAmbition campaign, which was inspired by the fashion designer’s own struggles as an entrepreneur, calls out the double standard that exists in the business world around ambition.

As has been the trend over the past year or so, more and more brands are branching out, hosting female-focused events and forums with programming aimed at encouraging women. Burch’s first-ever summit is simply a continuation of the fashion company’s foundation, which she started in 2009 to empower female entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education, and digital resources.

“Women entrepreneurs are on the rise—growing businesses, providing employment, and investing back into the communities they serve,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America. “Too often these women lack resources to help them advance. For our part, Bank of America continues to deploy capital and invest in partnerships, like the one we have with the Tory Burch Foundation, that help women entrepreneurs break through and help local economies thrive.”

The Tory Burch Capital Program, which is one of the components of the foundation and is powered by Bank of America, has distributed $36 million in loans to 1,775 women entrepreneurs so far.

In addition to C.E.O. and founder Burch, The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood, U.S. Olympic medalists Lindsey Vonn and Ibtihaj Muhammad, congressman Joe Kennedy III, and more took to the summit stage, sharing personal anecdotes and advice, as well as sparking discussions around the issues facing businesswomen.

More than 900 attendees, including entrepreneurs, community influencers, and students, gathered for the invite-only summit, along with applicants who were chosen based on their personal stories. These guests submitted applications for a chance to attend by answering the question: “We want to hear about your journey of embracing ambition or overcoming a stereotype. Provide examples of ways that you support women and help others address stereotypes.” Over 600 applications were received from across the country.

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