Despite the fact that women make up more than 70 percent of the total retail workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of leadership positions at top fashion firms. So what are the hurdles in the way?

In a recent interview with Business of Fashion, Tory Burch, CEO of Tory Burch; Angela Missoni, creative director for Missoni; and Alison Loehnis, president of Net-a-Porter, shared how they achieved their success. Below is a snippet of how each woman faced adversity during her career, yet turned it into opportunity.

How can women learn to build confidence, speak up and better market themselves in the workplace?
TB: “International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde put it best when she said, ‘What holds women back isn’t competence, which they usually have, but confidence, which they often lack.’ I’ve learned that if you want to push yourself to grow, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and be willing to take risks. Don’t shy away from a big project or an assignment that taps skills that are still evolving. You’ll learn a lot in the process. Confidence grows out of challenging yourself in new ways and from saying ‘yes’ to unexpected opportunities — even if it scares you.”

How can women balance their responsibilities at home with the demands of their careers?
AM: “The balance of responsibilities should be found by the couple itself — at a private level — through redesigning the mutual rules, times and spaces to incorporate the family. Then, couples can use the corporate support offered by their work — for example, ad hoc spaces and assistance to their children in the workplace so they can share more time with their parents. Government contributions can help too, offering financial support to working couples.”

How can women negotiate and push for promotion?
AL: “Take a look at what it is you do and what you contribute on a daily basis and have a clear understating of your market value. If you feel you’re prime for a promotion, you should lobby for it. Most importantly, show them what you’ve got, work hard and invest in your professional relationships. It can also be useful to think about the advice you would give to a friend in the same position. Chances are you would tell her to go for it. Tell yourself the same thing.”

For more leadership tips from these retail executives, visit