Five years after launching her own fashion line, Whitney Eve, Whitney Port can safely say getting into the retail industry is the biggest risk she's ever taken. "I think there's this preconceived notion that anyone's that made it has just made it overnight. You don't know all the hard work they've been doing underground that's gotten them to where they are," Port, 29, admitted during a September LinkedIn Discussion Series event in New York City.
Prior to appearing on MTV's The Hills, and later her own spin-off, The City ("It was really scary but such great exposure"), Port says she paid her dues in the fashion industry. "You have to start somewhere. I was working in God-knows-where California doing the littlest things, like counting the 246 rhinestones that needed to go on the back pockets of jeans," she said.
Years later, Port settled into an internship with Diane von Furstenberg, and parlayed her success into the launch of her own line with the help of her late father, Jeffrey Port, who worked as a garment manufacturer. "It wasn't like I went off and started this company on my own — I had a lot of help from him," Port told the LinkedIn audience.
Following her father's death from kidney cancer in March 2013, the designer considered throwing in the towel and giving up the career she and her father both so loved. "That challenge, picking up the pieces and learning new tasks I had never learned before — those moments [without my dad] ended up being my proudest and most empowering," Port said.
Though her early career was largely inspired by her dad, Port was also influenced by her former boss, von Furstenberg. "Diane started with a vision and created a whole empire around how to make girls feel confident and sexy. That's definitely something that I strive to be," the designer said. "That's what's so cool about my industry: People can put on my clothes and be like, 'Okay, I'm feeling confident and empowered to take on my day. This is really an expression of who I am.' I love that I'm able to be a part of that woman's journey."
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