Since that moment, Aden’s continued to thrive by staying true to herself: “I’m still a small town girl, and I didn’t have to move to New York in order to find success in fashion. I was myself and I did it on my own terms. I’m doing it on my own pace. And that’s where I’m finding success, [by] just being myself.”
Burch added that ambition can have double standards: It’s praised in men and a dirty word for women. “We all need to own ambition, whether it’s being a stay at home mom or being an executive, or however you see it,” Burch said. “When women are criticized for ambition and men are celebrated, that’s a problem.”
Aden’s also invested in making sure that more women come after her—because, she said, a “first” doesn’t matter without a second, third, or fourth. Moving the conversation forward about ambition largely starts with young women, she added. “We are the generation of forward thinkers,” she said. “We’re going to have women who are giving it back to the next generation. There’s this hunger to do something and be active and we are def a generation that speak up and we have opinions to bring to the table.”
As for where she’s hoping to go next, Aden shared a big goal onstage: to attend the Met Gala, dressed by Tory Burch. “Ladies if you don’t ask, sometimes you don’t get it…put it out in the universe. Every room that you’re in, don’t be afraid to network.”
Burch and Aden aren’t strangers to ambition—nor success. Tory Burch is an American fashion designer and philanthropist whose entrepreneurship has paved the way for other women to find success in the fashion industry. Burch founded her namesake label in 2004, but has always been one step ahead in the game. In a recent interview with Glamour, she said, “My plan was always to start a global lifestyle brand so that I could start a foundation.”
As her business grew, she introduced the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to advance women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. Recently, she launched an initiative through the Foundation called #EmbraceAmbition.
At 22 years old, Halima Aden is at the forefront of a generation that embraces ambition. In 2016, she was the first contestant to wear a hijab and burkini while competing for Miss Minnesota USA. Two years later, she was the first hijabi woman to be featured on the cover of British Vogue, and earlier this April, she was the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in Sport Illustrated.
Find out more about Glamour‘s 2019 Women of the Year here.