VPL’s Founder Donie Yamamoto’s journey to becoming a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow

Donie Yamamoto for Tory Burch Foundation Fellow

I became aware of Tory Burch while living in the Philippines and starting my first business. Being a woman entrepreneur in the Philippines is very difficult.  I started with very little capital and very little family support. In our culture, it was not acceptable for young women to become entrepreneurs at a young age. My father was against the idea of me starting my own business. I had to defy a patriarchal society at that time to pursue my dream as an entrepreneur.  

I opened my own clothing store and never looked back. Not only did I have to learn to communicate with customers and employees, while managing the business, but I  overcame the challenges and misconceptions of being a woman who was the head of the company. I carried the Tory Burch clothing brand in my store and became aware of her Foundation and then her entrepreneurial mentoring in 2015. What resonated the most for me, was that Tory was reaching out and offering help to women from all walks of life and backgrounds. At this same time, I felt solitary as a woman entrepreneur and longed to find my tribe of fellow women who shared the same path and journey.  

Little did I know the following experience would inspire and lead to me become a Tory Burch Fellow in 2019. In 2003, I lost my first fur-baby Paris to distemper. I was devastated and promised myself going forward I would always give my new dogs the proper care, nutrition, and medical support they needed. This was the concept that drove my passion to start Vital Pet Life; as pet services were very expensive in the Philippines. Since then, I’ve made it my personal crusade to develop this but had no means at the time to match my passion. Since the inception of the Tory Burch Foundation Fellow Program in 2014, my goal has been to apply to the program, meet Tory and personally relay to her how her vision inspired me and lastly find my tribe of strong, independent women entrepreneurs.

In our next post, Donie writes about her takeaway from her week in New York City as a TBF Fellow.

(Photo @Tiffany_Sage)


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