It’s funny because I was talking to Ralph Lauren once and he said, “Oh, this is a really painful business.” And I thought, “Well, if Ralph Lauren can say that, what’s it like for everybody else?” You need a lot of determination, and you need to stick to your goals. Once everything is going smoothly, you’ll have some glitch where a bunch of your dresses won’t fit or some fabric comes in the wrong color. You have to be second-guessing everything because so many things can go wrong. And that’s just a fashion show. So between fittings and production and fabric, there are just a million variables.

You always have to be on your toes, to be participating in things. You have to be a self-starter. People get too comfortable too often in work situations. I think you really have to understand that a workplace is about work. And even if it’s a lighthearted atmosphere, you can’t automatically assume you don’t have to be working hard all the time.

There’s always another hurdle. I think that is true with everything. An actor is only as good as his last movie. You can never sit back and relax and say, “I don’t have to do anything anymore.” Even these people who have made billions have to figure out how to hang on to them. I think life is a challenge. Success is never a state that really stays, because there is always something more to do and something more to accomplish.

Fort Worth native Nicole Miller graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1973. She moved to New York, where she was fired from her first job after five days for not working fast enough. A year and a half later, Miller took a job with P. J. Walsh, a dress manufacturer. She and P. J. Walsh’s president, Bud Konheim, bought the company in 1982, renaming it Nicole Miller, and opened their first boutique in 1986 on Madison Avenue. But it wasn’t until 1987, when Miller designed her first men’s tie, that the company and the designer hit the big time. She is now one of the leading American clothing designers. Her company generates $60 million in sales a year and owns 35 boutiques.