Award-winning fashion designer Cynthia Rowley doesn't like following rules. 

In art school, Rowley's instructors told her that creative types had to leave the business side of their endeavors to "backers" and other entrepreneurially-minded individuals. From the day she launched her company in 1988, however, Rowley has made a point of ignoring this advice. 

"I try to be as creative in the business side of things as I am in the design side of things and I don't really follow the traditional path of fashion design at all," Rowley said in a recent roundtable Inc. hosted.

So far, the stratgegy has proved quite successful. Rowley's business--which includes womenswear, menswear, eyewear, handbags, and shoes--brings in more than $130 million a year.

"Sometimes a business proposition can spark your curiosity... that will ultimately manifest itself in something really great creatively," she noted.

For example, after many years of surfing, Rowley noticed that no designer had come up with a fashionable wetsuit for women that would stand out in the male-dominated sport. This business opportunity led to a particularly rewarding creative experience, as she was able to design both a functional and fashionable wetsuit.

"I think the business side of it is as creative [as the design side]," she said.

To hear more about how to be a business-savvy creative type, watch the video below.