NEW YORK — You know her by the sunglasses she always has with her. You know her from TV, and you might know her from the tabloids, too, but Nicole Richie isn’t convinced any of it works for or against her when it comes to building her design career.

She guided aspiring designers on the fashion competition show “Fashion Star,” and says she sees success in the fashion business as either potentially intense and fleeting, or broad-based and sustained. It’s up to the work you do — and doing it consistently, she says.

“You’re only as good as your last season,” she says.

Richie, it seems, is banking on a big fall season. That’s when her limited-edition collection for Macy’s contemporary department debuts, and she also stars in the ads.

Richie, 30, isn’t an industry novice. She’s gained recognition for her lines Winter Kate and House of Harlow, but the Nicole Richie for Impulse collaboration, best described as contemporary clothes styled with Richie’s bohemian flair, is her greatest exposure yet. The clothes, including maxi dresses, asymmetrical skirts, cropped tops and fitted jackets in an array of jewel tones and prints, are in about 100 stores and available online starting this month.

She hasn’t taken the task lightly.

“Well, my main focus just with everything that I design is to really get to know the customer, and I spend a lot of time doing that,” she says. “I’m traveling all year just with various appearances that I do for Winter Kate and House of Harlow, and the reason that I do these appearances is because I really get to come face-to-face with my customer, and as I’m watching them in the store I can see what pieces they’re wearing, I can see what they’re drawn to, what people’s favorite pieces are and people are always wanting to tell me a story of how they got that ring or that bracelet, or how they wear their tops or their sunglasses. That’s something that I pay attention to and that I really take into consideration whenever I’m designing the next collection.”