Good American CEO Emma Grede launched the brand with business partner and friend, Khloe Kardashian in October 2016. What started as the biggest denim launch in history (the brand known to sell $1 million worth of product in a single day), has grown into a fully inclusive fashion line with hundreds of millions of sales.
Grede is also involved with several other brands, including one of the founders of Skims, alongside Kim Kardashian, which has just doubled its valuation to $3.2 billion, and Safely, a green cleaning brand.
But when she’s not starting and running businesses, she invests in entrepreneurs on ABC’s shark cagenow in its 14th season, enjoying life back home in Los Angeles with her husband, Swedish londonbusinessblog.com Jens Grede, and their four children.
“Being on Shark Tank has made me one of the favorite moms in school!” Grede tells londonbusinessblog.com. “I had no idea how many kids are watching shark cage. My kid said his friends think he’s lying that I’m on the show.”
Here Grede talks to londonbusinessblog.com about her life as CEO and what we can expect on shark cage this season.
Why did you want to take your money to a public forum like? shark cage?
When they first approached me, I was a little unsure about it. But it’s important to me to support female founders and founders of color, so it made sense to use the platform to shine a light on these entrepreneurs. We’re seeing more black female entrepreneurs on the show than ever before, and it’s been super positive overall. The power of TV, right? We, as a brand, are so invested in digital and DTC [direct to consumer] it’s nice to see entrepreneurs shine in this medium. I really enjoyed my interactions with the entrepreneurs and investing in women in the early stages of their ideas.
What is your favorite part of being on the show?
Working with the entrepreneurs! It’s so crazy how you forget how hard it was in the beginning.
What can we expect from you this season?
Another fantastic look! No, seriously, I went in on shark cage with a clear mission. I wanted to invest in women and women-centric ideas that other investors might not see as a [winner]. It’s so hard to raise money, walk into a room with a woman-centric idea, pitch a plus-size client to a bunch of guys in suits in New York. How am I going to convince these people who have no idea what the problem is with investing? I looked at my own journey and wondered how I can help these entrepreneurs.
What do you pay attention to when investing in entrepreneurs?
I am very founder oriented. There are many people with great ideas. There are only a few who can take an idea and turn it into a $100 million business.
As CEO of Good American, how many people do you manage?
Just got out of my management meeting! I directly manage 12 people – and some need more management than others. Joking aside, I have an incredible management team. I’m not a micro manager. I think it’s important to hire the best people and then move out of the way.
What do you focus on in everyday life?
When I think about my role, I am focused on strategy and focused on product. And of course hiring. Hiring. Strategy. Product. Hire the right people and don’t interfere. I’m not adept at negotiating movie contracts, but I hire the right people who can.
You have very high profile co-founders and partners [the Kardashians]. How did you manage to navigate the noise from outside and keep the focus on the brand?
Distraction will be inevitable in any business, but I’m not easily distracted. Every day I focus on realizing our mission and goal. Ensuring that stores carry that full range. Ensuring that everything we do revolves around strengthening inclusivity and diversity. There will always be moments that rattle any founder, but you need to stay focused on your mission. Khloe can get a customer to buy something once. But people don’t come back to buy $150 jeans unless the product works. We do not waver from our mission. We offer a best-in-class product. Kris, Kim, Khloe…yes, they’re hugely famous women, but they’re also business people. And they are in their companies. They don’t just put their name on these brands. We speak daily.
When you first launched and knew it would be fully inclusive and required retailers to take the full range of sizes, did you get negative feedback from industry vets or people warning you not to go that route ?
There were so many naysayers. I didn’t go back on the mission, but I also wanted to be profitable. I’m a girl from East London, I had to earn money. I think what was so disappointing in the beginning was that people didn’t understand the need. Women at one end of the size spectrum were simply ignored. 67% of women in the US are considered a “plus-size” population. I never hesitated to think this was a viable business idea. We could have focused on being DTC, but we knew that the mix of DTC, wholesale and retail would be the best experience for the customer. We were lucky enough to find great partners.
What’s next for Good American’s growth?
We are about to open our very first store in Century City [California]. It is currently under construction and should open next year. I’m so excited that everyone can see how we can bring true inclusivity [the store].
This interview has been slightly edited and abbreviated for clarity.