Emma Grede spent her childhood saving spare money to buy fashion magazines. She is now making millions, helping one of America’s most famous families start and run her business.
This is a typical day for Emma Grede, who just called Chris Jenner and is now racing through Los Angeles to meet Chloe Kardashian for a photo shoot. “I talk to all of them every day,” she said of the ultra-famous family. “I mean, we don’t talk much on the weekends.”
Regular contacts are normal for the 39-year-old entrepreneur, as she and her husband Jens have become one of the Kardashians’ closest associates in their transition from reality TV royalty to experienced entrepreneurs. Together, the couple helped start and run three companies with the family, including Kim Kardashian’s Skims line (Jens is co-founder and CEO, Grede is founder and CEO). Grede is also the co-founder and CEO of Good American, the inclusive fashion brand that launched with Khloé in 2016; and co-founder of Jenner’s new cleaning company, Safely, which launched last March.
“Part of the beauty of the partnership is that we’re all very clear about our roles and what we do, but there’s a lot of respect for each other and what everyone brings to the party,” Grede said.
“Emma is one of the most hardworking people I know. It not only immerses itself in every component of the business, but also constantly expands the boundaries of what a modern, inclusive fashion brand can and should be. ”
With the take-off of many of these businesses, Grede won a place alongside Kim and Chris Forbes List for 2022 of the richest women who made their own, in the United States Forbes estimates Grede at $ 360 million due in large part to her nearly 8% stake in Skims, which was valued at $ 3.2 billion in January. The rest of her fortune comes from owning about 23% of Good American, 22% of Safely and less valuable stakes in Frame and Brady, her husband’s co-founders; the latter is a collaboration with NFL legend Tom Brady.
Grede may be best known to people outside the fashion industry as a guest judge Shark aquarium. She says she has taken on the role of helping draw attention to underfunded black-owned businesses. She is also chairing the 15% stake, a campaign launched after the assassination of George Floyd in May 2020, which requires retailers to set aside 15% of their shelves for black-owned brands (signatories include Nordstrom, Sephora and Macy’s).
“When I came to America, I would be asked a lot of questions about being a black woman in business, and honestly, that was never the reality or my experience in Europe that people would even ask me about,” Grede said. The racial justice movement over the past two years – combined with its own growing profile – has made it want to act. “I felt that with my position and what I was able to build for myself and where I am now in my life, that the right thing to do would be to use that.”
Beam may be rich and famous now, but it has been a long journey so far. Growing up as one of the four daughters of a single mother in East London, she remembers working at paper and other strange jobs from the age of 12 and using the spare money to buy fashion magazines. “I grew up in the ’80s and London was just the beating heart of the fashion industry, and for me it was all about supermodels,” she said. “I was obsessed with Kate [Moss] and Naomi [Campbell] and Linda [Evangelista] and Helena [Christiansen]. It was almost a sense of escaping escapism, to be able to look at fashion.
Financial difficulties mean that the young Grede has to leave the London School of Fashion and take a job in a fashion production company, which turns out to be a hidden blessing. Noticing the struggle of fashion designers trying to win sponsorship, she came up with the idea of her first business, an agency that would connect designers with funding. At the age of 24, she started the Independent Talent Brand (ITB), a marketing and entertainment company that grew over the next decade before selling to marketing firm Rogers & Cowen in 2018.
Grede’s acquaintance with Kardashian came as she built her agency (and how she met her husband, who was one of her first investors; he and business partner Eric Thorstenson ran the London-based marketing agency Saturday Group). She says she often encounters the family’s matriarch at fashion shows and they will discuss her daughters’ careers. “If you work in entertainment marketing, you’re really not in business unless you’re working with Chris Jenner,” she added. So when Grede came up with the idea of a fashion company that included sizes and races – inspired by what she thought was a lack of really diverse and “body-positive” brands – she immediately took her to Jenner, who offered to introduce her to Chloe. Beam flew to Los Angeles next week.
Sister Kardashian says she was sold to Grede’s “crystal clear” vision for the company. “It was so obvious that she was really dedicated to changing the fashion game, genuinely engaging all women and involving pioneers,” Khloé said. Forbes. “Emma is also one of the most hardworking people I know. Not only does it immerse itself in every component of the business – from concept to development to implementation – it consistently pushes the boundaries of what a modern, inclusive fashion brand can and should be. I knew I had to join her on the journey.
“When I came to America, I would be asked a lot of questions about being a black woman in business, and frankly, that was never my reality or experience in Europe.
Good American, which is rare in offering sizes ranging from 00-24, claims to have organized the biggest denim in history when it debuted in 2016, selling $ 1 million on its first day of release. One of the reasons for its success is how difficult it is technically to make so many dimensions. “There’s a reason many other brands don’t do it… When you make so many sizes of clothes, it’s not easy,” she explains. Since then, the brand has grown into swimsuits, shoes and more; recently drew attention with the release of a pair of jeans on the theme of the 90s with a pattern of small square holes up and down the pants.
Grede, who moved with her husband to Los Angeles in 2017 to be closer to the clan and the important US market, says she runs “everything in every aspect of the business” while Khloé focuses on design and marketing. . The reality star often presents herself as a model on the Good American website and peppers her Instagram page, which has an incredible 250 million followers, with photos of herself in clothing.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel says having an “embedded marketing machine” like Kardashian can be incredibly valuable. “Overall, we’ve seen companies work best when brand creators join operators who also come with built-in initial audience support,” Siegel said, noting that partnering with a celebrity isn’t enough to become in a highly competitive environment. fashion industry.
“The company with the best product and no audience, or the company with the best audience and no product, just aren’t companies,” Siegel said. “Companies have to do everything.”
After moving to Good American in the early stages of growth, Grede says she “felt like a very natural and easy partnership everywhere” when she and her husband were eavesdropped on by Kim to help launch Skims in 2019. While Jens leads the day-to-day operations of the state-of-the-art clothing design line, with Grede focusing on design, manufacturing, planning and merchandising as the company’s chief product officer. “I’m really following Kim’s example,” Grede said. “Skims is Kim’s vision, it’s her idea, it’s her aesthetics. It’s my job to make it possible and to do it. ”
Overall, her time is dominated mainly by her work with Good American and Skims. But there is much more to her plate, including her duties as a mother of four (she had twins through a surrogate in 2021). She juggles it, she says, knowing when to delegate. For example, she hired someone else to serve as CEO of Safely, “because I’m just not the best person to run a consumer cleaning company.” “I’m a mother of four and I have non-profit commitments that take a lot of time, but like everyone, I don’t do anything alone,” says Grede. “I have amazing people around me, but also in my family life and I always feel like a working mother, I want to be really honest about that. I don’t believe I have everything. I definitely don’t do it all the time. ”