Emma Grede is known as one of Forbes’ richest and most successful self-made women. She is an intricate piece of how the Kardashian family has been able to transition from reality TV stars to savvy entrepreneurs. She is the co-founder and CEO of Good American, the inclusive fashion brand she started with Khloé Kardashian in 2016, she’s a founding partner and the Chief Product Officer at Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line, Skims and a co-founder of Kris Jenner’s new cleaning supplies company, Safely.
Emma who’s originally from Plaistow, East London dropped out of college and entered the school of life. She realized she preferred learning on the job and the fashion industry was more about who you know rather than what you know. Emma did a bunch of work placements and eventually opened up her own talent management firm where she would connect the dots and broker mutually beneficial deals for celebrities and brands. The company profile grew substantially when she brokered a deal between Dior and Natalie Portman. Her network also grew substantially as she was often meeting with agents and managers to discuss what types of fashion opportunities their clients were open to. This is when she met Kris Jenner and started discussing the different ambitions Kris’ daughters had.
The start of their business relationship was Good American, an all-inclusive clothing line with Khloé. On the day the brand launched in October 2016, it made $1 million in sales. Roughly nine months later, Emma and her family moved from London to LA. Emma continuously works hard for Good American not to just be another celebrity brand but a brand that can stand on its own and has committed consumers due to the brand consistently solving its consumers’ pain points and meeting their needs. Two years after the launch of Good American, Emma and Kim achieved similar success with Skims, a shapewear, and loungewear brand, which just doubled its valuation to $3.2 billion.
“Emma is one of the hardest working people I know. She not only immerses herself in every component of the business, she consistently pushes the envelope for what a modern, inclusive fashion brand can and should be.”
Emma featured on Shark Tank as the first Black woman investor on the show. She says she took the role to help bring attention to underfunded Black-owned businesses. Being a Black woman who’s been through the fundraising experience, Emma knows firsthand how difficult it is for Black people to get funding, especially Black women. She wanted to go on Shark Tank to invest in these businesses but also to provide them with a platform.
There are a lot of things to take from Emma’s success. Here are my top three takeaways:
Take that risk – there’s no success without an element of risk. Emma dropping out of college was her ‘burn the boats’ moment. She didn’t have the safety net of education to fall back on she was committed to making it in the fashion industry and ready to go to work for it.
Be a person of value – Emma is very aware of her weaknesses but also her strengths. To be able to work with the celebrities she works with she’s built a specific set of skills that brings value to any partnership she’s involved in. Once you have value to offer financial value follows.
Pay it forward – Emma is chairwoman of America’s fastest-growing Non-Profit Organization, the 15% pledge, which is a pledge that started off the back of the unjust murder of George Floyd. The 15% pledge is that retailers spend 15% of their annual spend on Black-owned businesses or offer 15% of their shelf space. Emma hasn’t forgotten where she’s come from and the struggles she had to face to get where she is today. She leverages her influence and network to make the journey for those behind her a bit less difficult.
I love hearing stories of British people that succeed abroad, it takes huge guts to move to a new place and take over. From being a small fish in a big sea and now being a shark, what Emma Grede has done so far is hugely inspiring. The main reason I share stories like Emmas is to show that they aren’t that different from us, they started out in a very similar position, sometimes worse, and are still able to achieve unbelievable things. There’s nothing out of reach for you and me.