Community//

Stitch Fix Founder Katrina Lake Gives the C-Suite a Makeover

How this founder and CEO learned to embrace her history-making role as the youngest woman to take her company public.

Katrina Lake

If you have a Facebook feed, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Katrina Lake’s online personal styling company, Stitch Fix.

At age 35, in 2017, Katrina became the youngest female founder and CEO to take a company public.

Stitch Fix is now worth over $2 billion. And she got there by breaking the mold of what you might still typically think of when you think of leadership.

“I think a lot of the things that you think about an entrepreneur, you think somebody who’s, like, super risky and somebody who’s going to stay up for all hours tinkering with something in their garage,” Katrina told me in our conversation for INFORUM at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. “And not that I didn’t spend all hours [working on] Stitch Fix at some point, but I don’t think that I had the typical traits of an entrepreneur.”

Katrina has not only changed the way many of us shop for clothes, but she’s also changing how we think about leaders. For one thing, you may have caught all the press hullaballoo over the picture of her from the NASDAQ IPO when she stood on stage with her young son on her hip, unintentionally setting the tone for a new generation of women leaders. She told me her perspective on this has changed over time: “So I was almost prickly about being a female CEO in the early days and . . . I was like, I just want to be a CEO and I don’t need to be a female CEO and I don’t need to be the female CEO.”

Now, she embraces the role because there have been so few precedents. “Even if I’m just an example, I think it’s good and I’m happy to be that example.”

And she plans to send a message — intentionally — about the importance of family leave. She’s pregnant with her second child, and she plans on taking a full 16 weeks of maternity leave.

“I had to do the same research of trying to figure out who were the people before me that took a maternity leave when they were a public company CEO,” she said. “And you could do the math: if I was the youngest female founder, and I’m 35, there’s not going to be a lot of other examples out there of people who face that. So there’s not a lot of precedent. As somebody who now is raising young people and is thinking about how the world that you see impacts who people become, there’s just aren’t great examples.”

Before starting her own company, Lake was convinced “someone” would have developed a new vision for disrupting retail. But after meeting with hundreds of entrepreneurs, she became convinced that the only way to find that company was to start it herself.

I spoke with Katrina Lake onstage at INFORUM at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco to find out what makes her tick and how she turned this startup into a successful IPO.

Listen to learn how she bucked the big-business norms and continues to forge her own path in the latest episode of Inflection Point.

And when you’re done, come on over to The Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small, daily actions.

Subscribe to Inflection Point to get more stories of how women rise up right in your feed on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Stitcher and NPROne.

Originally published at www.salon.com on August 16, 2018.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.