Emma Grede on building businesses with the Kardashians: 'It wasn't exactly a walk in the park'

Entrepreneur and self-made business mogul Emma Grede knows a few things about building successful businesses with the Kardashians. Together they have co-founded several: Good American, SKIMS, and Safely.

"I have a very long relationship [with the Kardashians], going back to my former career where I'd worked with the family, for I guess near enough 10 years now," Grede told Yahoo Finance Live Presents (video above). "So it's been a relationship that's taken a very long time to form. We've done many, many different things together, but just like anybody, they're very shrewd businesswomen, and they get their fair share of pitches."

She added that creating new companies "wasn't exactly a walk in the park, but we've been able to build really fantastic businesses, starting with Good American, and then SKIMS with Kim Kardashian, and now onto Safely with Kris."

Her first venture with Khloe Kardashian, Good American, launched in 2016 as a size-inclusive fashion brand. The brand's debut collection brought in $1 million on its first day and has grown into a multi-category brand that offers apparel from denim to activewear in a range of sizes from 00 to 32+.

For decades, size inclusion efforts were led by independent brands like Lane Bryant, which stood out as a rare retailer that specialized in plus-size clothing. Today, that's changing as the industry as a whole recognizes shoppers of all sizes.

Data from Plunkett Research estimates that 68% of American women wear a size 14 or above, which is slightly higher than in 2012. Additionally, the average American woman is a size 16 to 18, according to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education.

Grede noticed that diverse sizing was missing in other luxury apparel categories, and following the success of Good American, she wanted to bring size inclusivity to other brands.

She then expanded her business portfolio with Kim Kardashian by building the shapewear and loungewear company SKIMS in 2018. SKIMS has helped reinvent intimate apparel by offering sizes that range from XS to 5X for garments that are capable of stretching twice their original size. The company is now estimated to be worth $3.2 billion.

For Grede, inclusion is more than just selling clothes in larger sizes; it's about having a "purpose" and "a community around our brands" who "become your best advocates."

Her latest startup, which is co-founded by Kris Jenner, is also mission-driven. The pair launched Safely, a plant-based cleaning product brand that uses formulas free of certain chemicals.

"I am a product person, I'm a person that takes a look at the market, takes a product, and always strives to make something better," Grede said. "And that's what we've done in each of those companies. We have enormous amounts of success."

'Spreading the love'

After working with the Kardashian co-owned brands, the CEO has now turned to helping other budding entrepreneurs get their start.

In 2021, Grede appeared as a guest shark on the reality television show Shark Tank.

"My aim in going on Shark Tank was really about spreading the love and figuring out what can I do to actually help founders that might otherwise not have access to traditional financing means," she said.

Grede, who is also the chair of the 15 Percent Pledge, a movement that encourages retailers to allocate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, offered some advice for budding entrepreneurs.

"For any founders, I always tell them, embrace social [media] for what it is, because it's such an incredible business tool," she said. "You can make content really cheaply. You can meet audiences really cheaply. And when you've got something great, you're going to find the right communities to get behind your product."

While social media has helped to level the playing field for many new businesses, Grede noted that it doesn't remove all of the obstacles in the way.

"The hurdles are still there, and we still need people like me and like so many others to get behind those new businesses," she said. "And that's what's really important, I think where my entire focus is now."

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @daniromerotv

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