Early Life and Inspirations
Emma Grede‘s story is not a typical tale of a business mogul groomed in the heart of Silicon Valley or the financial districts of Manhattan. Raised in East London by a single mother, Grede’s beginnings were humble and far from the glitz of business tycoons. She grew up without direct exposure to entrepreneurial role models, as she revealed in a heart-to-heart conversation with Jay Shetty, a former monk turned life coach and author, on his podcast “On Purpose.” This background shaped her perspective and approach to business in ways that would later define her career.
Formative Lessons from a Single Mother
The cornerstone of Grede’s success lies in the wisdom imparted by her mother during her childhood. She was taught to value herself and her goals, a simple yet profound philosophy that Grede credits for her achievements. With a reported net worth of $320 million, Grede emphasizes the importance of self-worth and determination in her journey. Her mother’s advice ingrained in her a sense of equal footing with others, fostering both confidence and humility.
This blend of confidence and humility is what Wharton organizational psychologist Adam Grant refers to as ‘confident humility’. In a 2022 Wharton blog post, Grant elaborated on this concept, highlighting its significance in leadership. He argues that confidence without humility can lead to arrogance, while humility without confidence results in doubt. Grede’s life story exemplifies the balance of these traits, starting from her first job at the age of 12.
Early Career and the Value of Experience
Grede’s career began modestly with a paper route at age 12. She later ventured into various roles, including working at a sandwich deli and a restaurant. Each job was an opportunity to learn and excel, as she fondly recalls striving to make the best turkey sandwich for her customers. These early experiences were not just about earning but about learning – a principle that she carried into her entrepreneurial ventures.
Venturing into Entrepreneurship: ITB Worldwide
In 2008, Grede made her first significant foray into entrepreneurship by establishing the London-based entertainment marketing agency, ITB Worldwide. The agency quickly made a name for itself, attracting high-profile clients like Natalie Portman and Kris Jenner. Grede’s knack for building relationships and her business acumen were evident in the success of ITB Worldwide, which she eventually sold to PR agency Rogers & Cowan in 2018.
Launching Good American and SKIMS
Emma Grede’s entrepreneurial journey took a significant turn in 2016 with the co-founding of Good American, an apparel company. Two years later, she was instrumental in launching SKIMS, a shapewear brand, alongside her business partners Khloé Kardashian and Kim Kardashian. By July 2023, SKIMS had reached a valuation of approximately $4 billion, marking a milestone in Grede’s career. The success of these ventures is a testament to her ability to identify market needs and collaborate effectively.
The Essence of Hard Work and Persistence
Throughout her journey, Grede maintained a strong belief in hard work and persistence. This ethos is evident in her statement on Shetty’s podcast, where she expressed an unwavering commitment to effort and a realistic approach to challenges. Her story is not one of overnight success, but of consistent effort and a willingness to learn and adapt.
Emma Grede’s journey from the streets of East London to the heights of the entrepreneurial world is a source of inspiration. Her story highlights the importance of core values, the power of relationships, and the impact of a strong work ethic. Grede’s experiences and achievements offer valuable lessons for anyone aspiring to make their mark in the world of business.
Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT