Emma Grede on Good Jeans, Great Skin, and Best Business Advice
Should you ever read "Invented Size 15 jean" on a résumé, know that it belongs to denim brand Good American's Co-Founder and CEO Emma Grede. After months of crowdsourcing and researching, Grede and her partner Khloe Kardashian exalted the body diversity conversation and revolutionized figure-flattering denim forever by launching the in-between size that women everywhere sought after. Grede's good deeds, however, stretch far beyond denim. In addition to making women feel their most booty-ful, the London-born girl boss helps marginalized women in countries affected by conflict as a Women for Women board member while also giving aspiring designers the chance to snag a fashion mentorship with Good American executives. As a CEO, mom of two, and wife, Grede is the epitome of the on-the-go girl. Curious to learn more about the powerhouse that continues to push the envelope, we chatted with Grede about all things jeans (like is it true you should never wash them?), work-life balance, skincare, idols, and more. Keep scrolling to get to know the girl with the good jeans.
In one of your Instagram captions, you mentioned being obsessed with fashion magazines your whole life. Can you tell us a little about your career journey (pre and post ITB) to becoming CEO of Good American?
I have always loved fashion—there are so many talented people who bring their visions to life! I truly view it as an art. I began my career in the industry by working in fashion show production. As a producer, I was truly in the weeds of planning shows—and a big part of fashion shows at the time was identifying sponsorship opportunities. That’s what led me to start my previous company, ITB, in which I forged partnerships between brands and talent. Having spent years of my life working with talent, I knew that my next venture would be in partnership with someone whose values aligned with the mission of the company. When I had the idea to launch GOOD AMERICAN, I knew that Khloé [Kardashian] would be the perfect partner because no one’s journey to body confidence has been more visible or impressive!
What about your job most excites you?
I love so many things about my job, but one of the things I love the most is the product development process. I am constantly thinking about GOOD AMERICAN’s product mission, which is to inspire confidence by enabling women to make the most of the body they have. This takes shape in many ways (no pun intended!) throughout the design process—from fitting on multiple body types, to looking at the classic pieces of a woman’s wardrobe and re-working the garments to work for all body types.
It’s so rewarding to see so many women find clothing that fit them properly as a result of our hard work!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I wouldn’t say any day is ever ‘typical’ for me! I couldn’t get through my days without my wonderful assistant, Chavo, who very importantly keeps me on schedule so that I am able to meet all of my priorities each week! While I am very much involved in every aspect of my business, there are times when I am laser-focused on product, like during line reviews and other times where I am traveling the country with my marketing team. That said, I make it a priority to keep my weekly meetings and touchbases on the books as much as I possibly can. Regularly scheduled check-ins with each department are critical for me to make the best possible decisions for my business.
You’re also a board member for Women for Women. What does that role entail?
I’ve been involved with Women for Women for four years now, first sitting on the UK board of trustees and now on the global board based out of Washington DC. Women for Women works with marginalized women in countries affected by conflict to bring them into a yearlong social and economic empowerment program. This enables them to earn and save money as well as influence decisions in their home and community. I’ve seen first-hand what an incredible impact this has on the lives of so many women and their families, so I’m really proud to be a part of this wonderful organization. My work as a trustee means I sit on the board of the organization to actively fundraise and utilize my marketing expertise to help forge brand partnerships and sponsorship opportunities.
Good American invented the life-changing size 15 jean, congrats! Why was it important for you to build a brand that embraces body diversity and offers an inclusive size range?
Having worked in this industry for my entire adult life, it was abundantly clear to me that fashion was ignoring a vast majority of women in America and around the world. There are so many denim and apparel brands out there and it was so important to Khloé and me to create a company with purpose. We do not compromise on our values and it’s something that our customers really appreciate.
We launched Size 15 because we saw that there was a true need for a size between a 14 and 16. In fact, we had been seeing 50% more returns between those two sizes, so we wanted to do something about it. We talked to our customers for over a year, held focus groups, and spoke to real women on social media about their experiences.
After months of research and testing, we were thrilled to bring Size 15 to market and provide a solution for women. No one should be struggling to find their size. It’s been amazing to see the response.
What’s the dynamic like between you and co-founder Khloe Kardashian?
Khloé and I are both really passionate about the way the product looks, feels and fits. We both come from different perspectives, which allows us to think about our product range from varying points of view. Khloé has a true appreciation and understanding of her market and our customer base, so when GOOD AMERICAN has a big push, she really gets behind it and she has a way of connecting with audiences that’s incredible. She’s the kind of partner that I can speak to honestly and candidly about everything, which really makes our decision-making process seamless.
People can apply to be part of the Good Squad, for a fashion mentorship with Good American executives, and a chance to attend IMG Fashion Camp. What can those who are selected expect in their mentorship with Good American executives?
We really took the GOOD AMERICAN open casting to the next level this year with the addition of the fashion mentorship! While so many women want to be in front of the camera in the model portion of the casting, we wanted to provide the opportunity for women to get involved behind-the-scenes. The recipient of the fashion mentorship will spend some time at the GOOD AMERICAN offices, getting a crash course in everything that goes into designing, producing and selling apparel! So, they’ll work in planning, with the merchandising teams and behind the scenes of the website. For people who want to get into the fashion business it’s a lot about access, there were so many jobs I just didn’t know existed, so we want to provide that access and insight. In addition, they’ll have the chance to attend the IMG Fashion Camp, which is an amazing program hosted by our partners over at IMG Models.
My Good American jeans are my favorite denim fit ever. What actually goes into creating the perfect jean?
I am so happy to hear that! We lead with fit so quite a lot goes into making the perfect pair of jeans. One of the first things we set out to do was to solve the problem of the ‘gap’ in the back of the waist that so many women experience when their hips are wider than their waist! We developed a gap-proof contour trouser waistband that hugs a woman’s shape. Additionally, we spend a lot of time sourcing the best fabrics that have a range of stretch, but always with the perfect amount of recovery, so you can wear more between washes. We also have a variety of rises so whether a woman prefers her jeans high-waisted or ultra-high waisted, GOOD AMERICAN has a fit for her.
Is it true that you should never wash your denim?
Ha! I wouldn’t say never wash your denim but I don’t think most women wash their jeans after every wear (which is why we create our denim with the best stretch fabric that recovers). I know some denim experts who wait at least a year before washing their jeans, but I think it’s a personal preference!
With activewear part of the Good American line, what are your personal favorite athleisure trends right now?
I live in The Core Power Legging, which I have been pairing with The Core Plunge Sports Bra and The Making Moves Tank in camo. Our range is designed to look sexy but seriously support you during your workouts, which is exactly what I look for when I am training.
If you had to pick, what’s your favorite Good American:
- Pair of jeans– Good Straight Twisted Seam is my favorite vintage-inspired fit!
- Bodysuit– The Mock Neck Body is made with the softest compression fabric that makes you look and feel amazing!
- Piece of activewear– The Icon Bike Short is an absolute customer favorite and it recently debuted in camo – love!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and from who?
My husband once told me, “Make a decision and move on.” My job is all about making decisions and you’re going to make good ones and bad ones but better to make a decision and move on than procrastinate. That’s the most relevant advice I incorporate into how I approach my business on a day-to-day basis.
Who are some women that have shaped or inspired your career goals?
Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter and the venture capital fund Imaginary, is someone I’ve always admired and just so happens to be one of my closest friends. Natalie is always someone I turn to when I need guidance—it’s so important to have smart, supportive women surrounding you as much as possible.
What’s one company that we should have on our radar?
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is doing incredible work around sustainability right now, which is such a hot topic for businesses and consumers. The Foundation is really showing people how to take steps to make sustainability a reality within businesses. They work with businesses to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.
You’re a businesswoman, mom, wife, and sister. What’s your secret to keeping it all together and maintaining a work-life balance?
First, stop trying to achieve the impossible. I don’t really believe in the concept of balance and by stopping to try and achieve it, I’ve actually gained more perspective. I’m an all or nothing person and so I embrace that, when I’m at work I’m at work and when I’m home with my kids, I’m not taking work emails. It really helps alleviate the inevitable mummy guilt that so many women feel. The other thing I really think helps, is making a schedule and sticking to it! I value my time very much, so I schedule everything whether work-related or not, that way I make time for work, workouts and waxes and anything else that’s really important to me.
All-time favorite or most recent book you’ve read?
I read a lot so that’s a tough question, I LOVE Berne Brown and anything she’s ever written.
Since you grew up in innercity London, we’re curious to know—what do you think is the difference between British vs. American women’s approach to fashion/beauty?
Well honestly American women are more just on top of their beauty game by comparison, while us Brits are just a bit scrappier and more disheveled!! I’m generalizing of course. But I’m fully embracing my new all-American approach to beauty, more is more as far as product, appointments and self-beautification is concerned - Ha Ha!!
What 3 things are you obsessed with currently?
- Working out with my amazing trainer, Brad Siskind at Gunnar Peterson. Brad is a beast and he keeps me, the most miserable and reluctant person to train ever, simultaneously motivated and entertained.
- Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother and daughter on Facebook Watch. Sooooo good! I hacked my husband’s Facebook so I could binge watch it.
- And Tiffany Haddish in movies, on Instagram, old stuff on Youtube— wherever and whenever, I love her.
Your skin is flawless! Break down your everyday skincare routine for us. Include products.
Oh thanks!! I’m a Dr. Lancer girl, I use his three-step program Cleanse, Polish, Nourish and I never go a day without SPF 50, I like Crème de la Mer, and eye cream either Ole Henriksen or La Prairie anti-aging eye cream. I also mix it up at night adding powders like True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster and serums such as Sunday Riley sleeping night oil.
Do you have any go-to estheticians or spas?
Yes! I see Louise at Dr. Lancer here in LA for facials, Anastasia for brows and waxing, and Vaishley Patel in London—she is a miracle worker. She has taught me everything about looking after my skin.