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The True Religion co-founder leads differently these days – here’s why

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

I have been a serial australiabusinessblog.com all my life, driven by my passions. I love the challenge of creating something from scratch and am always eager to learn new things. One of my most notable achievements was co-founding the very first fashion denim brand: True Religion, which sold for over $800 million in 2013.

When I co-founded the company, denim had no stretch; you were either wearing stiff jeans or jeggings. Worst of all, there were no suitable jeans options for curvier bodies. They were clearly neglected. Our jeans designs were highly technical and intentional to create sexy jeans that would suit any body type.

In 2008, I sold my shares of True Religion and embarked on my next phase of entrepreneurial endeavors. After I left the company, I started building houses, and as I was staging them, it was impossible to find cohesive styles that matched the designs and aesthetics. It was difficult to decorate the rooms in these houses and make them look seamless, so I decided to do something about it.

I found Style Union Home, a luxury home ceramics brand with handcrafted pieces made in LA, two years ago to fill that gap. Since then, the line has been sold in 200 stores across the US and is still growing.

My passion to be the first to develop something motivated me to start all my businesses. I’ve used my 30+ years of founding and selling it to shape my new home fashion line – and this time I’m doing things differently.

Related: What Role Does Passion Play in Your Success as an australiabusinessblog.com?

These are lessons I learned along the way and incorporated into Style Union Home.

I would never do business with an all-male board again.

At True Religion I was the largest shareholder, but also the only woman on the board. During my time with the company, it was difficult to find any support from the all-male board of directors.

We were disrupting the denim industry, and often they didn’t know how to do it because they couldn’t see or relate to the woman’s perspective. We were developing a brand for women and they didn’t know how to do it. I fought for many of my ideas that ended up being successful for the brand because I knew what our customers wanted.

Being the largest shareholder and not being heard was the biggest thorn in my side. The men I worked with could be exclusive; they didn’t care to listen and find out what women really wanted.

As a result, I never got the support I needed.

For example, while we were still building True Religion, Neiman Marcus contacted us and wanted us to make a dress. The board immediately shut down the idea – they said it had nothing to do with denim. They saw no dollars in the project, but I knew they were wrong.

I made the dress for Neiman Marcus anyway. That denim dress was on the cover of the Neiman Marcus catalog and received a lot of positive attention. None of that would have happened if I had listened to the board and not gone with my gut.

Related: 3 super easy ways to understand what your customer wants

I am committed to hiring and working with incredible women.

Because of my experience with the all-male board, I knew I wanted to work with women. As entrepreneurs, we need to build our teams, and by hiring women, we have the power to ensure they are paid equal pay and become part of an inclusive environment. The only way to handle this kind of problem is to make the change yourself, and everything else will follow.

Today I am focused on working with women and supporting them every step of the way.

When it comes to my hiring process, for me it’s really about passion. I look for people who are ambitious And love what they do. Of course you want to work with people who have experience and know what they are doing, but they also need to be passionate about the work they do.

Today I am focused on working with women and supporting them every step of the way. We are developing a brand primarily for women, and women know women. They can see the vision of the future because they understand and appreciate our customers’ perspectives and their needs.

Related: 7 Practical Ways to Celebrate and Support Women Entrepreneurs

Understand the difference between listening and hearing.

Every australiabusinessblog.com should work on their listening and hearing skills – and they are not the same. Anyone can passively pay attention to what they are being told and repeat it, but are you listening and absorbing what is being asked of you?

As a leader, you need to listen to your teams and understand their needs. They need to know that you are attentive. You can’t run a business with a team that doesn’t feel supported. That’s when things start to fall apart.

An australiabusinessblog.com is only as good as his team.

Every brand has a vision and the only way to successfully execute it is to surround yourself with people who can also see the big picture. Entrepreneurs must be able to rely on their teams and that is only possible if you work towards the same goal with a close-knit group of people. The strength of the people around you is fundamental to your success.

Despite being the largest shareholder in True Religion, I never felt supported because the team didn’t see what I was doing. It is essential that you align with a team about your vision and let them know that they are valuable.

Stay true to your leadership style.

Women in business clearly face a double standard in the workplace. We’ve learned to do what we can to fit into the “boys’ club” or to tone down our feminine energy.

But the things they tell you to downplay (lead with emotional intelligence, for example) can make you a great leader in your field. We are asked to change our identity when not necessary; we just need to learn how to harness those qualities.

Your passion is valuable. It will speak for you and people will be receptive.

You don’t have to be aggressive to get your point across. You can be heard by staying true to yourself and your leadership style. Your passion is valuable. It will speak for you and people will be receptive.

Related: The Importance of Staying True to Your Roots as an australiabusinessblog.com

Leadership by example is the hallmark of a good leader.

A strong leader makes a strong team. Your actions, no matter how small you think they are, will affect your team. Respect your employees and they will respect you. They need to trust you, and the only way to gain their trust is to show them that you put your words into action.

I would never ask anyone on my team to do something I wouldn’t do myself. Being a leader does not make you superior to others. You are all critical parts of one great unit that only functions when you are in sync.

If you’re not ready for something, there’s nothing wrong with saying no.

Entrepreneurs think they have to say yes to every opportunity that comes their way. But they operate from a scarcity mentality. They believe that if they say no, the prospect is lost forever. But I don’t think that’s true at all.

When making decisions, it is essential for founders to learn when to say no because it can make or break their company. It’s tempting to say yes when you get a potentially lucrative offer, but you need to think strategically about the long-term impact. Before making any commitment, wait until you have all your ducks in a row.

If an australiabusinessblog.com knows he’s not prepared for something, the worst thing he can do is say yes and potentially sacrifice that connection. If you’re not ready, that’s okay. Do not do it. They’ll be back.

I will never repeat the mistakes I made at True Religion, but I am grateful for the lessons I was able to learn along the way.

I’m taking all my experience into Style Union Home’s growth plan for 2023. Aside from these lessons, we’re also using invaluable information from our retailers and customers to guide us in the right direction.

I will never repeat the mistakes I made at True Religion, but I am grateful for the lessons I learned along the way, because now I know exactly how I want to run my business and how that contributes to success in the long-term.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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