Lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Had a Falling Out With His Brand. Now He Wants Back In.
Entrepreneurs pour their hearts and souls into their businesses. Is there ever a good -- or easy -- time to walk away?
Chip Wilson has a long, tangled history with athleisure brand Lululemon. He created the company in 1998 and stepped down as CEO in 2005 after selling nearly half of it to private equity. He has since held various roles and remains its largest individual shareholder (which makes him a billionaire), but he’s been gone from its board since 2015, following an infamous misstep: In 2013, as the company dealt with a problem of its products pilling, Wilson told Bloomberg TV that “some women’s bodies” aren’t right for Lululemon. He later said he was talking specifically about how some women were incorrectly using the product as a compression garment instead of workout gear, comments that sparked a nationwide story about body image. Since then, Wilson has routinely and publicly criticized the company’s leadership from the sidelines -- and in October, he self-published a memoir called Little Black Stretchy Pants that lays out an argument for his return (and says he intends to become involved in the company once again). Here, Wilson and Entrepreneur have a candid conversation about a founder’s role in a company, and how to know when that relationship should end.
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