Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake and a legacy of female firsts

April 14, 2021, 1:11 PM UTC
Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix.
Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The J&J vaccine pause highlights women’s health, broadcast networks are shaking up their news divisions, and Stitch Fix gets a new CEO. Have a good Wednesday.

– Getting her fix. Yesterday, Stitch Fix announced that founder Katrina Lake is stepping down as CEO. Lake isn’t leaving the company all together—she will become executive chairperson and remain an employee, shifting her focus to the styling company’s social impact and sustainability work. 

Lake, who is not yet 40, leaves the CEO post with quite a legacy: When she took her company public in 2017, Lake was the youngest female founder ever to do so. (That record has since been beaten by Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd, with Lake cheering her on every step of the way.) At the time, Stitch Fix had a management team that was half female, and a board where women held three of the seven seats. Lake’s also part of a very small club of women to have IPOed her tech company, and now, as she relinquishes the corner office, becomes the rare female CEO of a public company to hand the reins to another woman. (Among the Fortune 1000, there are only a handful of examples—including Xerox, Avon, and Chico’s FAS—to be found.)

Stepping into Lake’s big shoes is Elizabeth Spaulding, who joined the company as president in January 2020. Formerly of Bain & Co., she will become Stitch Fix’s second-ever CEO starting Aug. 1.

Lake will leave the CEO job with Stitch Fix in a relatively strong position, although the company has been dealt some financial blows by the coronavirus pandemic, like most retailers, and is in the early stages of exploring a new business model. The founder recently told Emma that she doesn’t follow every up and down of the company’s stock, but there’s no missing that its strong performance earlier this year earned her the status of self-made female billionaire. And though the market did not love the news that Lake is stepping down, her departure from the C-Suite doesn’t take away the impressive data-gathering capabilities that have allowed the company to adapt quickly to customers’ changing needs—a skill that’s become all the more valuable during the pandemic.

We’ll be watching to see what Stitch Fix does under Spaulding’s tenure—and whether it can beat the general malaise that seems to be plaguing the fashion world in this era of WFH sweatpants and tie-dyed tees. And we’ll certainly be very curious to see what Lake does—both at Stitch Fix and, perhaps eventually, beyond—in the years to come.

Kristen Bellstrom

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Pressing pause. The CDC and FDA recommended a pause on the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a rare side effect that has so far affected women: the risk of blood clots. The six vaccine recipients who developed blood clots were women between the ages of 18 and 48. Some people have compared the risk to that of blood clots correlated with taking oral contraceptives—although those comparisons aren't exact. The Atlantic

- Riding to a record. Southeast Asian rideshare startup Grab will go public through a SPAC merger with Altimeter Growth Corp. in the largest SPAC deal yet. Grab's cofounder is Hooi Ling Tan, who has served as COO. Fortune

- Broadcast news. Susan Zirinsky is reportedly preparing to step down as president of CBS News; in 2019, the legendary journalist was the first woman named to the role. It's a moment of transition in broadcast news, as ABC News is reportedly close to naming Kimberly Godwin head of its news division. New York Times

- City connections. In the close-knit city of Minneapolis, Daunte Wright, who was killed by police officer Kim Potter this week, had a connection to George Floyd; Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross, who recently testified in Derek Chauvin's trial over Floyd's death, was one of 20-year-old Wright's teachers. Wright's mother, Katie Wright, and aunt, Naisha Wright, addressed the media to speak about their grief and share memories of Wright yesterday. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Reuters promoted global managing editor Alessandra Galloni to editor-in-chief; she's the first woman to lead the publication in its 170-year history. Airbus chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini will depart the role; she'll be succeeded by Sabine Klauke. Workplace culture analytics platform Emtrain hired Odessa (OJ) Jenkins, a former exec at YouCause and founder of the Women’s National Football Conference, as president. Dr. Meera Garcia, former chief of general Ob-Gyn at New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley, joins Advantia Health as chief medical officer. 


- Counter deal. Private equity firm Carlyle Group will take a majority stake in the parent company of Beautycounter, the beauty brand founded by CEO Gregg Renfrew. The deal values parent Counter Brands around $1 billion. Wall Street Journal

- Historic roundtableVice President Kamala Harris hosted a roundtable on Black maternal health—marking the first time the White House has ever issued a presidential proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week. She was joined by Susan Rice to discuss how systemic bias creates a maternal health crisis for Black women. New York Times

- Nomination question. Kristen Clarke's nomination to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division has encountered partisan opposition from the right. Fortune's Ellen McGirt dives into what's at play in the confirmation process in Broadsheet sister newsletter raceAhead. A group of corporate general counsel execs signed a letter pushing for her confirmation. Fortune

- Against NDAs. Ifeoma Ozoma, a former public policy staffer at Pinterest who has said she experienced racial discrimination there, writes about how she's now working to prevent non-disclosure agreements from being used to keep quiet others with similar experiences. She's helped California lawmakers draft the Silenced No More Act. New York Times


Biden administration to lift abortion pill restriction amid pandemic CBS News

Esther Perel goes off script Vulture

The extraordinary story of the ‘founding mothers’ of NPR Fortune


"Once you notice a dude wall, you see them everywhere. They’re in every auditorium, every hallway, every departmental office, every conference room."

-Leslie Vosshall, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University, on a wall that used to display photos of Lasker Award and Nobel Prize winners, all of whom were men. Rachel Maddow coined the term on a visit to the university. 

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