September 30, 2022
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Virginia Thomas testifies before the Jan. 6 panel; Bed Bath & Beyond attempts another comeback; and iconic shapewear brand Spanx names its next chief executive.
Taking shape. Atlanta-based apparel brand Spanx, best known for its shapewear products, announced the promotion of longtime executive Kim Jones to CEO on Friday.
Jones was only 30 years old and a new mom when she joined Spanx in 2005. She previously held finance positions at Coca-Cola and EY.
“I made a commitment to myself then that I wanted to have it all; I wanted to be a successful mom and have a successful career,” Jones tells Fortune. After a brief spell as chief financial officer and then CEO at SweetWater Brewing Co. from late 2013 through 2015, Jones returned to Spanx as CFO and was promoted to president in 2018. Now, Jones feels she’s met the commitments she made 17 years prior. “In the same year that I’m celebrating my career by stepping into the CEO role, my daughter also graduated from high school and is now a beautiful, confident young woman in college,” she says. “It’s been just a great year of celebrating the goals that I set for myself.”
Spanx is coming off a landmark year. In November 2021, the company, founded by Sara Blakely in 2000, finalized a majority stake sale to Blackstone. (The private equity firm has recently invested in several female-founded brands, including the dating platform Bumble in 2019 and Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine, earlier in 2021.) The transaction placed Spanx at a $1.2 billion valuation. Jones, who has led the company’s day-to-day operations as president, worked alongside Blakely to secure the investment.
“Blackstone is such a wonderful partner in their strength and ability to help accelerate growth plans,” says Jones. But it’s not just that—their executives’ love of Spanx products has also made for a fortuitous relationship, she says. Jones recounts running into Ann Chung, Blackstone’s global head of consumer for its growth division, at the airport last year. Just moments before their encounter, Chung had serendipitously changed into a product that the Spanx team had given her at a previous meeting. “It takes a lot of commitment to get undressed in an airport restroom, and that’s when you know you’ve got a great partner,” Jones adds.
Since becoming president, Jones has overseen Spanx’s digital transformation and extension into apparel. But her most considerable effort over the past year has been expanding Spanx’s leadership team, which has doubled since the Blackstone acquisition. The shapewear brand announced four additional promotions and talent moves on Friday, including the appointment of Misha Nonoo (best known for her eponymous women’s ready-to-wear brand) as chief brand officer and the promotion of Cricket Whitton to president and chief growth officer.
“We are working with best-in-class talent [who] have common leadership values and a common vision for our growth plan,” says Jones. “And it’s been through Blackstone’s partnership and helping us accelerate that hiring plan that has helped us round out the team to where it is today.”
Jones will continue to expand Spanx’s international and digital presence and apparel offerings. Earlier this year, the company released a collection of opaque white pants featuring its silver lining technology and partnered with Ashley Graham for the launch. Just last week, it launched its first-ever dress collection.
While the brand has established an international presence through retail partnerships, Jones says the company hasn’t served global customers digitally as in the U.S. Spanx recently launched a Canadian website and plans to move into other regions. “We have a great opportunity to build that relationship with a customer and serve that demand through the [direct-to-customer] channel internationally,” says Jones.
The company has 15 growth initiatives planned through the following year, including new product launches and continued international distribution.
“We’ve been very purposeful in building out the growth opportunities for the brand, and because of that, we’re in such a fortunate place where there are so many things ahead for the brand that we’re excited to do,” says Jones.
She also looks forward to working even more closely with Blakely, who will continue to serve as the chair of Spanx’s board and the company’s “favorite wear tester.”
“Sara and I have known each other for so long and are close. We’re both excited about this move,” says Jones.
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