Born the daughter of Jamaica and Trinidad immigrants in East London, England, in 2008, at age 26, Grede founded her own marketing agency, ITB Worldwide, a London-based talent management and entertainment marketing agency. Upon the company being acquired in 2018, by Rogers & Cowan, and Grede exited the company.
Fast forward to decades later, today, Emma Grede is the CEO and Co-Founder of Good American, the first fully inclusive fashion brand that celebrates female diversity.
The US-based premium apparel label which promotes a healthy body inclusive size range was founded in October 2016 alongside Khloe Kardashian.
Good American which skyrocketed in sales since the first day of establishment lends supports to charity Step Up that which young women realize their full potential.
Grade is also a founding partner of Skims, and co-founder of Safely.
Recalling her journey, Emma, 40, during her teenage years attended the London College of Fashion, so upon graduation she decided to get to work, learning all there is. According to her, naivety played a major role in challenging her for success:
“I didn’t know anyone growing up who had their own business,” Grede tells CNBC Make It. “So I really didn’t know what I was getting into.”
“I had been around a lot of people, seeing clients and deals,” Grede says. “I just imagined, ‘Well, if they can do it, why can’t I?'”
Further explaining, she disclosed her first six months were the hardest, spending hours on the phone, cold calling clients, and taking only a “menial salary” for herself.
“On separate occasions, [I] hired people that I was paying more than myself,” she says. “I knew that I needed to compensate for my own inadequacies or gaps in my knowledge.”
Grede says those phone calls taught her how to listen: She’d hear prospective clients describe what they wanted, and then speak their own words back to them. “I can’t tell you how many pitches I have won in my life [that way],” she says. “They’d say, ‘You understand exactly what we need.'”
Lessons well learned helped her land major brand partners, like Dior —and celebrity clients like Natalie Portman and Kris Jenner, and eventually leading to her partnerships with the Kardashian sisters.
In hindsight, she says, launching a start-up at age 26 or uprooting her life in England to move to Los Angeles might not have been the smartest ideas at the time. But that doesn’t mean she regrets them now.
“I actually look for those opportunities in my life, where can I learn or put myself into situations where I’m a little bit unfamiliar,” says Grede. “Because actually, I think that is what helps me to grow.”
Emma Grede is a member of the Women for Women International’s Global Board of Directors and a Women for Women International-UK Ambassador.