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Lululemon Athletica: Chip Wilson (2018)

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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

So it used to be that the clothes you wore to the gym. Were like the absolute worst clothes you owned. You know the radio T. shirt. You got for free at some event sweatpants with your high school logo. You know the kind of short shorts Dr J. would have worn on the basketball court anyway. Most of this apparel was cotton-based Baggy. Didn't look so great in honestly. Nobody really cared. You had one job to do which was to sweat at the gym but at some point in the past ten or fifteen years all of that changed because suddenly the clothes you wore to work out. We're also the clothes you can wear to the grocery store or at a restaurant or even at work so for better or worse people were wearing their gym clothes outside of the gym on purpose and this trend it was called at leisure and chip Wilson. He was one of its pioneers. The brand he built out of his house in Vancouver is now worth more than fourteen billion dollars. Now before I go on let me just address. The elephant in the room chip has said some things that are well. How do I put this rude and Borish? He's put his foot in his mouth on several occasions. He's embarrassed the company and you will hear about some of that later on in the show. But he's also an open book and open to getting grilled all about his life. He's not a cautious media. Trains soundbites guy which is in part. What makes him interesting? Because that's sort of how chip grew up without any pretension middle class. Kid and Calgary. Canada chip was athletic. He played hockey and football. His Dad taught phys ed at the local high school and his mom was a seamstress she lived for it. It's were total passion was. She tried to make clothing for the kids. But of course we didn't. We'd never liked what she made for us. But you know if I want to spend time with my mom. It had to be editor foot in the sewing room. Until did you learn how to sew like from an early age. I can definitely so but more so I think it was working with the butterick patterns and watching my mum lay them down on the fabric and then and then how she moved them and twisted them in order to save fabric. I always say how important that is because once I got into big production and you'd lay fifty to one hundred layers of fabric down when you can save even five six seven inches a fabric that can mean thousands of dollars now before chip would go onto so and designed clothes for a living. He actually got his first real job at an oil company working a grueling incredibly lucrative job on the Alaska oil pipeline for almost two years. How much did you walk away with? How much cash interesting in? Today's dollars probably about six hundred thousand one hundred seventy five thousand. American is amazing amazing. Nineteen you were just given this cash. And that's simply because there was all this money to work on the Alaska oil by blood. I guess right and trade my life in for money I mean there was no girls. There was nothing there except for work so I also wonder you know if everyone got that opportunity with they have made the same thing out of it. I did a pretty good use your eighteen nineteen or twenty with a bunch of cash. So what did you? What did you do with the money? Well it all had three goals in Alaska when stolen my own house by the age of twenty To be in my own business by the age of thirty and retired by forty and retirement meaning that I was doing exactly what I wanted to do so so I did. I bought a house and then I Finished up my degree and I worked for an oil company. And this is an oil company Second in Calgary right because you you moved back there some Roy right and I guess in like the late seventies right Pretty much at around the time you graduate college or you start to make shorts like baggy shorts for men year. Because I didn't have to get it what it was like. At that time. Men were very short shorts. That were very very tight. You know you only have to look at movies from from the late seventies to get that kind of picture and And they made a lot of sense to me because I had very big legs and I was. I think because I was working out three times a day. I was always in a constant sweat and the idea of wearing shorts. Full-time was very appealing to me. Yeah and so you and these were like flower printed like loud Hawaiian like trader. Joe's like those shirts like that's what the shorts looked like. Yeah exactly but we have to see it in context that there was nothing like that before everything else. Was that era of Brown rust off color. Okra yellow like solid colors. There was no brightness in the world at all that time so that was a radical. Look so I started because I couldn't get loud flowered prints in two thousand meters which is kind of what a person needs to go into business. I started doing what my mom did. She quilted fabric so I would get masses of different types of patterns of fabric and then cut them into squares and then I would quilt them and then in order to keep the stability that I put up packing on it of black fabric. And then I realized I had reversible shorts so normally were they long and Begi and reversible. They just really revolutionized shorts. And then the skateboarder started taking them on because it kind of covers their knees even know about them. Did you start to sell them somewhere? Well I mean that's the invention of vertical retailing because I made about three hundred pairs of shorts up in nineteen eighty and I went to the big department stores here in Canada and they would have nothing to do with them so I had my first inventory problem so I thought what am I going to do so I basically set up a lemonade. Stand for the shorts. And in in Calgary in the downtown mall at Calgary and I had a partner girlfriend at the time and so we did that together and we would lay all the shorts out and then they would make like a thousand dollars a day selling the shorts and has making like a hundred and twenty dollars the oil company so it was tough to figure out the math of that and what these will not swimming shorts. What who would wear the shorts? What would you be doing while wearing shorts? Well these particular shorts you know. I couldn't release. It was tough in the oil business of conservative Calgary where people were practice suits and cowboy boots to them on loud begi shorts and so I originally called them barbecue shorts because I needed to give men needed an excuse to wear them. I knew they wanted to wear them. But as you know a couple of years went on and that's again that's when the skateboarding market took over from the surf market and the young boys you know like tend to eighteen started wearing them so this is this is one thousand. Nine hundred eighty. You've got barbecue shorts by the way the barbecue season in Calgary fairly short like a couple of weeks again forty days forty days. You've forty days or these shorts. And Calgary I mean not a brilliant marketing move but it worked people were like our barbecue and so nineteen eighty and then but at the same time you were still working for this oil company on the side or or. You're doing this and how long before you quit the oil company. Well ahead my goal of quitting being in my own business by thirty so I worked through company for five years and quit on my birthday. Your thirtieth birthday exactly. Did you create brand? Around around the barbecue shorts. Yeah I I called it. West Beach Which at the time was I think it's probably from being in San Diego whereas young and probably the the incredible feeling I had from living on the beach every day minute a little bit. Yeah when I was a little kid. And I being in Calgary. All's wanted to get back to the beach. I want to get back to the west coast. I think that's where I felt best. So that was the brand I built up around