Episode 122
September 6, 2022

Testing Over Failure

with Erin Moennich, CEO of Draper James

About this episode

Today, Lee sat down with Erin Moennich, CEO of Draper James, a classic American lifestyle brand founded by Reese Witherspoon inspired by her roots in the south. Erin shares about her journey to becoming CEO, what it was like growing up in the midwest, the different jobs she held before landing at Draper James, and why they believe failure should be named something else!

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • (2:05) Draper James, a women's lifestyle brand founded by Reese Witherspoon, named after her grandparents. Founded on the idea of making women feel great 
  • (4:50) What it was like growing up in the midwest with her family, and her passion for being in business when she was older
  • (7:09) What it was like attending Michigan State and moving to NYC after college, and working at Peter Solomon company to product development at Target, and how she ended up landing a job at Sachs, and then Bloomingdales, learning that working your way up is key
  • (15:20) How she got connected to LMVH, and why she took the role to experience a different way of selling and doing business
  • (20:00) What she learned from working at Giggle, in her first CEO role
  • (24:05) What she believes are the key things that have helped her in her journey to CEO 
  • (29:27) The difference between a failure and something that didn’t meet expectations, and why she chooses not to look at things as failures but as learning experiences 
  • (31:48) How she was given the opportunity to be the CEO of Draper James and how one of her overall goals was to drive growth and diversify sales
  • (39:00) What she thinks makes a great CEO, being a team player and being willing to get your hands dirty
  • (40:00) How she’s grown personally as a leader and has learned to be calm and a person of reason for the team
  • (42:15) The advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs and what’s next for Draper James

To Find Out More:



“You often pursue the things you're good at and can be successful at”

“The interesting thing about retail is that you really do have to start at the bottom”

“I don't wanna be afraid and I don't want my team to be afraid to try different things.”

“Each experience has prepared me in a different way. At various times in my career, I decided to try something totally different.”

“I'm always selling Draper James, whether it be to the end consumer, or my ideas to th by e investors, I'm always selling.”

“Being in retail there are always these huge ups and downs and you try a lot of different things.”

“Don’t be afraid to try different things in a measured way.”

“In a measured way, I wanna keep trying new things because I think that's the only way you get to the next step and the next stage.”

“It's important to maintain your network. Retail is a really small world and you run into a lot of people that you may have worked with at some stage. So you have to be kind to everyone.”

“I would never want to ask people on my team to do something that I wouldn't do. So you absolutely have to be willing to get your hands dirty.”

“Take each role a little slower, and that's something I say to the young people on my team is, enjoy it. I was always wanting to get to the next step, the next buying role at Bloomingdale's the next step at LVMH. And knowing that we all get where we're supposed to be in the end and we can all find these really exciting roles that make us wanna get outta bed every day. We all get there, and so, take it slow.” 

“Don't be afraid to try different things. As a CEO you do have to look after so many different aspects of the business. Getting those varied experiences earlier in your career is only gonna serve you very well if this is where you wanna end up. And so seeking out those opportunities and those experiences is super important.”

Read the transcript

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