The Power Of Authenticity And Perseverance: A Conversation with Katrina Lake, CEO of Stitc…


In honor of Women’s History Month, Glassdoor’s WinG ERG and Samantha Zupan, Vice President of Corporate Communications, hosted a dynamic fireside chat with Katrina Lake, Founder & CEO of Stitch Fix, to discuss the power of authenticity, following your path, and being a vulnerable leader, all while juggling parental duties. In 2011, Katrina founded Stitch Fix to help women everywhere discover and explore their style through a truly client-focused shopping experience. While attending Harvard Business School, Katrina saw an opportunity to combine data science with human stylists to reinvent the retail space completely, deliver an unparalleled, personalized experience, and guide consumers to items they love. 

Glassdoor has a similar mission to Stitch Fix, providing job seekers and career-conscious employees insights and data to guide their career journeys and help them find a company they love. Also, at Glassdoor, we know that a company is only as good as its people — and Katrina agrees. As a compassionate and empathetic leader herself, she values hearing her employee’s opinions and empowering them to make decisions within the Stitch Fix organization. She believes that’s a strong mark of being an effective leader. 

Katrina and Samantha also discussed the importance of persevering through tumultuous times and hardships. Katrina shared her cultural background, being a woman in a male-dominated venture capitalist world, and the examples of strength and perseverance she observed and modeled from her great grandmother and grandmother. Katrina serves as a positive role model to many entrepreneurial and career-driven women who are also mothers to step in your authenticity to achieve your goals and dreams.

Wondering what exactly you missed out on? Check out our four impactful takeaways from Katrina Lake.  

Finding a way by showcasing perseverance and flexibility. 

As a Japanese-American entrepreneur and mother navigating the tech space, Lake faced several challenges, which were breaking through syemstic biases to gain new capital to fund Stitch Fix. She made her mark in a male-dominated industry, becoming one of the youngest women to take her company public at the age of 34 (until 2021 when she happily handed the title to Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble), and the only woman in 2017 to lead an initial public offering in technology, all while being a mother to a small child. 

“The idea of believing in possibility is undoubtedly foundational to my upbringing. I was really lucky to have female role models in my life. I do believe that there is a way and path. It might always be easy and it might not always be obvious but I feel lucky that I had this wide lens on what’s possible in the world because of the influence of these women in my life.” – Katrina Lake 

Embracing authentic and vulnerable leadership. 

“I clung on to the notion of authentic leadership, without knowing it had a name from the early days. It was the only tool that I had in my toolkit. I had never managed anyone before, I hadn’t had a big network. There was nothing extraordinary about me that would lead someone to think that I would be a kickass founder. The only tool I had around leadership was authenticity, bringing people along and having people feel like they were part of this journey and being vulnerable allowed people to buy into me in my vision. The idea of being authentic really serves you well across multiple stages of the company.” – Katrina Lake 

Don’t be performative without some type of action. 

“With Black Lives Matter, I didn’t want to say a bunch of words and not do something. I’m really proud of the work we did, we committed to sharing a bunch of data and that was a commitment that we made. We realized millions of dollars a year with vendors, which is economic power. When we looked at those dollars and how they were distributed it was pretty stunning in terms of how Black vendors were massively underrepresented in our vendor base. That was something we could do something about, and something that did make a difference.” -Katrina Lake 

Knowing your power as a leader and individual. 

“It’s helped my mental state to focus on things that I actually have control over. There were tons of things I couldn’t control. To be able to accept the things that are not in your control and to be able to feel empowered by things that you do have control over, it’s a really powerful concept and one that we talk about at Stitch Fix too. How can you feel empowered by the things you can control versus limited to what you can’t? There were a lot of things that weren’t able to control last year (COVID-19) but we all found a way.” -Katrina Lake

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