Risk and Reward

Lisa Bougie ’91 is in the business of wellness and stability. She’s used her skills to advise brands like Gap, Patagonia, Stitch Fix, and Nike.

Risk and Reward
Stock photo courtesy Pixabay

Shifting from well-established apparel brands to nascent and growing ones has allowed Lisa Martin Bougie ’91 to support companies with an agenda—build a better world. From Gap to Patagonia, Nike to Stitch Fix, today Bougie governs and advises  brands and businesses that advance wellness, climate action, and social justice, putting to work values she honed as a student at SCU.

When Bougie began her career in corporate retail, brands like Benetton, Esprit, and Gap ruled the day. Bougie was all in.

She’d grown up loving these labels, and the companies made early impressions about how customers adopted certain brands to express their values.

Fast forward to today:  The values that brands uphold are more important than ever. Stakeholders are demanding it.

It’s also where Bougie looks to lead now, using her experiences at values-driven retailers like Patagonia and Eileen Fisher and data-driven digital commerce know-how honed at Stitch Fix. She’s governing, advising and investing in early-stage companies with mission orientations that are committed to wellness, climate action, and social justice. They include a personalized skin care line based on a woman’s hormones, a subscription-based organic feminine care company, a software platform that radically reduces brand waste as informed by consumer data, and a women’s sport apparel brand.

Bougie Hs
Among a long lineup of leadership roles, Lisa Bougie ’91 is on the board of Eileen Fisher and an advisor to the Leavey School of Business/Silicon Valley Executive Center Women’s Corporate Board Readiness Program. Photo courtesy Bougie.

“The world needs powerful examples of possibility,” says Bougie. “All of the companies that I now work with are examples of responsible business—and responsible business, by the way, doesn’t mean lack of shareholder value,” she explains. “In fact, quite the opposite: it means creating more value for all stakeholders over time.”

Possibility is something Bougie has long been able to see before others. At 16, she set her sights on Santa Clara, with a plan to study at the Leavey School of Business and the Retail Management Institute. After graduation, she worked at San Francisco-based Gap Inc. for more than a decade before moving on to Patagonia, and then Nike where she spent another 10 years leading retail and merchandising.  Bougie made the leap to then-budding Stitch Fix in 2013.

Values like sustainability and social justice, fortified by the scaling power of data science, are what Bougie believes brands and businesses must embrace to achieve durability, resilience and customer resonance.

“I suppose the problem is in the solution, and the solution is in the problem,” says Bougie about the challenges facing retailers today. “After all, isn’t opportunity the flip side of risk?”

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