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February 3, 2015

Chip Wilson, billionaire founder of Lululemon, quits.

chip wilson quits times

Via the Front Page of NY Times, a few choice quotes:

“…As he spoke, a shapely brunette approached from below. She passed us on the narrow trail, wearing pants with the Lululemon logo just above her tailbone. Wilson followed her backside with his eyes. He turned to me with a grin. “It’s my job,” he said. “I have to look.”

Lululemon

And, the inspiration behind Lululemon:

“If I could eliminate the middlemen, have my own retail stores and sell the pants for $90 to $95,” Wilson recalls thinking, “I bet you women will buy billions of them.”

lululemon logoRecovering yoga lululemonlululemon consumerism feminism buy shop funnylululemon green founder chip wilson yoga business

Chip is just as social-good and eco-minded as Lululemon—that is, not at all:

His “$54 million custom-built 30,000-foot Vancouver home (he owns three others) is the most expensive in British Columbia.”

lululemon_bag

Let’s repeat that: 30,000 square feet. Finally:

He likes to quote Ayn Rand — he once put “Who was John Galt?” on a Lululemon shopping bag — and to repeat the lessons of the Landmark Forum, the controversial program of motivational seminars founded on Werner Erhard’s ’70s EST philosophy of “self-actualization.” It has been called a cult, but Wilson told me that when he first discovered Landmark, he was struck by the idea that “once I take responsibility, then I have power.” He is a strict believer, and he has used it to shape Lululemon’s corporate culture…

Every employee is also strongly encouraged to enroll in the Landmark Forum at Lululemon’s expense. Wilson estimates that he has put between 20,000 and 30,000 people through Landmark training.

A 2010 lawsuit claimed that the company compelled employees to watch Landmark motivational movies at home and to attend classes, all without compensation. Nonetheless, conference calls about Lululemon business often begin with someone asking if anyone needs a “clearing” — the procedure by which Landmark teaches people to “declutter” the mind. There is much talk of “sharing” and “doing/being/saying.” It is all “a little brainwash-y,” one former manager of a New York City store told me.

It was Ayn Rand who led to Wilson’s initial falling out with the company board. Around 2011, Wilson says, he clashed with Lululemon’s C.E.O. at the time, Christine Day, over his desire to feature quotations from “Atlas Shrugged” on a series of shopping bags. The book was so inspirational to Wilson that he wanted to share it with the Lululemon masses…”

lululemon-john-galt-ayn-rand-bag

Read the full article here.

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