Eileen Fisher is the Chief Creative Officer of EILEEN FISHER, INC., the clothing company known for its simple, beautiful designs. For the last thirty years, Eileen has looked at clothing through the lens of confidence and empowerment. Her original concept—pieces that work together to help women get dressed easily—still defines the company’s collections, which are sold at sixty EILEEN FISHER stores as well as at department and specialty stores across the US, UK and Canada.
Eileen ventured into fashion design in 1984. With $350 in the bank, she created four basic pieces and introduced them at The Boutique Show in New York City, where she received $3,000 in orders. At her second show, six months later, she presented an expanded eight-piece line—and brought in $40,000 in orders. EILEEN FISHER, INC. was born.
As the company has grown to sales of $350 million, it has become a leader in human rights and social responsibility. EILEEN FISHER is committed to organic and sustainable fibers and clothing that is made in the USA. Through its innovative recycling program, GREEN EILEEN, the company takes back its clothing so that it can be resold to support causes for women and girls. GREEN EILEEN, an initiative of the nonprofit EILEEN FISHER Community Foundation, also runs the EILEEN FISHER Leadership Institute, a summer program for girls.
Eileen attributes the company’s vision and success to an emphasis on collaboration, community and connection. “We cocreate the company,” she says. “It’s a different paradigm.” Company priorities come from deep thinking across teams. An emphasis on communication and transparency helps engage all employees, whether they are window designers, warehouse traffickers or sales associates. “It’s about cracking open the center of the company and creating the future together,” says Eileen.
Her latest passion is the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Lab, a project of Dr. C. Otto Scharmer’s Presencing Institute. Eileen is one of five participants from the United States working to develop alternative metrics to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and explore new ways of implementing well-being in societies around the world. “There is a movement building around this,” says Eileen. “People are starting to think differently about what it means to live in a world with finite resources. I’m hoping to explore these ideas and connect with other companies to see how we can create change. I’ve learned through the kind of collaboration we practice at EILEEN FISHER that when people create community and connect with others, they can do things that wouldn’t be possible if they acted alone.”
Eileen was born and raised in Des Plaines, Illinois, and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She moved to New York in 1973, working first as an interior designer and then as a graphic artist. She raised two children while launching EILEEN FISHER.
Her honors include the 2012 Leaders of Change award from the Global Conference for Social Change and the Board of Directors Award from the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the US National Committee for UN Women. She is a 2012 inductee into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.