#ChoosetoChallenge

In recognition of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we welcomed Jodi Bricker, CEO of Quay Australia, to talk with the Summit Team about how she’s built her career and the advice she has for young women looking to build their own.

Growing Iconic Consumer Brands

A look into Jodi’s experience and her latest take on disruptive innovation: the eyewear industry

As Chief Executive Officer of Quay, Jodi is at the forefront of redefining social commerce. The Quay brand aims to bring bold style, affordability and self-expression to customers around the world while working to disrupt the monopolized eyewear category.

Under Jodi’s leadership, Quay has become one of the fastest-growing independent brands and a dominant player in the eyewear industry; Quays sunnies and blue light glasses are now available in 35 countries with over 1,500 points of distribution, including 15 company-owned retail shops. In 2020, Jodi drove the company to achieve strong year-over-year growth — despite the downward trend in retail during the global pandemic — and solidified Quay’s status as one of the most buzzworthy, purpose-driven eyewear brands. During her tenure as CEO, Quay has launched a series of celebrity collaborations with the most notable names in Hollywood, including Lizzo, Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen and, most recently, Ashley Graham. Additionally, the company has donated over $750,000 in the past year to causes that amplify and nurture the self-expression, confidence and wellbeing of their global communities.

As a working mother of two teenage daughters, a former college athlete and leader of a 75% female organization, Jodi is inspired and motivated daily by woman empowerment and mentorship across all aspects of her life.

A Bias for Action and Disbelief in Dead Ends

Guiding principles that helped shape Jodi’s career

Among the foundational characteristics that Jodi cites for her success – and looks to cultivate in others – is a willingness to speak up, a drive to raise a hand for new opportunities and the courage to take risks.

Jodi credits her childhood experience on teams and on the tennis court for helping her to learn these lessons early on. In Jodi’s words: “As women, we tend to aim for perfection; to prioritize likeability or presentation. We say ‘I’ll raise my hand when I’m ready or only after I’ve learned this next skill’ instead of diving into new challenges. But as an athlete, I learned how to try, to fail and to try again. That is the mindset we want to cultivate – one that encourages you to jump in, make mistakes and get better – to rely on and believe in yourself.”

Jodi has leveraged this mindset to share her voice throughout her career. Prior to her tenure at Quay, she raised her hand to help to build the Old Navy brand. She then gained additional credibility working to launch Gap Inc.’s online presence. Always, she has worked with a bias for action and disbelief in dead ends, and this approach has positioned Jodi to help build some of the biggest brands in retail. Now, she’s committed to paying it forward for the next generation of female leaders.

 

Fostering a Sense of Belonging

Tactics for amplifying the voices of women in the workplace

The Quay brand is known for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and being outspoken on issues of social justice, racial and gender equality and LGBTQIA+ rights. These principles are important to Quay’s customers – as well as to the company’s employees. As Jodi explained, fostering those values internally is key to cultivating an authentic brand. It’s a constant work in progress, but building an inclusive brand for the Quay community is one of the brand’s ongoing priorities.

At Quay, amplifying women’s voices is something they strive to do every day. At the center of that status quo is “creating an environment where people feel like they belong.” To get there, Jodi believes the onus is on leadership to make space for everyone to feel comfortable participating. For example, make a point of asking every meeting attendee their thoughts on the topics you’re discussing. “You need the second and the third idea to get to the fifth idea. And that’s often where brilliance is. Every person interacting in the collaborative process gets us closer to a better answer. If a woman — or anyone — at the table isn’t speaking, we’re going to get to an inferior product by not understanding that perspective.”

While Jodi prioritizes leadership training at Quay to help foster an environment of inclusivity, she also emphasized that participation is a two-way street. Women should put in reps to build the skills needed to speak up, offer an opinion and in turn elevate their career.

Networking and Taking Risks

Advice for young women building a career

“You don’t really learn until you hit the edge. Playing it safe gets you nowhere.” Jodi’s comments emphasized the importance of networking, particularly for women in the early stages of their career. Put yourself out there; ask your questions; reach out to others to build relationships.

Jodi believes company leadership bears responsibility for building a foundation for networking and mentorship within the workplace. Formal mentorship programs, regular networking opportunities, or even something as simple as a buddy system help give women access to the different points of view and kindles relationships that can promote confidence and a sense of belonging.

But networking does not and should not stop at the boundaries of your workplace. “Don’t be afraid of connecting with people outside your circle of familiarity. That’s where the real opportunities are. That’s where you meet new people and gain new perspectives.”

To say that Jodi “practices what she preaches” would be an understatement; she has boldly moved across the retail space and now leads one of the most disruptive eyewear brands in the world all while promoting a sense of belonging and empowerment within Quay and throughout her vast network of women in business. We are inspired by her approach to leadership and her commitment to empowering women. As Summit continues to celebrate Women’s History Month, we are proud to celebrate the achievements of Jodi and to recognize the work of the many incredible women across the Summit Partners Network.

Additional perspectives: Q&A with Jodi Bricker

What does it mean to “fail fast”?

Since much of my career has been working for startup or growth phase companies, I was always doing something new or “off the grid.” Failing fast means being courageous enough to try out something new, see if it works, and if it doesn’t, to try something else. No one should just believe their own hype; you need a proof point around a concept, and the only way you know if it will work or not is if you try. If it doesn’t work out, you just made space to try out a different idea.

Talk about a time you had to pivot your thinking to understand what was important to other people you were working with or pitching to.

I always think about tailoring my approach or message to an audience. I think this is one of the superpowers of women: leading with empathy and putting yourself in someone else's shoes to understand their perspective; being both capitalist and humanist. I love growing businesses, but I also know that this only happens through people.

What are the major differences in scaling a private equity-backed business (Quay) vs. a corporate-backed business?

No matter the owner, any business is ultimately about solving problems for your customers. However, I find that working with investors means I can look further out and see things from a different vantage point. I love bringing that perspective to my team. Now I come to my team with a clear understanding of market opportunities and challenge them to help me capture those opportunities.

Quay store front

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