Credo, the pioneer in the clean beauty movement, and its majority investor, NextWorld Evergreen, are announcing the appointment of Maureen Chiquet as an independent director of Credo’s board. Chiquet will become the fifth woman to join the board, shifting the composition to 70% female leadership for the first time since Credo was founded in 2014, by the late Shashi Batra and Annie Jackson.
It’s incredibly impactful for a brand like Credo to be female-driven at the top, given that the clean beauty community is being led by women: over 90% of the brands in Credo’s roster are founded or led by women, and both Credo’s cofounder, Annie Jackson, and CEO, Dawn Dobras, are women.
Credo opened its first store in its home city of San Francisco in 2015. Its mission from the start was to change the way people think about the products they use every day. Its name — Credo — is reflective of the belief that there is a better way to look beautiful with both style and substance. It’s a belief in a holistic vision for what beauty is: looking good and feeling good.
And since Credo is a platform for clean beauty, its goal remains amassing what it believes are the best brands the space has to offer. So not only does the product have to fill a white space in the store – it has to work, smell good, and comply with Credo’s “Dirty List,” a robust list of ingredients which, due to safety and/or sustainability concerns, cannot be used as ingredients in any of the products the brand carries. (Credo currently boasts 10 retail locations across the United States.)
The addition of Chiquet to Credo’s board is significant for several reasons. For starters, her retail background in both luxury and iconic brands signals the strong strides clean beauty is making as the standard in the industry.
“I’m incredibly excited to be part of this movement, and I’m even more thrilled to join a board of a woman-led company, with the majority of women on the board now,” Chiquet shares. “This is the first time I can say that I’m on a board with a majority of women, so that’s exciting for me, given my background. I’m thrilled to be part of this revolution.”
Chiquet’s impressive resume includes L’Oreal Paris, where she began her marketing career in 1985, followed by The Gap in 1988, where she helped launch and build the Old Navy brand. This is where Chiquet first crossed paths with Dobras, as she explains: “Dawn (Dobras) and I worked together at Old Navy at a really exciting time when Old Navy was just at its infancy. So we were part of a team that helped build that behemoth company, and it’s really exciting for me to get a chance to co-create something new with her.”
Chiquet later served as President of Banana Republic in 2002, prior to becoming Chief Operating Officer and President of U.S. Operations of Chanel in 2003. In 2007, Chiquet became Chanel’s first Global Chief Executive Officer, overseeing all facets of the luxury, legacy label.
Chiquet left Chanel in 2016, and published a book, Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership and Success on Our Own Terms in 2017.
Among the other boards that Chiquet serves on? She is a non-executive director on the board of Canada Goose and MatchesFashion, as well as the non-executive chairwoman of luxury sneaker brand Golden Goose. Her background is even more fascinating and “beyond the label,” as she received a Bachelor of Arts in literature at Yale University, where she also served as a Trustee to the Yale Corporation and was a fellow of Yale University.
Chiquet’s passion for the arts is highlighted with her role as a Trustee to the New York Academy of Art. Her cultural background is one of the points Chiquet illustrates in her memoir, which focuses on the fact that women can be multifaceted and can achieve success with a hybrid of different passions, such as culture, the arts, and business prowess.
One of these passions is what led Chiquet to Credo: her love for clean eating, clean beauty, and a more holistic lifestyle and philosophy.
Recognizing the parallel to the organic food movement where sustainability, ethical sourcing, environmental impact, and health are key decision-making factors for customers, Chiquet sees this shift happening within the beauty industry. After all, now more than ever, people are choosing to support companies that are transparent and create products that are safe and align with their values. Inspired by Credo’s mission-driven brand proposition, Chiquet views Credo and the company’s trailblazing brand standards as the wave of the future.
I spoke with Chiquet about her vision for the future of beauty, why she’s aligning herself with Credo, and the importance of the female voice in retail and business today.
Karin Eldor: What compelled and inspired you to join Credo’s board? It’s a brand that’s so different from your previous experience…
Maureen Chiquet: There were both business and personal reasons for me. From a business perspective, I think clean beauty is the way of the future. The category itself has obvious tailwinds, witnessed by Credo’s success and then by all the new and exciting products that are coming on the market today in the clean beauty sector. And Credo is really truly the leader in the category because it has defined what clean beauty is with its Credo Clean Standard — and it goes beyond just organic or natural products. Credo has taken it to the next level with safety, sustainability, ethics, and transparency.
As well, both from a business and personal perspective, I love the fact that Credo is so inclusive. That’s not a trend, it’s a necessity, and Credo For Change — which is the brand’s BIPOC mentorship program — is incredibly relevant, and increasing the importance of inclusivity in today’s world.
On a personal note, I was coming out of a 30-plus career where I worked really hard. Because of some health concerns, I’ve had to adopt a cleaner way of living, so I changed my diet — I’m mostly gluten-free, I’m sugar free, and I care a lot more about what I actually put in my mouth. And so it’s a natural thing for me now to shift to caring about what goes on my body. And the last thing is, I’m big into supporting women in business and spent the better part of my career being mentored and mentoring women. So this is another chance for me to get to do that, from really close in.
Eldor: With you joining the board as an independent director, Credo’s overall board leadership will shift to majority women — for the first time in Credo’s history. This is, of course, an exciting milestone for the company.
Chiquet: It’s especially important right now for companies to represent both at the top and on their boards, the constituencies that they serve, and in the beauty space, as you know, the majority of the customers are women, so it’s critical to represent our customers.
I remember thinking early back in my career, back in the ‘80s, when I was a brand manager in hair color. I would sit in board meetings and executive meetings where it was mostly men around the table, telling the women brand managers or product managers what women actually wanted in their hair color or in their beauty products. I remember being really shocked at the time, and thinking, How do these guys know? Don’t we know better? We’ve come a long way since then, thankfully, but still women are under-represented in corporate boards and in the C-suite.
I was looking this up for another project I’m working on, and I think now in the U.S., 7% of the CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women — and that’s an increase! I don’t really feel like we’re ready to pop the cork on the champagne yet because it’s still pretty low when you consider how many women customers are out there and that women are the majority of customers.
Eldor: Your book, Beyond the Label: Women, Leadership, and Success on Our Own Terms, was published in 2017, in a time where the landscape for women in business and retail looked even more different. What inspired you to write this, at the time?
Chiquet: As I started to write and reflect back on my own career, I realized that I had learned a lot, and there were a lot of stories and lessons that I hoped to offer. As well, because I couldn’t mentor each and every person who asked me for guidance, my book was a way for me to scale my mentorship to a certain degree, which actually became the core reason of writing it.
Eldor: Given your illustrious resume and experience with large brands, the fact that you’re investing in and believe in Credo and the clean beauty movement speaks volumes for the direction and future of the category. What is your vision for the future of beauty?
Chiquet: I feel clean beauty is where the industry is headed, because it’s what the customers are now demanding. And if I look at the current generations and probably the generation to come — what they’re now calling “Generation C” or “the COVID generation” — these generations are aware of and care a lot about our environment, which is increasingly under threat, social equality, and they’re also watching their parents pay the price for maybe not having taken care of themselves, their health, what they put in their bodies, and what they put on their bodies. I think the category on the whole is similar to what the organic food category looked like, perhaps 20 years ago.
I remember a time when eating organically might have seemed a little bit niche, but now you go into any supermarket anywhere in the country, and almost any supermarket has some kind of organic offering, so it’s no longer niche at all. I see Credo as an early adapter because it’s become a trusted place for me to buy true clean beauty and frankly, I believe Credo is poised to become the next Whole Foods in the beauty space.