Cathy Beaudoin is getting back into the game after wrapping up her eight-year run building up Amazon’s fashion business.
Beaudoin has joined New York-based private equity firm General Atlantic as a special adviser and will help the company scout for deals and scale the businesses it investments in. She stepped down as president of Amazon Fashion in May.
At her new gig, Beaudoin will work closely with Andrew Crawford, managing director and global head of retail and consumer at General Atlantic, but will also connect with other aspects of the company’s business, including the Internet and technology team run by Anton Levy.
Crawford said, “As we continue to expand our relationships with innovative companies across the sector, Cathy’s extensive network and deep experience in e-commerce and brand-building and her proven track record of rapidly scaling businesses will make her a strong asset.” General Atlantic has $21 billion under management, including investments in Authentic Brands Group, Grupo Axo, House of Anita Dongre, Tory Burch and Zimmermann.
Beaudoin brings a singular eye and experience to her new job given that she will be evaluating and working with companies that are trying to stand out and be recognized by customers in the age of Amazon.
General Atlantic noted that Beaudoin led Amazon’s “successful push to become one of the largest apparel retailers in the United States.”
“Developing a bridge between the tech and fashion worlds, she brought hundreds of reputable brands to Amazon, elevated the store experience to engage customers, and worked closely with Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and other fashion leaders to establish Amazon as a strong industry partner,” the firm said. “During her tenure, she led Amazon’s 2012 sponsorship of the Met Ball, the opening of Amazon’s 40,000-square-foot photo studio in Williamsburg, N.Y., and a multiyear partnership with the CFDA to sponsor New York Fashion Week: Men’s.”
Before joining up with Jeff Bezos and Co., she established Piperlime under the Gap Inc. umbrella and held a number of senior marketing positions in the company’s Old Navy and Banana Republic divisions.
In an interview with WWD, Beaudoin declined to talk about her time at Amazon, but as she turns her attention to a new role, she suggested it is time for retail to return to its roots.
“I started my career in traditional retail and really my primary concern was about brand differentiation, product differentiation and I don’t think those things are any less important than they used to be, especially now,” Beaudoin said.
“Companies need to have incredible agility, the ability to understand their customer and intuit how they want to shop and how they want to engage. That’s never been more important,” she said. “Companies have to be obsessed with the customer experience and understand what the customer most values and deliver it, even if it’s not intuitive. It’s seeing around corners and understanding unmet needs.
“The spoils will go to the brands and retailers who are closest to their customer and innovate around how they are going to make their customers’ lives easier, how they’re going to connect with them more naturally and more helpfully,” she said.