It will be a quick turn of the page for Paula Schneider.
The executive’s departure from American Apparel this month was swiftly followed by the news she is to assume the role of chief executive officer of Seven For All Mankind, Splendid and Ella Moss — part of Delta Galil Industries Ltd. — landing on her feet after a rugged 21 months at her former employer.
It was an abrupt exit for a ceo who arrived at American Apparel with the full intention of turning the business around after helming it through a bankruptcy, from which it emerged in February.
“I made the choice to leave,” she said in an interview.
Asked if she was satisfied with how things were left at the company, she pointed to her resignation letter to the board, which WWD obtained last month: “I think you have all of the information in there,” she said.
Schneider indicated in that letter the future of American Apparel would likely bear out in a sale, thus confirming earlier reports the firm is being shopped around for a prospective buyer. The “sale process currently under way for all or part of the company may not enable us to pursue the course of action necessary for the plan to succeed nor allow the brand to stay true to its ideals. Therefore, after much deliberation, and with heavy heart, I’ve come to the conclusion it is time for me to resign as ceo.”
She pointed to broader industry challenges that hampered her 20 months on the job in her resignation, but there was also a much more obvious headwind in founder and former ceo Dov Charney that also proved a distraction to the business.
“There was a lot of money spent on attorney’s fees that could have been spent on fabric and yarn so I think ultimately it was wasted cash and wasted energy and wasted time,” Schneider said.
She continued on the subject of Charney and the regular protests outside headquarters that were aimed at reinstating the founder at the firm, “I think it would have been helpful to have friendly terms [with him] as opposed to someone outside the building, yelling.”
She pointed to fall deliveries in stores now, which she said fully reflect the money, design talent and everything else related to improving the business.
“I think the biggest part of it was, really, just getting new goods into the stores,” she said. “We just now have for fall of this year started to get new goods into the stores and they’re selling. The turnaround is in place; it’s just a matter of the length of time it takes for it to happen. You know how this works. It’s in seasons; it’s not in weeks or months.”
Schneider said during her talk Tuesday at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit she wished she had communicated better and a little earlier with workers in a move that could have helped offset the influence of communications from outside the company aimed at motivating the workforce to rally for Charney’s return. That also included efforts by many workers to unionize.
“I never dealt with a union — or a faux union,” she told the crowd while on stage.