Lululemon founder Chip Wilson: Why speed is critical for entrepreneurs

Lululemon founder: Speed to market is key for entrepreneurs in 2016

Spot a woman walking around town in Lululemon pants, and there's at least a decent chance she isn't coming from or going to a workout.

That is the impact that Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has had on women's fashion. The retailer has helped change the way women dress by rocketing athleisure, or athletic apparel that doubles as casual wear, into everyday use — even outside of the gym.

Want to build the next billion-dollar brand? Wilson has a simple tip for would-be entrepreneurs: Crank up the speed.

"I think you just have to believe in your brand, believe in your product and go for it," the billionaire told CNBC.

Wilson is already onto his next retail play — collaborating with his family on Kit and Ace, a retailer specializing in technical clothing that his wife and son founded.

"I think there's so much information on the web about competition, about what anybody else is doing that it's really about speed," he added.

Still, speed should not be at the expense of a quality product, Wilson said.

Wilson knows firsthand why quality is important and what happens when it does not meet expectations. In 2013, Lululemon found itself at the center of concerns about the quality of its pants, which retail just shy of $100. The company recalled some of its pants after finding that they were too sheer and subsequently struggled amid steeper competition in the athletic wear category.

While Wilson is best known for founding Lululemon, he got his first big break after founding retailer Westbeach Snowboard in 1979. He sold the company in 1997, before founding Lululemon Athletica the following year.

Last year, Wilson stepped down from Lululemon's board, but he remains its largest individual shareholder. Earlier this year, he wrote a letter to shareholders urging the company to reform.

If Wilson were to head Lululemon again, his first order of business would be in a perhaps unexpected spot.

"I would go and work in the store for a month, and I would work in the change room, and I would see what goes in and what comes out of the change room, and I'd ask a lot of questions," he said.

As for the secret to his success, Wilson said it stems from the passion he brings to the category.

"It's where my mind goes," he said. "I'm always thinking of how can I solve problems with clothing for the athlete."

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