True Religion CEO Farla Efros on redefining the company’s mission and being an interim executive

Farla Efros never expected to be the CEO of True Religion, one of the most recognizable apparel brands in the industry, but she took the leadership role during a time of need for the brand. As interim CEO, she’s been shaking things up — but also settling others down — since June.

Ladders spoke with Efros to find out more about her role, the most exciting things happening at True Religion right now, and how she’s working with the team to redefine the brand’s focus.

In your opinion, what is the role of interim CEO?

“An interim CEO is a person appointed by a company’s board of directors to assume the role of the chief executive officer during a time of transition or as the result of the sudden departure of the company’s previous CEO.

“My goal as the interim CEO of True Religion is twofold: In stage one, it’s to stabilize the business, to restructure and de-risk the company and reduce working capital needs. In stage two, my objective is to optimize, building on the foundation we established in stage one.”

What is the biggest industry trend that True Religion is keeping its eye on right now?

“We have our eyes on streetwear, denim, and athleisure. We spent a lot of time in the market as we are a design-led organization and thus need to be leading on the design front.”

What are you most excited for at True Religion right now?

“True Religion is in a turnaround and reinvigoration phase and it’s so exciting to a part of this. We are in the midst of an evolution and our path forward has now been set. We have just completed redefining our mission, vision, and values and developing our strategic plan which sets us on the right journey for a promising future.

“The most exciting part is where we are stretching as a brand and redefining our assets. The new designs and looks are just incredible. Our style is a combination of high energy and creativity; it’s early days but there’s more to come.”

Did you ever think you’d be a CEO? What’s the most surprising part?

“No, I really didn’t; it was an opportunity that just presented itself organically. The most surprising part of it is how rewarded and inspired I feel every day. The people around me are so incredible and passionate about the brand and the new path that we’ve set; it’s encouraging to see. My favorite thing is to push people outside of their respective comfort zones, to help them become their best.

“The other surprising thing to me is that, as I start my day, it often quickly unfolds into something different. I love to be stretched and I have learned so much in such a short period of time; it’s so exciting. No task is too small or unimportant. I will never say “that’s not my job.” The more I take on, the more comprehensive my view of the business.”

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

“There are a few pieces of advice that have been so important to me. Watch and Listen. Be decisive. It’s ok to make mistakes and not to have all the answers. Surround yourself with great people, lean on other people’s experience and expertise, be humble and open to new ideas. Finally, I learned the importance of communication and trust, and working as a team.”

Is your morning routine an important part of your day? Why or why not?

“Yes, very much so. I get up, have my coffee, text my daughter, work out and then walk to work with the intention of taking some time to myself to review my calendar and prepare for the day ahead. I like to get into the office in the early hours and spend time preparing so I am ready to go in advance of any meetings.”

How would you describe the True Religion company culture?

“Funny you should ask. We just recently worked together to redefine our new mission, vision, and values. I spent a lot of time listening and speaking with our employees at our corporate headquarters, our New York and International offices, and in stores. It was a powerful, insightful and inspired exercise.

“To ensure we stay true to our values, our culture is marked by Drive, Passion, and Respect. We work hard and are dedicated to our mission. We’re passionate about the work we do, it’s why we come in every day and what gets us up in the morning. And we make sure that we treat each other with consideration and kindness so that everyone feels safe and appreciated in our workplace.”

What advice would you give to someone interviewing with True Religion?

“If you want to work in a place that is in love with the brand if you want to learn, stretch and be part of something incredible, then this is the place for you. We work hard and play hard but we are all aligned with where we want to go.”