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Rowing Blazers names former J.Crew EVP as new CEO

Tom Bottomley
17 May 2024

New York preppy fashion brand Rowing Blazers, which was acquired by Burch Creative Capital in February 2024, has appointed Laura Willensky as its new CEO.

Willensky has previously held  leadership positions at fashion and lifestyle brands, including as Executive Vice President (EVP) at J.Crew, EVP at Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Brand President at Talbots and Chief Commercial Officer at Away.

Earlier in her career, she helped lead Madewell and children’s brand Janie & Jack from inception and brand launch to profitability and national recognition.

Chris Burch, Founder of Burch Creative Capital, said: "We are so excited to have Laura join Rowing Blazers as our CEO. I am confident that her track record in apparel and deep experience as a merchant will have an incredible impact on our customers, our community and our business."

Co-founded by designer and former US national team rower Jack Carlson in 2017, Rowing Blazers has grown into a global brand during the last seven years, "known for its irreverent twist on classic British and American style" and its high profile partnerships.

In the 12 months before selling the company to Burch, Carlson designed and launched limited-edition collaborations with Gucci, Target, Tudor, Seiko, and Tag Heuer.

Carlson remains as Creative Director and still retains a stake in the Rowing Blazers business, along with his founding partner David Rosenzweig, who is also still involved.

Laura Willensky said: "I am incredibly inspired by everything that Jack and the Rowing Blazers team have achieved, and I see a clear opportunity to grow the business through amazing products and an unmatched experience for our customers.

"I am eager to lead the brand through such an exciting period of growth and expansion - both into new product categories and new markets."

Burch Creative Capital’s plans for Rowing Blazers include a significantly expanded women’s business, a more robust core offering, and new distribution, including a new flagship store.

For the Rowing Blazers acquisition, Chris Burch partnered with Tom Vellios, Co-founder of Five Below, and Jason Epstein, partner at Stonecourt Capital.

Willensky is the company’s second major hire since the acquisition, following the appointment of Grant Simm, previously CFO at Aimé Leon Dore, as CFO at Rowing Blazers.


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