November 4, 2016

Dov Charney 1: Labels

by StartUp

Background show artwork for StartUp

The Story

Season 4 of StartUp continues with the story of an entrepreneur who built a widely recognized business, lost it all, and is now starting over—from scratch. That entrepreneur is former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney. Over the next several episodes, we’ll hear as he makes his second attempt at success, and creates an entirely new company in the shadow of his controversial past.  

The Facts

David Herman mixed the episode.

Our theme song was written and performed by Mark Phillips.

Our updated theme was remixed by Bobby Lord.

The special ad music, Microliters, was written and performed by Build Buildings.

Our logo was designed by Elias Stein. Additional music from the band 

Where to Listen


ALEX: From Gimlet Media, I’m Alex Blumberg. You’re listening to StartUp, the podcast about what it’s really like to start a business. The last couple episodes, as you know, have been about Gimlet Media, the company I started with Matt Lieber. But that was just the appetizer for the season. We’ve now arrived at the main course.

A quick warning: this episode, like many of the others in this series, does include some sweating.

For the greater part of a year, my co-host Lisa Chow has been reporting a story that will unfold over the rest of the season. A fascinating story. Lisa’s here in the studio with me now. Hey, Lisa.

LISA: Hey, Alex.

ALEX: How’s it going?

LISA: Ugh it’s, it’s — it’s going okay.

ALEX: That question always throws you off. You’re so bad at in-studio banter.

LISA: I know, I just… I don’t know how I’m doing. I never know how I’m doing.

ALEX: So tell us what you’ve been working on.

LISA: Okay. So I’m just gonna say upfront, we're taking a hard right turn into a very different kind of story for the next several episodes. The guy we're following isn't a first time entrepreneur like you, Alex. This is a story about someone’s second act. And this founder — you might not know his name — but you have probably heard of his company.

ALEX:  His first company

LISA: Yes, his first company. He built one of the most iconic and well known brands in his industry. And at its height, the company employed 10 thousand people around the world and was worth nearly a billion dollars.

[stock exchange bell]

NOA: He created an industry that didn’t exist.

RYAN: This is an incredibly intelligent person, this is an incredibly hands-on person. This is someone who is incredibly passionate about what they’re doing. And I think it also seems like – you get sucked up in it. I want to help this person, I want to be involved. They clearly believe in what they’re selling and I now believe in it too.

TEENA: He’s a master manipulator. He’s really good at manipulating people and I think manipulating is taken as a negative word for the most part and it can be but being a you know, a manipulator is a jedi. You’re a Jedi, if you can manipulate people. It’s like, the sky is red yes! The sky is red.

TACEE: There is a code of ethics — a standard within the workplace. There are laws that protect people in the workplace and those lines were crossed.  The kind of easy, obvious answer is — you don't sleep with your staff.

SPRING: He likes women. I mean he's a womanizer. But I don’t... he doesn't hide that fact you know? He loves women, he's very much affected by them.

LIBERTY: He’s just in his world, where he’s just go. There’s no thought of, what are they thinking of me, or this or that, he’s just like unfiltered, out the faucet.

RYAN: And you walk down the halls with him, and the workers would cheer. I’ve never seen anything like it.

TACEE: Do I want to stand by him and believe in him? He certainly stood up for me when I needed him. And I think that he is a good man. And I think he is misunderstood. So I want that to come through loud and clear.

ALEX: The entrepreneur we’re focusing on for the rest of this season is the highly controversial founder and ex-CEO of American Apparel... Dov Charney.

NEWS TAPE: Dov Charney has built American Apparel into a phenomenon in the

clothing business by being different.

ALEX: Dov first gained attention by revolutionizing one of the blandest and most basic products: the plain, cotton t-shirt. Back in the 90s when Dov was just starting out, most t-shirts on the market were coarse and boxy. Dov created a softer, more fitted, logo-free t-shirt. And pretty soon, everyone was copying him. But while other manufacturers were moving their production overseas, Dov’s clothes were made in America, right in downtown Los Angeles.

NEWS TAPE: And every hop skip and step of the way he was just reveling in the thrumming throwback business of making stuff in America. 

LISA: The company became a cultural symbol. American Apparel made clothes that were sexy AND affordable. And it paid its garment workers wages well above the industry average. Dov started with just one retail store in 2003. By 2009 he had hundreds, in cities around the world.

NEWS TAPE: Growth has been explosive. American Apparel is a fashion sensation.

LISA: At the same time, Dov was getting attention for other stuff... worse stuff. That made the news as well.

NEWS TAPE: In the past couple of years, Charney has faced three sexual harassment suits.

LISA: Dov denied the allegations. None of the claims were ever proven in court. And the business continued to grow.

But then, in 2014, American Apparel’s board fired Dov and installed a new CEO. The company Dov had spent 25 years building was no longer his.

What made it worse, American Apparel — under new management — filed for bankruptcy. The shares dropped to zero, destroying Dov financially.

That’s the situation that Dov was in when I first met him.

DOV: You know, I was…  I built a massive company in town everybody was proud of it we were doing well. People wanted to sell me, we had money, we were able to raise money when we needed it. It was fine. ‘Cause the company was worth a fortune. It was a company I think was worth over a billion dollars when it was taken from me. Now I'm running around in a little Hyundai, with you, and we're doing a podcast on startups? Gimme a fuckin’ break. I had already been on top of the mountain, you know? I didn't have a care in the world about money, personally. They, like, locked me outta my own house and laughed at me.

LISA: So now, Dov’s starting over again.

He's launching a new business — one that looks a lot like his old business. Dov plans to manufacture tshirts and clothing basics in Los Angeles, just like he did with American Apparel.

ALEX: For the past many months, we’ve been following Dov as he sets out to build this new business, overcome the past, and make a comeback. Lisa, you made your first trip to meet Dov back in March. Why don’t you take it from here.

[StartUp Theme]

LISA: Before we get to Dov, there’s a thing you should know about me… I hate shopping. For six years, I lived across the street from an American Apparel in Brooklyn. I remember going in twice. And I bought white socks and black leggings.

I’ve been a business reporter for a long time, but the fashion industry has never been my focus. So when we started talking about doing a story on Dov Charney, I called up some friends to get their perspective. They told me… be careful. There's been a lot of weird stuff reported about him. But ... I wasn’t worried. If anything, I was intrigued. Were the stories true? What is it like to start over after such a dramatic fall? Who is this guy, anyway?

LISA: Do you want to tell me how you’re doing today?


DOV: Doing good. Mondays… Mondays are always nuts.

LISA: I met Dov at his home in Los Angeles. He’s a youthful 47 — quick and animated. His hair is uncombed and he’s a little disheveled in sneakers and a white t-shirt. 

We’re heading out for the day. I’m in the passenger seat. Dov’s driving. My producer Kaitlin is sitting in the backseat. 

DOV: You okay back there?


DOV: Okay.

LISA: And I’m not exactly sure where we’re going. We’re on a vague mission to track down some suppliers for Dov’s business. He’s just starting out, developing a new line of t-shirts. As I’ll come to learn, Dov doesn’t stick to a schedule. So, the only way to interact with him is to be along for the ride.

DOV: So, we have choices. I don’t really decide where I’m going until we’re, like, on the freeway. There’s different exits for different things, it depends how I feel. ‘Cause if I had the ability to be in five places at the same time as one I would.

LISA: Today’s first stop: FedEx.

DOV: Do you see a FedEx? Let’s ask Siri. Oh, shit this one doesn’t have Siri on it. Where’s Siri? Siri took a break. Siri’s fed up. Siri doesn’t want to be my friend.

LISA: Dov’s going to Fedex to send off some legal documents.

After Dov was fired from American Apparel, he made several attempts to take back the company. He lost that fight in January of this year, but he’s still embroiled in legal battles with some of the owners of American Apparel. And because he’s low on cash, he’s representing himself.

Inside, Dov fills out the mailing label. And as we're standing there in line, I notice this guy lingering around, watching Dov. Finally, he walks right up to him and says, “we desperately need you back.”

ARA: We desperately need you back by the way.

DOV: Where?

ARA: I’ve been a wholesale customer for 15 years.

DOV: Yeah, yeah, nice to meet you. My name's Dov.

ARA: Dov. Ara, nice to meet you. 

LISA: Ara is dressed in joggers and a tight-fitting t-shirt. He’s never met Dov before but he recognized him.

Part of American Apparel’s business is selling blank t-shirts in bulk to screenprinters. Ara is one of these screenprinters. He’s been buying t-shirts from American Apparel for over a decade.

The first time Ara saw an American Apparel t-shirt he was blown away by how different it felt — soft and lightweight.  Then along came the tri-blend, a t-shirt made from cotton, polyester and rayon. Ara loved it.

ARA: I mean the last time the wheel was reinvented was when you guys did the

tri-blend. The last big revolution was the tri blend. I mean, am I right or wrong about that I mean

DOV: You're right. That was huge, that's a big business. That was one truckload a week.

ARA:  Yeah. I mean, it was huge.

LISA: Dov and Ara go back and forth, spouting off style names and thread-counts like they’re talking about baseball stats or vintage cars.

Ara tells Dov he’s still buying from American Apparel. But, lately, he hasn’t been impressed with the brand.

ARA: It feels like a mom and pop operation. It's horrible. Customer service is bad.

They're getting their counts wrong all the time. Inventory is a mess. Backorders


DOV: What are you buying from American Apparel right now?

ARA: I mean, it's dwindling because there's been nothing new for 3-­4 years now.

Absolutely nothing.

DOV: Yeah yeah

ARA: It's pathetic to be honest with you.

DOV: Yeah, well, I mean I haven't been there since… well, 3­-4 years I'm responsible but 2 years I'm not. Check out this new tee.

LISA: And just like that, Dov jumps into sales mode. 

Dov pulls at the sleeve of the t-shirt he’s wearing. He explains that it's part of his new line, a prototype of the next big thing in t-shirts. These days, everyone is making softer, lightweight shirts. But Dov is going back to the boxy, rugged look from the 90s.

We all thumb the fabric. It’s thick and sturdy. Dov holds the sleeve right up to Ara’s face so he can see the stitching.

DOV: Nice, eh?

ARA: Yeah it is.

DOV: This is like right off the press. Feel how smooth it is.

ARA: Yeah, it's fantastic.

DOV: It's tight too, I knit it super tight.

ARA: It really is something I've never really felt before. It's like the ultra softer version of like the Guild and Fruit of the Loom guys. You know what I'm saying?

DOV: Are you from Montreal?

ARA: I'm not. I was born in Dearborn Michigan.

DOV: Oh that's it! Yeah, so this one here...

LISA: Dov pulls another t-shirt from the gym bag he’s carrying. He tosses it to Ara.

           ARA: This is fantastic.

DOV: Yeah, this is going to blow. I’m telling you. I know what the market wants

right now.

ARA: I’m looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to it. I mean I know your history so I know it’s going to be good.

DOV: I'll send you a sample.

LISA: This run-in with Ara was almost hard to believe. We’re at a random Fedex. And somehow Dov runs into not just a potential customer, but his biggest fan.

ARA: I'm telling you right now I'm totally, totally on board.

LISA: Dov leans in and shakes Ara’s hand.

DOV: Come on! Show me some strength. I'm really touched. I won't let you down.

ARA: Alright, and I look forward to the stuff.

DOV: Ok, thanks. I appreciate the words of encouragement. Bye.

LISA: Ara leaves and we move ahead in line. Dov bounces on his toes, he seems lighter, pleasantly surprised. It’s such a coincidence, that I can’t help but ask the question:

LISA: Did you plant that guy?

DOV: I planted him here. I had to pay him some money because of you.

FEDEX EMPLOYEE: What's your last name sir?

DOV: Oh, Charney C-H-A-R-N-E-Y. That “E” doesn't look good.


DOV: Dov. Like a bird but no “E.”

LISA: The guy behind the counter calculates the shipping cost. The total is 44 dollars even. Dov swipes his credit card. As he hovers over the machine, his energy shifts from excited to anxious.


LISA: Once his card goes through...


FEDEX EMPLOYEE: Here’s your tracking number when you go to the website you can track it.

DOV: OK, thank you. Bye.

LISA: We head back to the car.

DOV: That was nerve wracking

LISA: Why was that nerve wracking?

DOV: I thought my credit card was gonna get declined on the podcast. It took so long. I went into this, I've always been paranoid about that, for years.

LISA: Paranoid about what?

DOV: Yeah as an entrepreneur, you often run your credit cards tight, you know what I mean? It just… it just… no matter how much money you have, it happens. And I thought my credit card was gonna get declined and I was like mortified but it didn't happen it was a false alarm.

LISA: I was actually kind of thinking the same thing.

DC: You thought it was going to be a perfect moment for you.


DC: Like you were going to capture this moment of anxiety and stress.


DOV: We’re south of the 10 freeway right now. This is where the excitement

happens. This is the new frontier in LA creative cool manufacturing maker movement. This is where things happen.

LISA: Today, Dov's working on his labels, the cloth tags that gets sewn into your clothing. A label, it’s a small detail on a t-shirt but it’s the kind of thing Dov will spend weeks perfecting.

There are hundreds of ways to make a label — different fabrics, sizes, colors.

Dozens of small businesses make these labels. They’re sprinkled all over south central Los Angeles. Dov’s visiting some of them today.

This is how he introduces himself.

DOV: My name is Dov, remember me? Dov, from American Apparel.

LISA: Dov built relationships with a lot of vendors in the early days of American Apparel, when the company was more of a startup. A lot of them still do business with American Apparel.  These businesses are mostly immigrant-owned, family-run, and they each specialize in a different part of the t-shirt making process. There are people who knit the fabrics. The dyers and washers. The sewers, the cutters, the labelmakers. A whole supply chain of people working behind the scenes to make a piece of clothing.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: What’s going on Dov?

LISA: It didn’t matter who we were talking to — old, young. Women, men. Hispanic, Korean, Persian — people were excited to see him. 

KOREAN WOMAN: Oh, hi. Long time! How are you?

DOV: Yeah! Good!

LISA: They treat him like an old friend. Give him hugs. Joke around. 

BOB: Let me see your ID.

LISA: This is Bob, a labelmaker.

When we meet him, he is standing in the doorway of a rundown shop, arms-crossed. But when Bob talks to Dov, his tough-guy exterior softens.

BOB: You ready to go finally?

DOV: Yeah. What are you doing?

BOB: I'm here to help you anything you need and I know everything you're going


DOV: Yeah?

BOB: Just don't forget us when you're at 100 million.

DOV: Don't worry we're goin to 500 but I won't forget.

BOB: 500. I didn't—

DOV:  700.

BOB: I didn't wanna use the B-­word.

DOV: We'll get there. We're going to the B. We’re going to the B.

LISA: A billion dollar company. That’s Dov’s goal.

We meet vendors in faceless buildings buzzing with machinery. And dusty offices piled high with fabric swatches. If I’d been driving around on my own, I probably would have looked right past these places. Even if I wanted to go inside, I don’t know that I could. It’s an industry that runs on relationships and trade secrets. Connections matter. These aren’t the kinds of places you can just walk into and start doing business.

Although, that’s exactly what Dov did in 1997, when he showed up in Los Angeles. He was a 20-something guy with a t-shirt company, an outsider. But he was persistent and loud. He made enough noise that people had no choice but to pay attention to what he was doing.

And visiting all these vendors, Dov is treading the same path he laid out when he started American Apparel.

We visit another label maker. The shop dim and cluttered. There are label-making machines and shelves stacked high with brown paper boxes. Dov starts running around, scoping the place out.

DOV: This is so cool. You have a lot of really cool equipment. Can I take a picture of some of it? It is so cool.

DOV: The place is run by a guy named Frank. He’s about 6’5, slow-moving, wearing a billowing black t-shirt. Frank towers over Dov, cautiously watching as Dov darts through the shop, snapping pictures. Finally, Frank cuts in.

FRANK: I know you, yes? 

DOV: Yes, we did business before, no?

FRANK: Long time ago.

DOV: Yeah, like 10 years ago. Oh, do you have a… can I see your labels?

FRANK: What is your name?

DOV: Dov!

FRANK: Oh! You forgot about me.

DOV: Yeah, yeah. Do you have any labels. Because I need help...

LISA: Dov runs circles around Frank, rummaging through boxes and sizing up different labels. Frank lumbers after him.

Frank knows Dov from way back, almost 20 years ago, when Dov was working out of a factory under the 10 freeway. At the time, American Apparel was just a growing wholesale business.

FRANK: You don’t remember me, no?

DOV: I totally remember you. I just… it’s just been such a long time.

FRANK: I did a lot of label for you. A lot. Do you know how many label I did for


DOV: I know like a million, zillions.

FRANK: Do you know you are start with me at the beginning?

DOV: Oh! I remember! I think it was… were you here?

FRANK: Yeah, you are start with me.

DOV: I don't even remember. I have amnesia.

FRANK: I know. 

DOV: Okay, this is what I needed. Okay, do you have, like an acetate…

LISA: As Dov snoops through boxes of labels, Frank peppers him with questions.

FRANK: You are the same place or different place?

DOV: No, no I got a new place.

FRANK:  You are by your own. You are not them anymore?

DOV: At American Apparel?

FRANK:  Uh-huh. No, you are not.

DOV: Finished. Nada.

FRANK: Who is your partner?

DOV: I don't have one.

FRANK: You're by yourself? Good.

DOV: Yeah, I'm alo—lonely. You're my partner let's do it.

LISA: Frank shows Dov the different labels they can make, and Dov hunches over a table to study them.

Dov compares the options: there are narrow labels, square ones. Labels made from a glossy, smooth fabric. Others are stiff and grainy.

DOV: This feels a little bit… I don’t know, it’s a little sharp, eh?

FRANK: No, it’s okay.

DOV: I think this would be better, what do you think?

FRANK: I think this one better, yeah. No shine better. No shine.

DOV: And look also, the cast of white on the narrow one might be better.

LISA: Before we leave, Frank says to Dov: promise me one thing.

FRANK: The only thing I want from you, when you grow, don't forget about me.

DOV: I'm gonna forgte—I’m gonna put you outta my mind. Once I'm big, I won't even look at you.

FRANK: Okay, like last time.

DOV: Hey, come here. Come on!

FRANK: Okay. Good to see you again.

LISA: Dov claps Frank on the back, as if to say, “It’s only a joke.” But if everything goes Dov’s way, he won’t need to remember Frank. He’s not going to be hustling around these shops asking people to make his labels. He’ll send other people to do that kind of work. 

Coming up, a visit to the center of the universe. At least according to Dov. That’s after the break.


LISA: Welcome back to Startup.

Driving around with Dov,  he’s constantly observing things I don't notice. Where most people just see a t-shirt or a hoodie, Dov sees cuts and washes and thread counts.

He spots details — the curve of an overpass, the paint color of a modest house. And sees how those elements combine to form an aesthetic. Case in point, this interaction: We’re driving on a neighborhood street when Dov sees a young guy on a bike, wearing a cream-colored sweatshirt.

DOV: That sweatshirt is on point. That is on point.

LISA: Dov slows the car and rolls down the window.

DOV: Good sweatshirt. Where'd you get it? I love how it drops. Yeah it looks great. I like the Palladiums too. And the pants. You’re doing per — and the bike looks great. You're like 100 percent!

[traffic noise]

DOV: He did look good. He did look good I should've asked him for his phone number so I could shoot him for a photoshoot or something he looked fantastic.

LISA: Describe him.

DOV: He was handsome, he had good taste. I liked his bike, I liked his sweatshirt. I feel like we should make a U-turn. I feel like we're driving away from something good.

LISA: Should we go chase him down?

DOV: We should. I think he already thinks we're a bit nuts, I almost had him though. I just was too shy.

LISA: Being along for the ride, seeing Dov work, it's exciting. Like hanging out with a celebrity. A t-shirt celebrity. You never know what’s gonna happen next. And everywhere we go, people want to talk to him. Like this group of guys who flag us down as we’re driving on a narrow street.

DOV: I know these guys. Hey!

LISA: The guys running this shop are young and eager. Dov used to be one of their customers. When Dov walks inside, the guys seem to stand a little taller, lining up side-by-side before a row of plastic mannequins.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: You see we that we have your mannequins?

DOV: Yeah, yeah.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: When are you coming back?

DOV: I'm starting my own thing right now.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: You're gonna do it. I know. I know you.

DOV: He knows. He saw me.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: I know him when he start on the stores, you know, maybe 12 years ago — or more than that — when he was starting on the business. He was there on the business already. He went too far,  but he knows what happened. But he was having a good crew of people.

DOV: I don't think we went too far and we didn't make any mistakes, just so you know, from me. They stole the company. They fucked us. They stole the business. That's it. They fired everybody.


DOV:  And then they crashed it. Those are the facts. We had our money. We were rolling, we were growing, we were having a good run. They distorted it in the media.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: I believe you. I believe you.

DOV:  That’s — I just want you to know, because I haven’t seen you — but that's why — I think you'll see and understand that more and more.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: You’re gonna work again.

DOV: I can rebuild it.

MANNEQUIN GUYS: You can make it.

LISA: Dov’s feelings of loss and betrayal, they’re fresh and raw. His version of what happened at American Apparel is quite different from the version the new owners of American Apparel tell.

In Dov’s version — which he brought forward in a lawsuit — he was fired illegally. It was a power grab, designed to ruin him. In their version, he was fired for cause. We’ll be getting to that later in the series.

The day is ending, we’re back in the car, and we stop at a red light. Dov points across the street to a vacant shop with dark windows — the former location of his very first American Apparel store in Los Angeles.

DOV: This is my first store. That right there. Look. Can't you see.

LISA: Yeah. For lease. The one with the “For Lease” sign.

DOV: Yeah the “For Lease” sign. This was my first store this is where… the first lease I ever signed was there. That one.

LISA: Where are we?

DOV: We're in the center of the world, don't you know? Do you have a problem? We're on Sunset and Alvarado. This is Ground Zero, man. Wake up! This is Sunset and Alvarado.

LISA: Sunset and Alvarado is a busy intersection. There’s an old Italian restaurant, a carwash, a burrito stand. Straight ahead of us, an American Apparel billboard with a woman in a red dress.

The light turns green.

LISA: Tell me what we just passed.

DOV: An American Apparel billboard.

LISA: Can you describe it for me?

DOV: What?

LISA: Like, what we just passed. The billboard we just passed.

DOV: It was an American Apparel billboard.

LISA: Uh-huh

DOV: With, uh — it was an American Apparel billboard.

LISA: Just describe it for me. What was —

DOV: Um… just a standard American Apparel billboard. I don’t want to 

get into it.

LISA: Okay, so Dov won’t get into it — but I’ll tell you about the billboard. It’s one of the billboards American Apparel designed after Dov got kicked out.  The model is standard issue pretty. Thin, makeup, clearly striking a pose. Not at all like the quintessential American Apparel billboards Dov pioneered. 

DOV: The billboards were my passion, and now they are what they are.

LISA: My producer Kaitlin asks a question from the back seat.

KAITLIN: What do you miss about making the billboards?

DOV: Why do we have to talk about the billboards? Why are we talking about the past? You gotta go forward. I don’t want to moanin’ and groanin’ about the billboards. I’ll be making billboards again.

LISA: Have you envisioned the kind of, the… I guess, the ads for your new company?

DOV: No. I play it as it goes. I never had a plan, as long as it’s authentic and feels you know, slaps me in the face when I look at the picture, you get, boom, you get half a second, you like it or you don’t. And then you show it to a few people that  you believe in. That’s it. It’s not like a contrived thing. I hate contrived fashion advertising. It’s… it’s so obvious.

LISA: What is contrived fashion advertising?

DOV: It’s like, uh, you have people looking away, when you can clearly tell that they’re posing. It’s the look away. Or they have the tilt head, when a girl goes like that. Or you have the dead look. That’s very big.

LISA: What’s the dead look?

DOV: When the girl looks dead and she’s lying in the grass, in a two-thousand dollar dress. And she’s thinking she’s 40, but she’s 14. That’s the dead look. I hate the dead look. I like when my model looks into the camera, takes control, like, bom! You know, there’s a contact between the photographer and the subject that’s authentic, true, and it connects, it connects the client to the experience. That’s my signature. I don’t know if we should be giving away all these trade secrets.

LISA: Dov doesn’t want to talk about the past. But when the past is all around you, it’s hard not to talk about it. There are the chance meetings at Fedex, the 5 or 6 billboards we pass. More than once, in the factories we visited, I saw Dov standing next to a tower of boxes from American Apparel.

There are constant reminders of what he lost — and also, what he’ll have to rebuild.

Dov has to figure out how he’s going to raise money, hire employees, attract customers, and produce a product that really captures people.

He started a clothing business once. He has the blueprint. But this time, he's got a past to overcome... a past that’s pretty complicated.

The question is: Can Dov Charney pull it off again?   


LISA: Next week, we visit the headquarters of Dov's new business, and talk to people who have left their jobs, homes, and loved ones to work for Dov.

TJ: It’s been definitely tough. Especially on family. My grandma, even though she's like, you know, in her 70s, she's still, like, really like up and going, and so she went onto Google and searched everything that had to do with Dov Charney and that was like the worst thing that could ever happen.

LISA: What it's like to live and work with Dov Charney — that's next time on StartUp.

Startup is hosted by me, Lisa Chow. Our show is produced by Bruce Wallace, Luke Malone, Molly Messick, Simone Polanen. Our Senior Producer is Kaitlin Roberts. We are edited by Alex Blumberg, Peter Clowney and Alexandra Johnes.

Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Special thanks to Marc Smerling, Zac Stuart-Pontier, Marianne McCune, Caitlin Kenney, Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Eric Mennel, and Rachel Strom.

Mark Phillips wrote and performed our theme song. The new version of the theme song by Cubs-fan Bobby Lord. Build Buildings wrote and performed our special ad music.

Original music by the band,, which includes The Reverend John DeLore, Jordan Scannella, Sam Merrick, Isamu McGregor, and Curtis Brewer. Music direction by Matthew Boll.

David Herman mixed the episode. 

To subscribe to the podcast, go to iTunes, or check out the Gimlet Media website: You can follow us on Twitter @podcaststartup.

Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.


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