That very thing occurred when Jay-Z said, in a song, that he was “off Timbs.” In response, Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz says: “Would we like to do business with the hip-hop consumer? Boy, young people with the energy of that movement, music and culture they’re a deeply important part of the fashion scene. We’re going to work humbly and hard to earn their trust.” But how will he pull that off?
Even now, it’s a quirky family-run business that continues to evolve: Bottled water is now banned. Each time Swartz lays someone off, he adds that person’s name to a list he keeps in his desk drawer. And the biggest ethical dilemma he faces on a daily basis? Dealing with the push-pull of making sure overseas employees aren’t forced into illegal working situations.