Exclusive: Jessica Simpson Opens Up About Buying Back Her Billion-Dollar Empire

Jessica Simpson and her mother, Tina, are about to pull off the ultimate mother-daughter power move as they plot the next chapter for their billion-dollar brand, which has defied the odds and become one of fashion’s longest-running success stories.

For the past several months, Jessica and Tina, who currently own 37.5% of the brand they founded in 2005, have been negotiating with Sequential Brands Group Inc. to buy the remainder of the business. (The Simpsons declined to comment on whether the deal had been completed. Sequential bought the majority share from Camuto Group in 2015 but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August and has been rapidly selling off its portfolio.)

“It means the absolute world to me to be able to take over complete ownership of my brand,” Jessica told FN last week. “After 16 years in business I feel ready to meet this next exciting phase with open arms. I know the sky is the limit when my mom, our incredible team and I lock into our customers completely.”

The watershed moment also brings a sense of pride to mom Tina, who said this has been the team’s main goal for some time. “For all of our hard-working, talented, amazing licensing partners, to know Jessica is at the helm gives them strength and belief in the future. And for Jessica to regain control of her namesake brand, it allows her and I, alongside our amazing team, licensing and retail partners to build the legacy brand to carry on to her children and family,” she explained.

Jessica Simpson, Tina Simpson
Jessica and Tina Simpson host HSN shows from their showroom.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Jessica Simpson

Currently, the Jessica Simpson women’s footwear line is licensed through Camuto Group as part of a long-term partnership, and will remain intact no matter who is the majority owner.

That’s good news for Camuto parent Designer Brands Inc. Following a challenging 18 months, which saw Camuto heavily impacted by the decline in dress shoe sales, Jessica Simpson has been a bright spot for the company amid the pandemic recovery. The label is also a key pillar of the Camuto Group’s revitalization plan, which saw a trimming of its brand roster to focus on three key brands within the portfolio: Vince Camuto, Lucky and Jessica Simpson.

In Q2, sales of Jessica Simpson were up 92% compared to 2020 and up 9% compared to 2019.

Camuto’s SVP of sales, Geralyn Lyman, credits its success to the strength of the product and the return of dressing up.

“Coming out of a pandemic, [Jessica Simpson] is offering the polar opposite — it’s not about slippers, it’s not about athleisure, it’s not about any of those comforts of home that everybody has been living with,” said Lyman. “It’s about showing off and being seen in high heels and great colors and lots of shine.” She noted that sales have been consistently strong with its sister retail partner DSW, as well as major department stores including Dillard’s and Macy’s.

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