Eileen Fisher's environmentally minded message will be part of her legacy once she steps down. (Credit: Matt Dunham/Flickr)
Eileen Fisher’s eco-minded message will be part of her legacy once she steps down. (Image: Matt Dunham/Flickr)

Ubiquitous fashion designer Eileen Fisher is stepping aside — eventually — and handing off the reins to her empire to a new CEO.

When she does step down, she will leave behind a powerful legacy cemented in her dedication to environmentalism — she was, after all, one of the few designers of her time who prized sustainability in her garments. And in 2006, instead of selling off her company or taking it public, she decided to transfer ownership to her employees.

But a new chief executive is preparing to step into the leadership role: Lisa Williams, who currently serves as chief product officer at Patagonia, another environmentally minded clothing company.

“I do have a vision for how this company should move forward, but I know I am not the person to execute it,” Fisher, 72, recently told the New York Times. “Not on my own, anyway.”

It will be a gradual transition as Fisher refines her vision and philosophy before fully letting go of her business. 

But the two women share an important belief as Williams takes the helm of the company, which raked in $241 million in sales last year.

“We both agree one of the most important ways we can be sustainable is to reduce,” Fisher said. “Just do less: Buy less, consume less, produce less. That’s a really hard line to walk when you’re trying to run a business, and you’re measuring your success by how much you sell. But I needed someone who was fully on board with that.”