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Breaking: Founder, CEO Julie Mathers to leave online retailer Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna (F&F) founder and CEO Julie Mathers has resigned from the eco-friendly online retail business she started in 2014 and sold to beauty and wellness business BWX less than a year ago. 

“I’ve decided to leave for a variety of reasons and have always found there’s no one reason but many. What I can say is that it’s not because I don’t love F&F,” Mathers told Inside Retail in an exclusive interview on Wednesday evening.

“F&F is a great business and platform for purpose, and I am so proud of what we and the team have created. Now is the right time for me to go do something different and keep driving change.”

Mathers gave her notice in November and expects to work through the end of February. Her husband, and F&F COO, Tom Abraham will depart the business at the same time. 

A model for purpose-driven leadership

Mathers started Flora & Fauna in 2014 to help people make better choices for the planet.

Stocking a range of vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly beauty, personal care, lifestyle, baby and kids, pet, food and health products, the online retailer quickly connected with consumers who shop with sustainability foremost in mind. 

Over the years, Flora & Fauna became known for its best-in-class e-commerce platform and customer-centric approach, with a handwritten note included in every order. In 2019, the online retailer launched a bricks-and-mortar store at its warehouse in Sydney.

Meanwhile, Mathers emerged as a model for purpose-driven business leadership, joining the B Corp movement in 2017. She ranked first in Inside Retail’s Top 50 People in E-Commerce in 2019 and 2021.

After bootstrapping Flora & Fauna for seven years, Mathers sold 100 per cent of the business to ASX-listed manufacturing and consumer goods company BWX for $27.9 million in May 2021. 

At the time, the retailer’s annual revenue was upwards of $15 million, and it had over 94,000 active customers.

Mathers initially stayed on as Flora & Fauna’s CEO after the acquisition, and in September 2021, she was tasked with leading BWX’s entire direct-to-consumer division. But just a few months later, she has decided to walk away. 

Speaking to Inside Retail, Mathers said it was important to leave Flora & Fauna “on a high note” and that the business is in “cracking shape”. 

She plans to take a month off, and then announce her next move in April. Inside Retail understands she will join an existing purpose-driven business in the online space.

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