Credit: Adam Blasberg

Bennison is growing Saxx with a focus on six company themes

The Kickoff: “I never imagined myself running a company that is, effectively, focused on testicular comfort,” Wendy Bennison says with a laugh. But retail has always been a superpower of hers—past titles include COO of Mark’s, president of Roots Canada and president of Kit and Ace (that last one sparked her move from Toronto to the West Coast). What drew her to Vancouver-based Saxx in 2016 was the product: the patented BallPark Pouch that helped the brand establish itself as an underwear industry titan. “Our mission is to encourage men to treat themselves better by upgrading to a highly technical, patented design that really solves a comfort problem for them,” she explains. “We’re a self-care brand.”

Action Plan: For Bennison, sustainable growth was the goal. “Growth in and of itself creates opportunities—it creates jobs,” she asserts. To achieve this, Bennison designed core company values based on topics discussed during workshops with employees. Six themes emerged: no status quo, build to perform, do more with less, be resilient, support each other and have fun. Every decision thereafter was made with those core values in mind, and as the company expanded, the original principles remained.

Bennison’s management style champions leading with empathy and prioritizing diversity (first and foremost, she notes, because Saxx employees should be “an accurate and true reflection of the community the company operates in”). “We want to be able to build a culture that encourages and supports individual contributors,” she explains, “and I think that creates a broad spectrum of ideas—so as long as those views are heard and considered, I think you’re creating a really great place to work.”

The CEO says her proudest achievement was leading Saxx through a change in ownership two years ago. “That was an incredibly amazing accomplishment for our entire team, and definitely a pivotal moment for the business: attracting new investors that could support us through the next chapter of growth.”

Closing Statement: Since Bennison took charge, the company has achieved triple-digit growth. The business values its three main revenue streams (direct-to-consumer, marketplaces and wholesale) equally. A few other garments have been added to Saxx’s portfolio, but the main focus remains a single beloved product, which continues to rack up glowing reviews. (“Pouch is an absolute game changer,” “big upgrade from the standard off-the-rack” and “the best men’s underwear out there” are just a few recent Amazon raves.)

The executive team that Bennison built—mostly made up of women—continues to expand the biz transparently: they hold monthly company update meetings to share results. In addition to its e-commerce site, Saxx products are available at brick-and-mortar locations of Sport Chek, Mark’s, the Bay and Nordstrom in the U.S.

Q&A

What would your co-workers say is your greatest strength?

My commitment to leading calmly, methodically, empathetically and transparently.

Odd job you’ve had? 

My first job: working on a fruit farm harvesting fruit and selling at the roadside stand.