Founder, Gymboree Corporation
Joan Barnes is a serial entrepreneur who built two consumer companies from the ground up. In 1973, armed with $3,000 and a hunch, Joan started a play center that allowed parents, mainly moms, to spend time with other moms and their toddlers with colorful age-appropriate toys. Ultimately, this is what became Gymboree, the global brand of a network of franchised play programs and company owned retail stores.
In 1993, Gymboree had one of the most successful IPOs in history, paving the way for other consumer brands. In 2010, Bain Capital took the company private for $1.8 billion dollars. Gymboree Group operated a chain of over 1200 specialty retail stores of children’s apparel, 800 bearing the Gymboree brand name, and over 725 franchised Play and Music Centers in almost 40 countries across the globe. Recently, the Company sold off the URLs to CPL, and its Janie and Jack chain to Gap, and liquidated most other stores from the retail group.
After the age of 50, Joan continued her visionary talent as she spearheaded mainstream YOGASTUDIO, a small Bay Area studio into “Lifestyle Yoga” selling “studio to street” apparel/accessories and featuring eco-conscious yoga vacations internationally. Late 2008, Yoga Works, now a publicly traded company, acquired her three studios,
Joan also founded the non-profit, Begin From Within, with programs dedicated to people with food, weight and body image issues operating in several Bay Area counties.
Currently, Joan speaks selectively. She has shared stages with Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Muriel Hemmingway, Guy Kawasaki and Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Steve Young, among others. Her sweet spot is speaking to aspiring women entrepreneurs, and to mentor and advise.
She authored a memoir in 2016 available on Amazon or through other booksellers, or www.joanbarnesspeaks.com.
A native of suburban Chicago, she received her B.A. in dance and English from Briarcliff College in New York. As a former dancer, she has had an active yoga practice for over 25 years, is an avid hiker and was once a competitive mountain biker. Joan lives in Mill Valley, California and has two adult daughters and three grandchildren.