A co-founder and the first chief executive officer of Proenza Schouler, Shirley Cook oversaw the label’s rapid ascension from school project to lucrative luxury brand with sales of over $50 million, a strong accessories division, and a total of five CFDA awards, including three for best womenswear designers. Under her leadership, the brand became the hottest ticket at New York Fashion Week.
In June 2015, Cook exited the 13-year-old brand as part of the deal made with Castanea Partners, a private equity firm that purchased a minority stake in the label. Ron Frasch , an operating partner at Castanea, has assumed the role on an interim basis.
Along with negotiating the terms of a 2007 investment by private equity firm Permira and subsequent investment by a group of 12 private investors, Cook has also oversaw the brand's international retail strategy. In 2012, the brand launched its first flagship store in New York. A revamped e-commerce presence was launched in May 2013.
Cook was originally introduced to designers and co-founders Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez through a mutual school friend. An alumnus of New York University, where she obtained a Bachelors of Arts in religious studies in 2001, Cook began helping the young designers with sales receipts and business questions whilst working as a PR assistant at Helmut Lang and was officially brought on board to oversee the label’s business operations after Barneys New York purchased the entirety of McCollough and Hernandez’s school thesis collection.