•The Business of Filling an Unmet Need With a Brand Designed for Women by Women•
Eco-friendly, fashionable sports apparel and the business of filling an unmet need with a brand that’s designed for women by women.
Vivacity means full of life, and that describes Vivian’s journey, her thirst for learning and a tremendous drive to make a difference. She is living the American dream as the child of immigrants she took her deep knowledge in finance, health services and business development and founded Vivacity Sportswear. Her company’s philosophy is “leave this world better than you found it.”
Do you like fashion, who doesn’t? Listen in as we discuss how Vivian started her own fashion line. She shares her experiences in building a business and the trials and tribulations of bringing together and leading a strong team of experts in design, product development, marketing and manufacturing that helped her succeed.
Vivian Sayward, Founder & CEO Vivacity Sportswear
Lessons you will learn from this podcast:
- Following the marketing trend of education and company responsibility.
- How to design comfortable, functional, fashionable sportswear for women’s sizes and shapes so they don’t feel like they’re dressed like a small man.
- How listening in times of conflict and asking questions can help you find common ground.
- Why 2020 is a transitional year for sustainably, product sourcing and building a biodegradable manufacturing process that’s more circular.
- The not so sexy financial and business side of the business of the design and manufacturing process.
- Working through the many challenges of building a business with partners.
- How thoughtful brands, and fabrics made from “pencil” wood pulp help offset “fast fashion” and the textile waste problem in the fashion industry.
- Why walking the talk is good for business and good for the community?
- What market research, being open to feedback, testing fabrics, playing with new silhouettes and listening to your target audience can add to the design process.
- Bringing together your enemies, the history of communication at its finest.
>> Hi everybody, it’s Kathy. Welcome to the Show Runner Marketing Podcast. Today we’re talking with Vivian Sayward. She’s the founder and CEO of Vivacity Sportswear. Vivian founded Vivacity Sportswear as a response to unmet needs in the marketplace. Relying on her deep knowledge and experience in business development, marketing, finance, and startups, she built an apparel business with virtually no prior experience in sportswear. It’s her ability to bring together and lead a strong team of experts in design, product development, and manufacturers that helped her succeed. Vivian has an extensive background in business and as a creative and forward thinking executive. She’s developed and executed programs across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, healthcare, and of course, fashion and beauty. Today, Vivian is not only passionate about delivering a stylish functional apparel line, but also a brand that is conscious about sustainability, and supply chain transparency, and addressing the textile waste challenge in the fashion industry. So Vivian, thank you so much for being on the show today.
>> Thank you so much, I’m really thrilled to be here.
>> Well, we’re excited to hear, you’ve got such a rich history in business and your background. And I wanna hear how you put it all together with fashion. I know that you’re currently running an eco-friendly fashion brand. But before that, you were a financial analyst, a strategist for the medical field, and involved in helping startups establish companies in healthcare, fashion, and beauty. So tell us a bit more about your professional journey, and how it led you to where you are today.
>> I know, it sounds so scattered, doesn’t it?
>> Every step along the way was learning, and which is what I love to do. I love to learn. I love talking to different people about what they do. Cuz I learned early on in my career that people love to talk. If they love something, they love to talk about what they do.
>> And that you learn, and you help each other out from that standpoint. So I was always interested in business. I started off on the business side of things out of college. And while I was working, first I worked in high tech and then switched over to healthcare. I completed my MBA at UC Irvine, and then just got involved with different companies. I worked at large fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, more startup kind of environment. And I realized that I really enjoyed learning, believe it or not, [LAUGH] as they say, jumping into the fire, and just grabbing and learning, and understanding what happens. And that’s how I thrive in those kind of environments. I mean nothing crazy, but at the same time, something where you’re always learning, where you’re being creative, where you’re trying to help. You’re working with teams, you’re working with different people and trying to make something. You have a common goal and you’re trying to make it happen. So that’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I enjoy building things, and I enjoy the interaction with others on doing that. So after being in a corporate career for a long time, first high tech and then health care, I worked at smaller pharmaceutical companies as well as biotech in different roles, in marketing, business development, strategic planning. Had a great career from that. I realized that I really wanted to build something on my own, but I didn’t know what. I had this great background. I was so lucky in my corporate career having some amazing mentors, who by the way, were all men. Which is rather interesting [LAUGH].
>> Yes. [LAUGH]
>> From this standpoint. And, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I started consulting, still in the biotech pharma area, cuz that was my comfort zone. And one day I started playing golf. My husband’s an avid golfer, and I am a swimmer and a runner by means of a long time. And so he wasn’t going to meet me in the ocean out there, so I decided to meet him on the golf course.
>> So I’m playing golf, and I just cannot find anything to wear. And what I meant with that is, that having something comfortable, that fit well, that worked well, that had technical, good fabrics that dealt with everyday wear, and not looking like I was in a uniform or dressed like a small man. Cuz I’m not a small man, [LAUGH] these polo shirts that were cut short and considered women’s tops. So finally, I guess I complained enough that, one day, my husband turned to me and said, well, then do something about it.
>> And so, I like challenges. [LAUGH] And so I started investigating. And I slowly learned a bit. And I was still consulting and I worked with someone, a local designer here in San Diego who had worked in the triathlon area. And she taught me a few things. I worked with her for a bit. And I thought, well, maybe I would partner with her to build this golf line for women. And I soon learned over the course of the time I spent with her, was that her vision and my vision were very different. And she wasn’t comfortable on that golf side. She was definitely, again, different, which was fine. So I had to, kind of an early first divorce.
>> And that, unfortunately, affected the friendship. And that’s one thing. That was one of my first big lessons in building a business, partners, how difficult they can be, [LAUGH] at times.
>> So I kinda kept on searching. And I realized I did wanna do something in this area. And around the same time, a friend of mine had started a co-working space here in San Diego called Hera Hub, Felena Hanson. And I joined, through that connection, I actually found who is still our creative director, and quite a few other folks who helped me start along this path and build the line. So it’s been nine years now, and we’ve built it. It’s been quite a transition, from it starting from the golf side into more of a lifestyle brand, inclusive, with different sizing for misses and plus size. And we’re now selling a lot more to resorts and cruise ships. We’ve found this nice niche market that seems to like what we’re doing. Cuz we’re building from the beginning. We’re building high quality product that’s durable, that lasts, that travels well and works with your wardrobe.
>> Wow, so everything from Fortune 500s to startups, you’ve had such an interesting background. I mean, you call it scattered. I call it really interesting.
>> And you really have a thirst for learning and you like challenges. And you just decided to do something on your own after all that time. You thought, hey, why don’t I put all this knowledge to work, creating something that I see a need for?
>> And so it’s just so interesting how you used your business background to do that. Is there anything else in your business background that you feel helped you succeed in the fashion business? And you talked about the one lesson with the partner.
>> How does some of the things that you did before translate across industries? [BLANK_AUDIO] I do tend to be a bit analytical. So, [LAUGH] but one of the things I learned early on, and quite honestly, thanks to my background in finance and accounting, early on in my career. Was learning about financials, that I do know how to create financials, that I do know product costing. I know how much it costs to make my product. I knew what kind of profit margins I needed, and so forth. And that’s just crucial. Today, and I’ll get into this in a little bit, I’ve been working with other startups and new brands and so forth, helping them along with that. Helping them avoid some of the pitfalls I took [LAUGH]. And one of the things, it’s astounding to me how so many people don’t necessarily understand how much it costs to make that product and what that means. And that’s just, it’s basic. It’s stuff that is not sexy, [LAUGH] who wants to be sitting there on a spreadsheet and creating all these different formulas or whatnot? But nevertheless, at least having a good understanding of that I think is crucial.
>> Yeah, it really sounds like that business acumen and the analytical part of that. It’s really helping you in the business of running a business.
>> And it’s so important to know that. And nobody really wants to spend a lot of time on spreadsheets. Myself, personally, what I do, I have what I call Accounting Friday [LAUGH].
>> Yeah, yeah
>> I devote Friday from 8: 30 to 12 to speak with my accountant and my bookkeeper, and to look at the numbers. And it helps to have a business background when you’re starting a business or running a business. Because there’s a lot of things that you need to know, that people don’t know.
>> And Kathy, that’s really smart about you scheduling that, and making that part of the routine. That’s so important.
>> And again, we all are guilty of this at times, we want to avoid things that we don’t like, correct?
>> Exactly [LAUGH].
>> And if you put it on your calendar, and I tell you, David calls me at 8: 30, every single Friday morning. [LAUGH] Never misses it.
>> Exactly. Wonderful.
>> So, that what we do. [LAUGH]
>> You told us a little bit about that unmet day in the fashion industry, and how you were dressing that with your brands. And can you talk a little bit more to that point?
>> It started off on the golf side, as I mentioned. And I’ll get into a little bit more why I’ve been expanding, shall we say. Cuz I couldn’t find anything where, and I tested this concept. So, once I felt comfortable with the styles, I had just a few styles, nothing, just a few basics, tops, a bottom, jacket, kind of thing. I learned that early, and test that proof of concept. So, I tested it locally. I live in San Diego. There’s all these beautiful golf courses around here. I also love to talk to people, so I have a tendency to be a decent networker. And [LAUGH] so, through that I was able to talk to some of the buyers at the local golf courses, at the pro shops. So, the way I got in was essentially telling them, listen, you can do a trunk show, we can show you. And let’s have your audience, your customer base, tell us what works, what doesn’t work, is this something they need? And then, that’s what we did for a while. We did some testing of that for almost a year, to be honest. And we took our time and until we came up with something that we thought worked. And we were getting great feedback. We definitely were using interesting fabrics, we were using much more comfortable, flattering silhouettes than were out there. [LAUGH]
>> And I think that worked. And we listened, pockets are important, lengthened tops, things like that. That perhaps, not everyone’s thinking about. So, that’s how we started from that standpoint. And when you’re open to feedback from people, you do see common themes and also things come to you. So, we did a photo shoot at a local golf course. And there was another event going on there at the same time. And there was a woman there, she was waiting for some of the golfers to come in and so forth, and saw the models walking through and so forth. And she was a woman who was a little more on the larger side. And she was wearing and she said, look at this, can you make something for me? I’m wearing a man’s shirt. I am not a man. [LAUGH] This shirt fits me like a box. It’s not flattering. Could you do something for us out there? And I thought about that a lot. And that was something, and she was the first one who really just asked. So, that’s what we started to get into how do we do more, I call it plus size and curvy. But just this need of a marketplace where, very average, but an average American woman, according to the CDC, that can be disputed, is about 5’3″, 5’4″, and 160 pounds. And a size 16, 14-16. And what do we see mostly out there?
>> 6’4″s, yes.
>> Exactly, no addressing. And it’s still that way, even though, thankfully, there’s been a resurgence of people saying, hey, we are active. We are fit, but we’re larger. [LAUGH] We’re not this size. This is not what we are. So, that’s what we started from there.
>> Well, I think it makes so much sense that now, I think, the fashion Industry is open to people like you, who are designing with the every woman in mind. And it’s not, let’s design with the perfect female body in mind and then let’s strickle that down to everybody else. This is, let’s design with the every woman in mind and fill that unmet need that you’re talking about. That was a great story about the woman, she is wearing a man’s shirt to fit in. And it makes all the sense in the world and I’m so excited, I told you a little story about myself. I actually started as a fashion merchandising major in college. And so, I’m always keeping one eye on fashion and what’s going on. And I’m just so grateful that the fashion industry is now addressing real bodies and real people, and starting with that in mind. And that’s why I was drawn to what you’re doing, because I think it’s great. I think what you’re doing is great. And thank you for telling us about how you test and you prove a concept. And you took your time with this, too. Some people are so in a hurry to get to the end that they don’t spend the time to listen like you did. And so, those are great lessons that you’re sharing with us today. So, thank you.
>> Oh, thank you. It’s still hard [LAUGH], trust me, you still make mistakes along the way, but at least you have if you have some of that market research truly.
>> It’s important, very important.
>> Right. Let’s talk a little bit about marketing. What are some of the most critical marketing challenges you and your sportswear team are focusing on for 2020?
>> 2020 is a transitional year for us. We are in the process, as we have been evolving, continuing to evolve. First with the sizing and the approach and now in the different marketplaces. We’re also taking a hard look as how we are, [BLANK_AUDIO]
>> Sustainably, efficiently with less waste developing our product. So that’s one aspect of things. So how to convey that message and actually educate our public. Some people, again, now we have we’re working with fabrics made out of plastic bottles, for example, which is amazing.
>> Oh, wow.
>> We have fabric made out of, it’s branded tensile by another company that is made out of wood pulp and these fabrics work amazingly well. But how do we continue to make that even more so? How do we create an ecosystem of manufacturing that it becomes more and more closed loop not just developing, working with these great fabrics, but we still have the issue of once that piece, that shirt, that jacket whatever is done and it may be donated to goodwill and so forth. But eventually it ends up back in the landfill and it is fairly all biodegradable. So what do we need to do about that? What can we do? So there’s some steps short term that we’re learning about, that we’re participating in conversations we’re having with different folks. And really getting more involved in that aspect of how can we help make this manufacturing process much more circular and there’s things that are coming up that are really, really exciting and that’s something that we really are focused on standpoint.
>> I think is a real trend in marketing right now, too. People wanna know about what companies are doing with recycling and sustainability, and what kind of a footprint are they leaving. And frankly, the fashion industry. It doesn’t have a great history of being clean. And so I think that right now, it’s a perfect timing for someone like you too with that message. What kind of feedback are you getting on those kinds of messages?
>> It depends on the audience and I think it truly depends on the audience. Again, I think it’s more of an education. And perhaps because we’re so I don’t know, geographically here in Southern California or maybe we’re a little more aware, we’re right wrapped by scripts and so forth. So the message is sort of yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, okay? Yes, we get it. But some other folks, I was on doing a trunk show no less on one of the cruise ships that a year and a half ago or so and we were going through. And this was on one of these worldwide cruise ships that was heading up from Vancouver up through Alaska. And again, the cruise ship saying, I’m not gonna name names. The cruise ship was saying, yes, we’re trying to be green. We’re going through these fjords right now, please be careful when you’re on deck as far as not letting paper go out. Those kinds of things. [LAUGH] But it wasn’t all, again and being always very respectful as an older audience who may not be as some folks were not as aware. Yeah, sure.
>> And again, we had pieces there and I was talking to some of the customers. I was talking to the retail crew as well where I was working with them was really great on some of the things that we’re doing and why, and just having these conversations these one off conversations with folks. They not understanding really. There’s that much plastic in the ocean. Really, we’re actually consuming their, again, some their plastic all the way in the Mariana. I can’t think of the word right now, which is below was one of the deepest parts of the ocean. They have found plastic in the sea life that is there.
>> So again, this is why. This is why we’re doing this. This is why. So having those one-on-one conversations, you can’t have it with everyone, but maybe capturing that. Taking that back to a larger audience through your social media channels or discussions like what we’re having right now, I think is important.
>> Yes, so education is a big part of your brand and also finding the right demographic and the right target who is open to those kinds of discussions to and to whom that means something.
>> And so I think that’s really interesting and it kind of will take me into the next question that I have, and I am curious to know how the internet, and social media has affected your ability to reach a market to your audience. Is that helping you with this specific message that you have?
>> It is to certain degree, because they’re starting to to target a lot more of our messaging through towards that and trying to understand what outlets within the social media world is more. Again, you have markets that are going to be or outlets that are gonna be more conducive to that type of conversation. But at the same time, kind of understanding other marketplaces that we can at least provide per step.
>> This is what we’re trying to do. This is what’s happening and this is why. So yeah, I think it’s very important obviously, but it’s really continuing to understand and continuing be involved. It’s a lot of work is you know.
>> Changing and it’s a change in dialogue, and you wanna make sure you’re in the right market. Right outlets that are providing the right information, too.
>> Right and I’m sure that you don’t always lead with this sustainability. It’s very interesting and I’m sure that you’re finding your market online, and that is the unment need that you’re talking about. Hey, here’s something that you might not have seen and you don’t see this in your pro shop right now.
>> But imagine if you could have something that was designed for you.
>> Right and we are actually collaborating with a piece when you say that we’re collaborating with a few folks right now. This year as part of our, we are working on a couple of projects with different collaborations with smaller retailers and groups and so forth to do that just that providing these kinds of and we’re actually the whole programming is under fabrics that we we have may be some inventory left on and so forth. But kind of rebranding that into Hey, we can build this. The silhouette that works. That’s been very popular and recreating some customization for you, and we’re doing that kind of programming and through that educating about. But we’re using fact, again, in a very nice way. [LAUGH] Continuing previews and make sure that we’re not wasting.
>> In a very very soft one narrow approach.
>> So let’s talk a little bit about the future of the fashion industry and I know that there’s a lot of talk about this sustainable culture and things. How are you actually interpreting that in your business? Is there anything that you’re planning on doing in the future to address this?
>> It’s been rather interesting over the past year and a half. Last year was probably the first year we really took a hard approach on this or more of a focused approach, I should say. We’ve had brands coming to us asking for either and they could be within apparel or outside of apparel. We started working, for example, with the internationally known dance exercise guru and we built a collection for her and her team and we really focused on this whole sustainable approach. Cuz her focus was women of all ages, sizes and so forth who wanted to dance or for exercise for just the whole general good feeling. [BLANK_AUDIO] And she was very adamant, cuz she has been very adamant about that. So we built this line for her focused on that, focused on the sizing, focused on all. And I realized that there was definitely this need. And we did it very quickly, too. [LAUGH] We actually did everything sustainably, we were locally sourced, which is really, which was great. And through that, we got more connections from that standpoint of different folks looking for that kind of thing. And I’ve learned a few things from that. I’ve learned that there are a lot of people out there who could use that kind of help. And also a lot of people still. And I’m talking people of all ages as well, not necessarily getting the sustainability message, or understanding it.
>> So that’s how we’ve kine of like slowly been creating this new avenue, which we’re calling Vivacity Advantage.
>> Vivacity Advantage.
>> Wow, so you’re actually helping these people, sort of helping them interpret the sustainability, and how they can apply that to what they’re doing and give that to their audience.
>> Absolutely, absolutely, and this everything from like sourcing raw materials, sourcing textiles, eco-friendly textiles, to building out a collection, so to speak. Which is doing everything correctly, so that everything from their designs are purposeful, are easy to interpret from a manufacturing standpoint. And that everything down to cutting waste and so forth. There’s always waste when you’re cutting fabric, minimizing that as best as possible. And hopefully eventually getting that recycled somewhere. Those are future steps from that standpoint. But nevertheless, we’re heading towards that thing. And then also knowing who’s making your product.
>> Understanding that.
>> Yes, yes. And I know in following you on LinkedIn, I know that a lot of times you visit the source.
>> Right, set Google.
>> Absolutely, I’ve never worked with someone that I don’t know. I always work with a contractor, be it here in the States. I’m still working with some folks in the States, working in Mexico. And even some of the sourcing of raw materials. I was in Uruguay last year, in August as part of the US State Department Program, that we were working on an eco-friendly sourcing for merino wool. And got to understand what that was all about. And that was a fascinating trip. That was really wonderful from that standpoint.
>> Oh my goodness, that sounds like a whole other podcast. [LAUGH]
>> There’s so much more I want to know about this. [LAUGH] I do, I do. Well, does the brand that you were talking about with Vivacity Advantage, does that have a name that you want to do a shout out? Is that ready to be released?
>> Yeah, we’re doing a soft launch in Q1, so stay tuned. Yes, it’s Vivacity Advantage, vivacityadvantage.com. And we’re tying that through with that, just all the learnings we’ve had with Vivacity Sportswear. We’re focused that into services that help people out there who definitely, and this is everybody from, not that we can provide answers to everyone. But everyone looking for a focused, sustainable approach to sourcing good product, be it raw materials or finished goods, to making their own product.
>> Mm-hm, wow, just right on cue, right. That’s perfect, right on target for what’s going on right now.
>> Yeah, hopefully. [LAUGH] And we’re hoping this trend still continues. I really believe that strongly.
>> Yeah, I think so. And let’s talk a little bit about brands.
>> Are there some brands that you are following and that can serve as maybe a marketing lesson for us?
>> Oh, gosh. Yeah, of course, I’ve been in the, quote unquote, sportswear athleisure side of things. So from the beginning I’m an avid follower. [LAUGH] I’m a news junkie when it comes to that.
>> Everything from Lululemon to, some lessons from Lululemon. The ones that I saw close up, too, because I happen to use some of the same or early on, used the same textile manufacturers that they use for their products. Learning how not to address an audience. I think they’re doing much better now. There was some fallback with the founder and former CEO, Chip Wilson, I believe his name, yes. Who had done some interviews that were not very nice toward women. Who had complained, or there had been some folks who had been complaining about the sizing of their product. And he said well, then maybe you need to lose weight.
>> Yeah, so again, I’m paraphrasing, but it was not thoughtful. [LAUGH] This is his bread and butter and again, that’s just not what you do.
>> A high priced product as it is, and that kind of thing. So learning about that, again, they use different, it’s climate now. Different personnel, and they’re definitely going into more on the men’s side and they’re doing a great job with that. So I have to say that.
>> I follow Eileen Fisher. You know how she started, she’s been around that she’s been one of the four women in business, forefront on sustainability. And I’ve been able to have been lucky enough to talk to some of her folks, one of her folks who heads up sustainability and a few others in the past, at conferences and so forth. And really understanding the culture there and how they’re doing it. Obviously it’s a female business, focused business. Their audience is female, they have a certain age, demographic. And they’ve done a lovely job with how they’re providing that. And they do things their own way. They have silhouettes that they have kept for years because they know that that’s what their customer likes. And they’re not up there changing trends every three months or every six months. So they’re very thoughtful in that approach. And that’s a very sustainable approach, too, by the way. So it’s very interesting there. Of course, Patagonia. I’ve read the founder’s, Yvon Chouinard’s book, Let My People Go Surfing. And again, from the very start how he has been focused on giving back to environmental or environmental causes. And in fact, they have a separate program. And Eileen Fisher has done this, too, not just them, Patagonia, a few others have done this. Where they have an investment fund called Tin Group Investments, I believe. And they are looking for companies that may be two years out or so forth, that are already starting to generate some revenue and helping them go to the next step on the sustainability front. So all those I think are tremendous, because they are
>> Speaking, they’re walking the talk. And they’re doing a lot to help not just their business, but also the community at large. And that’s something that’s very important to me, too.
>> Yeah and that’s an interesting example that you used with Eileen Fisher, and the sustainability factor there is not always changing. So I don’t have to throw out my pants if it goes to high rise to low rise, to medium to low.
>> Keeping the same silhouette in the same type of style is a nod to sustainability, as well. That’s very interesting.
>> Yeah, yeah, cuz you see again. I mean, the process of well over the past 15, 20 years, the fast fashion. What fast fashion has done, bringing silhouettes or styling to the market in such a quick pace. Zara is a prime example. They have their own company, I mean, they’re a vertically integrated company. They own and, or work very closely with all their many contractors. And they can literally come up from a design to having something out in the market within I want to say weeks. Which is crazy and that’s great. But at the same time, they make a lot of it. And what happens with that excess inventory?
>> Right, well, we’re learning so much about the fashion industry.
>> And the sustainability and where it’s going in the future. And I’m wondering, we talked a little bit about brands and some great brand examples. How about if you describe for us your personal brand and your leadership philosophy?
>> Oh, good question. [LAUGH]
>> Vivacity kind of ties it in. The title, the name, full of life. Obviously, Vivian is my name and that’s Latin for full of life.
>> Viatality and vision, and so forth. And I do believe that, I feel like I’m very lucky. I feel so blessed and so lucky of the life I’ve had, the opportunities I’ve had. Grateful for my parents who immigrated from South America and are still doing, they’re amazing. They’re in their eighties and they’re still active, and whatnot. My dad still bike rides 200 miles a week. He’s, it’s just amazing, but that direct. Yeah, yeah, it’s crazy.
>> The drive and just that continuous push to just to give back to enjoy, and be part of this community. And make life better for others. I read somewhere else about leaving this world better than how you found it. And I think that’s my ultimate mission in that standpoint.
>> What a wonderful philosophy. And it’s exactly why I liked to interview business owners like yourself is, I think it’s so important for people to hear about examples like that. To hear about how people like you are leading their company from that point of view, giving back. Sustainability in making the world a better place. Providing options for people that don’t have options. And I think that that story is coming through in our interview, and I’m just so happy that people can hear about that. Because if more people did that, I think it would have be a better world.
>> I think so, I hope so. [LAUGH]
>> That’s the goal here. Yeah, that’s the goal.
>> Great philosophy. Thank you for sharing that with us. I’m wondering with all this learning that you’ve done, you’ve been in so many different industries. And I’m wondering if there’s a personal learning experience, or a time or a situation in your career where you faced a professional obstacle, and share with us maybe how you overcame that..
>> Oh, gosh, how many. [LAUGH]
>> Cheers to that.
>> Shall I say a corporate experience or just business? I have one of each.
>> Yes, whatever you like, whatever you think is.
>> I think from a corp, and again, this is all based on people. People skills and learning and communicating. Communication, let’s say, corporate career where I was in a situation working for someone. And this just in general, the politics to say that, in certain corporate standings. There were some things going on and some people not getting along, and whatever it may be, or misinterpreting things. And what I ended up and somehow I got cuz of the department I was in we were being blamed for things, whatever it was.
>> That kind of set about talking, setting up meetings with people individually. And taking time out of my busy day and reaching out to them at their convenient time, and sitting down and listening to them. And that’s all it was. It was just listening and realizing that everyone had the same issue. So how do we resolve it? And that’s kind of the way I worked it through. And made sure that everyone was on the same page for this project we were working on. So that was taking that extra time, but it made it so much easier after that. That was one lesson I learned and I continue to use that. The other lesson I learned was when I started this business, I do not have a background in fashion or design. Or, if I sew a straight line, I’m really lucky. [LAUGH]. Or draw straight line for that matter. So I was introduced to a lot of folks who said they were experts and I worked with them for a little bit, a couple of folks. But deep down, I realized that I was questioning what they were saying or they were maybe not completely honest. And I had questioned my own intuition and it was causing problems. And after, I unfortunately had to fire them at separate occasions. And they were part of the face of the brand. I had to go back and reestablish relationships. Be it with certain vendors or certain retailers, or so forth. And build all that back up. And so that was an expensive lesson to learn from that standpoint.
>> Because this was not working right, and that’s fine. You’re not gonna be able to. You’re not gonna get along with everyone and that’s fine, that’s understandable. You can’t be friends with everyone. But if there’s something that’s not right, that doesn’t feel right, that you’re not on the same page and especially the face. It’s part of your brand. It’s very hard to, it takes a longer time to recoup that and to reestablish that better relationships, as opposed to having a good reputation to begin with.
>> So understanding that and learning that, that was a good lesson.
>> Yeah, so maybe just take us a little bit deeper into that.
>> So you’re listening to your instinct and you’re hiring these experts which are a front facing of your brand, and you’re feeling like something isn’t good. So you’re choosing, you’re the boss. You’re saying okay, this isn’t right, I’m gonna move on. And then circling back around, you’re repairing these relationships. Is that aside from the business. So the business part we had to end that, but I need to come back around and. [BLANK_AUDIO] And repair this other relationship.
>> This was part of the whole business. So for example, one of the experts was helping with some of the heat sourcing.
>> The who?
>> And understanding after the fact after this person left, that the vendors were offended, like say this person was treating them.
>> And not necessarily knowing what thing he needed to do, [INAUDIBLE] –
>> The expertise was not all there.
>> Okay, so you had to go back and repair the relationships that were left behind.
>> Got you.
>> And inadvertently, I learned about this because once I sat I called and started talking to them all or talking to a few, whoever it may have been, I understood right away there was like, and again, I would hear from this expert, oh, they’re so difficult, there’s this, there’s this. It’s just hard to get an answers and once I reached out to them and talk to them and with respectful, of course. And handled, hopefully handled them professional manner. I’ve never had issues with them since.
>> We have and had issues with them since at all. In fact, they’ve been extremely supportive of our business.
>> Mm-hm. That is a lesson well learned. Thanks for sharing that one. And it’s the instinct to I really, I think that you can you have a good feel and a good instinct for, for what’s right and what’s not right and acting upon that. And then coming out on the other side of that and saying, Yeah, that was I’m glad I did that. Absolutely, absolutely.
>> Absolutely. I have to say, this entrepreneurial journey I’ve had has been one of the most, I don’t know, hardest, but also gratifying experiences I’ve had in my professional career. Really I have to say that
>> what makes this the most gratifying What about this is different?
>> Well, it’s, you know, from an ego standpoint, you’re building something, you know, I hate to say you know, from that standpoint, that’s that’s really amazing the amount the people I’ve met That I’ve worked with from all different facets, everyone from my fabric vendors to my contractors. I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of men from on the contractor side of the family run businesses. And they’ve done amazing, do beautiful work and it’s here locally in the States or even across the border and they’re amazing. Mm hm
>> And just the level of professionalism. Yes, maybe they don’t all use email sometimes. Still, degree but I mean just the way they work the way their, their approach their practices and everything is really truly amazing.
>> Just fulfilling, it sounds like it’s very fulfilling
>> Yeah, yeah, absolutely What about mentoring has? What is mentoring meant to you? Are there any lessons that you learned through mentoring that you’ve applied? You spoke a little bit at the top of the episode that you had some wonderful male mentors.
>> Yeah, yeah. Well, interestingly enough, I have two sides of that because I do believe in mentoring and I’m involved with my, one of my alma mater. In their entrepreneurs centers.
>> Mm hm
>> I went to Smith College in Western Massachusetts and they now have an entrepreneurial center and I have been participating as a mentor in one of their competitions. So I continue to do that and work closely with that. Also, just through For chance right now I’m starting to work with a little bit seeing a group at UCSD that have come up with an interesting technology for fabrics.
>> In waiting, and I can’t even remember, I don’t even remember how I was introduced to them. But they’re just this lovely group of women, young women who are so excited about what they’re doing. One’s a chemist, the other, [LAUGH], is a marketing person, and I’m just so thrilled for them. So I’m meeting with them talking to them based on, they’ve, they’ve already applied there. They’re still in school and they’re applying to all these different grants and whatnot. So anything I could do to help them I love their energy and love what they’re helping do so that kind of you know, I Been able to give back there. The Jacob center as well, which is close by helping with some mentoring there with some of the up and coming students that have just started or visit small businesses that are just starting their launch program, their incubation program, that’s been great. But I think I feel like part of what’s helped me to your point about mentoring, one of my mentors and I’m still very good friends with him and when I started working for him because I switched over from finance to business development, he kind of sat me down and said, listen, I can help you with as far as my perspective on How I ever approached my career and so forth, but I have no idea what it’s like to be a woman in the corporate world. So let me introduce you to some women that I think are fantastic. And these were women from all over the country and this gentleman, amazing networkers, [LAUGH] Amazing networker. He had me set a call with these women from all over the country who he had worked with in the past, his past 30 years of experience at that point in time. And they were tremendous and they were very giving of their time and I felt like I need to do that I need to make sure that I do that as well. And to help others along the way. Well, you’ve been a fabulous mentor to our listeners today.
>> [LAUGH] Thank you for sharing all these wonderful lessons. And I really feel that you know part of this podcast and why I wanted to do it is because people can learn so much from people like you. But How do we do that? You can’t sit down and give everybody 45 minutes to an hour like you’re giving us today. But imagine, so many more people can hear your wisdom and learn from you and see a great example. So thank you again for helping to mentor us today. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
>> I’m really excited. Really excited to continue following you.
>> Yeah and so maybe just some words for anything in particular that women can do to excel, reach their goals and marketing and business today. Do you have a little tidbit for us Gosh, you know, I say some of the best example, you know, again, I think I mentioned it earlier, keeping up with what’s going on. If you have a certain area, maybe you’re just starting to explore it or look at maybe a new area or continuing to explore where you’re at reaching out Reaching out to you I’m in reading about it they may be making some connections there in reaching out to people, and seeing her at the following you this is not. Would you mind a 10-minute call? Is something that affected making that connection and really understanding learning more about that stuff, and you guys weren’t for the most part you know when everyone’s busy you don’t want it Be you know, a piece of a timer. So you want to be respectful, but people love to talk about what they do, obviously. [LAUGH] Appreciate that and never know there could be some sort of connection from that standpoint. That’s to be made for now. I think that’s really important.
>> You just never know if you start a conversation like the one we’re having what you’re going to learn it’s fantastic. Is there anything maybe in your career, that knowing what you know now that you wouldn’t maybe have gotten into or would have done differently? Yeah, having a partner. I am very again, it’s got to be very clear, or, you know making sure you’re clear about your vision and your goals if you do get into a partnership of sorts
>> Making sure you’re all on the same page from the beginning.
>> Yeah, yeah, that’s it, I think that’s probably one of those things that you just have to go through to learn that lesson too, right?
>> Yes, yes, do you have a daily habit or two that contributes to your success that you would share with us today?
>> I believe in I have to sweat once a day.
>> [LAUGH] I do, this is my personality. Again, like I mentioned, I have an 80-year old dad who rides his bike almost every day.
>> Yeah, 200 miles.
>> Running in my family somehow, but-
>> Oh my gosh.
>> That’s my personality. So I have to do something whether it go to the gym or I go running. I still run somewhat. In the summer, I swim. I’m an open water swimmer.
>> Oh my goodness.
>> So you can find me out in La Jolla.
>> [LAUGH] Oh.
>> So I have to do something like that where I’m outside, where I’m away from electronics, phones, whatnot. One of the reasons why, I mean, I run or swim and I’m not talking about for hours or hours, but at least for a little bit of time where I can just let my mind run free. And I think that’s really important, really important to get away from everything and you’re not tied down to a phone, to this, to that. I think that’s really, really, really important.
>> Yeah, you’re not one of those crazy people out there at La Jolla Cove that’s swimming out there in the water, are you?
>> I am.
>> I look at those people and think, oh, my goodness, how could they do that?
>> But I have to tell you that one of the reasons why that’s another point where the sustainability side of things has occurred for me. Because I’ve gone out there and I will be, with my swim group, we’ll be picking up trash along the way. We picked up wrappers or whatnot and stuff back in our wet suits. And so that’s a constant reminder from that standpoint too.
>> Yeah, yeah, absolutely, well, my final question for you today is if you have any marketing resources, any books or podcasts or anything that you would recommend that we read or listen to for our continued learning. I’m such a fan of continued learning every day.
>> I wanna learn something.
>> Yes, yes, I would say one is, oh gosh, and I’m blanking on his name right now, he’s a professor at NYU. I read his blog. Follow his blog, Scott Galloway is someone I read. It’s funny, I do a lot of reading for my [UNKNOWN] and just getting news briefs from, for example, in fact, in the fashion world, I do have business of fashion. I think it so well done. It talks about trends and it talks about, I think it’s well-crafted, well curated, these news items as well as some of the articles that they do. I think they’re tremendous. And NYU’s Scott Galloway, he just cracks me up. [LAUGH] He’s a personality and he could be maybe a little caustic at times, but I think he really cares. It’s very interesting the approaches he takes about different businesses and so forth out there. So I like reading him. I read a lot of when I’m not at away from other than kind of the industry type of thing or whatnot, I again follow certain columnists or whatever. I tend to read not read business books or anything like that. I tend to read a lot more history, cuz I feel like I learned lessons from that. One of the books that I truly, I think is Management 101 is Doris Kearns Goodwin books on Lincoln, A Team of Rivals. Talk about Management 101 on that case. I mean, Lincoln brought together these group of guys who all did not like each other enemies of his, who were all enemies of his to help them out during the Civil War. And he managed them.
>> Wow, well, that’s a great book recommendation. No one’s ever recommended that book.
>> [LAUGH] So thank you for that unique perspective of actually spending some time reading history to learn about business and communication, and I love that. I think I might have to use that in maybe the promotion of our podcast, bringing together your enemies.
>> Now, that’s communication.
>> Yeah, really.
>> [LAUGH] At its finest.
>> [LAUGH] At it finest, very finest.
>> Well, we’re gonna wrap it up and I just wanna thank you again for being a fantastic guest. We’ve learned so much. And I hope you enjoyed the process of like you said, everyone likes to talk about what they do. And I can hear in your voice that you really like what you do and you’re excited and I think the future is really bright.
>> Thank you so much and thank you again for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you.
>> Yeah, this has been fun. Thanks everybody for listening to the Show Runner Marketing podcast. You can go to our website, leave a comment, follow us, thanks.