female founder spotlight: michelle cordeiro grant, founder & CEO of lively
can you think of a better spotlight for valentine’s month than the female founder who reinvented the lingerie industry? we can’t! we sat down with michelle cordeiro grant, founder & CEO of lively and creator of the ‘leisuree’ movement.
fun fact: michelle was the first person we ever gifted a blankbox to! she runs a multi-million dollar business, but in the female founder collective spirit, has still found time to be an incredible resource, mentor, and inspiration.
what inspired you to start lively? how has the brand evolved from the original idea?
It was while I was at Victoria’s Secret that I realized that the $13 billion lingerie category in the U.S. alone was dominated by this one brand, with one POV. I was inspired to create a completely new experience for this category, one that was inspired by real life. The concept of LIVELY began around what I always thought was missing from the lingerie category: a brand that delivered on what it means to be sexy today—smart, healthy, active and confident. Today, LIVELY sets out to deliver on high style and ultimate comfort in one place so that women can live their lives 14 hours a day and not have to compromise. Looking back, it’s amazing to see that every experience truly shaped the ethos and purpose of LIVELY and where I landed.
you don’t have a co-founder. can you talk about how you managed all the responsibilities of starting and growing a company early on? what are the most important things to dedicate your time to as a new entrepreneur?
In the beginning when I was my own CEO and only employee with no company name, I started the journey by developing a vision board. Then I spent most of my time networking and making a list of things I was unfamiliar with like digital marketing, customer service and so on. The reason I did this was so that I could use the network that I took the time to build to support me in those key areas.
you pioneered the phrase “leisurée” – how is this important to your brand values? What do you feel are the strongest differentiators about your brand relative to its competitors?
With our mission in mind and our experience in hand, we knew we wanted to do things differently. We started by wiping the slate clean and taking our time pulling together elements of high style, function, femininity and comfort that we personally loved. We began by buying yoga pants and cutting the waistbands off and stapling them to bralettes because this is what we wanted to wear all day. The end product was so authentic in concept and design that we realized we created a whole new product category—one that blurs the lines of active, lingerie and swim called Leisurée.
what has been your most impactful learning moment for lively so far?
One of the most impactful learning moments for us has been really taking the time to listen to our customers, incorporate them in every facet of our brand and deliver them products that they ask for. An example of this is when we launched our Busty Bralettes, which sold out in less than 24 hours with over 3,000 people on our waitlist. Our DD and DDD girls asked us to make a bralette for them and not only did we deliver, but we involved them in the marketing and sharing of this launch.
how would your team describe your leadership style, and how has that impacted the growth of your brand? any specific words you live by?
You’re only good as your team. One of my first bosses gave me this advice that I’ll never forget. I truly believe it’s not what we can accomplish as individuals, but what we can do together. It’s the entire team behind LIVELY that’s striving off each other’s strengths, talents, and passions that make this company a success. I strive to create an environment where my team is able to be curious, explore their passions and tackle new projects. It’s the most rewarding feeling in the world when our projects come to life, especially knowing that we all accomplished these moments together.
talk to us about your decision to raise money. at what point did you know it was the right decision, and what are some of the questions & concerns we can expect from potential investors?
When I launched LIVELY in 2016, I was able to fund the brand with an angel round pre-launch to help bring LIVELY to life. I strategically took a different approach in that I purposefully took capital from our manufacturer versus going to a traditional VC or financial partners. The reason why I took this approach was that I wanted to build LIVELY on community and experience first therefore needed to have a solid quality product that could stand strong on its own and go beyond our customers’ expectations. At the early stages, understand that investors are investing in the entrepreneur. They want to know and understand the your vision, they want to see the proof of concept or product and where it will fit in the market.
what does being a female founder mean to you? Is there a female founder in particular you look up to?
As a female founder, my goal when starting LIVELY has always been to give back to the female community both through LIVELY’s mission and my own personal efforts. It’s extremely important to me to be able to help women build confidence, lead and change their dreams into goals. LIVELY is all about inclusivity and with our ambassador program, which we now have +65,000 ambassadors around the country, we have been able to create a community of smart and strong women who share stories and do the things they love with one another. A female founder that I look up to is Diane von Furstenberg because she has been able to defy gender stereotypes and establish herself in the fashion industry without having to sacrifice her role as a mother. Her fearless attitude and understanding of what today’s women need and want to have inspired me and my journey as a female entrepreneur in this industry.
we ask every founder we meet this question, because it’s usually a fun story! how did you come up with the name lively?
I created a persona of who I thought the customer should be—her name was Liv. In my mind, Liv was adventurous, free-spirited, friendly and outgoing. She was the kind of girl who you’d want to be friends with and who would always have your back. As I thought about different words that shared and described Liv’s personality, the word LIVELY came to mind. By definition, LIVELY means “full of life and energy, active and outgoing,” which describes the persona I had been envisioning!
so…need we say more? a huge thank you to michelle for a great conversation, and for being an inspirational female founder changing the conversation in the lingerie industry! all product photos are shoppable but be warned … your bra & undies drawer will never be the same.
*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of michelle grant.
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real.