Join Up Dots Business Coaching Podcast

Today's guest is a lady who has had many careers in her life, so it will be of great interest to discover if she feels what she is doing now is THE thing. She was a Wall Street Investment banker with a desire for fashion she could wear to work,to dinner,on weekends,and on world travels. She needed the perfect dress that could do it all,but couldn’t find it. So, Sarah made it herself. Inspired to make the most comfortable,versatile,vibrant fashion on the market, Sarah launched Leota in 2011 on the principles of empowerment, size-inclusiveness, and optimism. What began with one perfect dress made on Sarah’s home sewing machine has become a complete women’s fashion collection carried in more than 500 fine retailers globally and at the company’s flagship Boutique in Manhattan. Under Sarah’s leadership,Leota scaled up to become one of the fastest-growing women-led companies in the U.S. How The Dots Joined Up For Sarah Sarah is a 2-time Inc.500 CEO,a Smart CEO Future 50 award winner,has been honoured in Women 2 Watch in Retail Disruption,and won Game Changer of the Year for 2 years straight. Drawing on her experience growing up a world class martial artist, 2-time national Kungfu champion and world tournament competitor,Sarah knows performance under pressure. You can do any thing in a Leota dress,and Sarah is here to prove it.  She cycled a 300-mile ride in Leota to raise money to fight AIDS. She even completed a triathlon in Leota. Sarah is a muse to women in the real world. Whether it’s fashion, interiors, career, or lifestyle, her taste and authenticity are celebrated. She is a sought-after speaker on entrepreneurship and the business of fashion,and hosts her monthly web show, The She Suite. Well let's find out as we bring onto the show to join up dots with the one and only Sarah Carson Show Highlights During todays show we discussed such weighty subjects with Sarah Carson: Sarah shares how she loves the idea of what men get to choose everyday due to its simplicity. We discuss the epiphany of when the business first came to the fore in her mind, and then the dip that effects all companies  We reveal how entrepreneurship is one of the loneliest adventures you can enter into, with Sarah sharing how she overcame this in her life. and lastly....... Sarah shares how nothing is going to stop her from moving forward to success. She might have a few dark nights, but the next day is game on! How To Connect With Sarah Carson Website Facebook Linkedin Twitter Return To The Top Of Sarah Carson If you enjoyed this episode with Sarah Carson why not check out other inspirational chat with Clayton Morris, Dorie Clark, and the amazing Niall Doherty You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy Audio Transcription Of Sarah Carson Interview Intro 0:00 When we're young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here's your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph. David Ralph 0:25 Yes. Good morning to you. Good morning to you. And good morning. Again, welcome to another episode of at Join Up. Dots are the kind of show that just can go in any direction. And in today's show, we're whizzing across the pond like we always seem to do and we're speaking to a lady who's in New York City now. She's a lady who's had many careers in her life, so it will be a great interest to discover. If she feels what she's doing now is verifying the thing that she was born to do. She was a wall street investment banker with a desire for fashion, and the kind of fashion she could wear to work to dinner on weekends and on well travels. She needed that perfect dress. Yeah, you know what he's like fellas, we need that perfect dress that could do it all but she couldn't find it. So she made it for herself and inspired to make the most comfortable, versatile, vibrant fashion on the market. She launched liotta in 2011 or later I should have asked her on the principles of empowerment, sighs, inclusiveness and optimism. Now what began with one perfect dress made on our home sewing machine has become a complete women's fashion collection carried in more than 500 fine retailers globally and that the company's flagship boutique in Manhattan now under her leadership, she's scaled to become one of the fastest growing women led companies in BUS. She is an aide to time incorporated 500 CEO a smart CEO future 50 Award winner has been on it. She's done loads of things. But drawing on her experience growing up a world class martial artist two time national kung fu champion and World Tournament competitor she knows perform under pressure, you can do anything in one of our dresses and she's here to prove it. She cycled every hundred mile ride, to raise money to buy aids and she even completed a try Apollon in her clothes. She's a muse to women in the real world, whether it's fashion interiors, careers or lifestyle, a taste and authenticity, our celebrity celebrity celebrated, I should have said that better. She's a sought after speaker. So let's get her on the show. So is this the kind of thing that she just knew from from when she started, it was going to be her thing. And Where could she have done it better? Well, let's find out as we bring onto the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Sarah Carson. Good morning, Sarah, how are you? Sarah Carson 2:44 Good morning. Great to be here, David. David Ralph 2:47 It's great in it. Did you feel celebrated. It's a new word that I've just created or do you do you feel celebrated by the world outside? Sarah Carson 2:55 Oh, I think being celebrated by David Ralph is pinnacle of my career so far. David Ralph 3:02 You say you're winning me over. You're winning me over already. It's gonna be an Emmy Award winning podcast. I think this is now you're speaking to the right guy because I am a fashion driven. I know what works. I wear tricky bottoms and a white t shirt 99% of the time. I don't understand fashion at all. What am I missing? What am I missing? What makes something that's fashionable and also useful? Sarah Carson 3:29 Well, I think fashion is about expressing who you are. It's like we put on who we are every day. It's an expression of your identity, which is what's so awesome about being in the fashion business. It's like, you're part of every customers decision about how they want to project to the world each day. And so, the beautiful thing is there's no real recipe for that. But I think what matters about fashion is that it feels good that it feels comfortable that you can feel like you could be your true self and that and if that's sweatpants and a T shirt for you then you go girl. What I wanted. What I wanted to do with liotta is create something that could really work for women every day. I mean, the demands on our lives these days from work home, you know, place of worship, community volunteering, can you have a friends, your spouse? What if you had one thing that you could do everything in? That would be a huge win. So that's why I'm in this. David Ralph 4:30 Well, isn't that just Truckee bottoms in a white t shirt? Is that not the kind of thing that you can do everything in Sarah Carson 4:34 100%? Especially if you're a podcast? host? David Ralph 4:37 Yeah, absolutely. Because my wife my women are different. We know women to be different. And my wife will go out to buy a new outfit. And when she comes back, I look at it and I think it's the same as you've got in the cupboard. It looks exactly the same and she says no, it's not that one's got gold colour and not one does this and does. It's a bit of a math being a woman isn't it? And I used to work in the City of London and I used to just put on a tie a shirt and a suit and that was it. But I know that ladies, there was even a pressure to be at work but I couldn't repeat. And they you know, Christmas dues, they had to wear something different from last time. It was just a big pressure. Sarah Carson 5:18 Well that's why I find men's fashion actually really inspiring David because it's so easy for men to have a uniform. You know, when you are working in London, you can wear the same button down and tie every day and he's totally fine. You know, Steve Jobs as I know is one of your you know, someone that has been a mentor for you. If he wore the same turtleneck every day of his whole career. I love that. And I admire that a lot about men's fashion and so I wonder if there could be a uniform for women. Where there they knew there was one thing they could put on and be transformed into the best version of themselves. Does it because it is iconic As you say, the Steve Jobs Look, you know, I don't know how many years he wore that. But if I close my eyes and think of Steve Jobs, it's about outfit. If I think of like Mark Zuckerberg, he's wearing a grey t shirt, basically, you know, David Ralph 6:13 unless he's being pulled into government and being pillared before he's performance. Ben, he has to wear a suit. But generally, it's that thing about not having to think about what you're wearing. That's what I was going to do it, isn't it, it takes a decision away. Sarah Carson 6:28 Yeah. And I always say, you know, you can't change the world in uncomfortable clothes. Right. And David Ralph 6:35 is that is that your standard response to most things? Sarah Carson 6:39 Well, yeah, because you look at what women are expected to do. And then it's just like, Are you serious? Right now, I'm supposed to wear these heels and these tight clothes and these Spanx, it's like, forget about it. So you know, it's funny when I was an investment banker, there were very, they're still very few women working in the industry, but the women would be kind of like cooped up in these like Tight office ladies suits that were kind of like women's versions of the men's power suit. And it's conforming, constricting. And I just started to think like, What if there was a better way, and meanwhile, strolling down the street in New York or LA, I would see women wearing exercise clothes, walking down the street, and I was like, What if there were a fashion option for women that were as comfortable as wearing yoga pants or exercise clothes, or jeans and a T shirt, but was actually appropriate for our lifestyles today? David Ralph 7:39 I love the fact that you say strutting down New York because I've just been there for a few weeks. You don't stop more than about two inches without stopping because somebody is in your way. It's the it's the busiest place I've ever been to in my life. Sarah Carson 7:52 Yeah, it really is and actually was cool. for women's equality day a couple weeks ago, we took over time square with Is the probably the busiest corner in the world with a message of empowering women celebrating all of the progress we've made and the kind of struggle towards equality, and also getting motivated for the work that still needs to come. So that was pretty awesome to be in Times Square. And instead of seeing all of the ads to see this kind of feminist message for all our customers, oh, yeah, you can't move very much. Your tone is David Ralph 8:33 terrible. I didn't know how busy it was. I went many years ago, it was a YU breeding like rabbits over there. I think. I think that's the problem. I think we should bring in contraception and then give it out to everybody. You know, it doesn't matter. Instead of having movies, get on a bus tour things give out condoms on the street. That's what we want. Sarah Carson 8:54 Yeah, I would support that maybe for for different reasons, but yes, 100% Let's get some positive contraception women's health approach here in the States. You know, that's got to be a priority. David Ralph 9:09 Yeah. And I will be your your flagship, I will be the person forcing that through if anybody can bring in women health changes is going to be me, isn't it? Sarah Carson 9:19 Oh, thank you, David. I love this intersection between feminism and podcasting. So let's do this. David Ralph 9:25 Let's do this. Let's bring it all together. Now one of the things that we talked about on this show over time is the entrepreneur journey. That's basically you know, the whole thing. Now, I am amazed by what you created, because everything that I've spoken to across the world always starts with an idea of I save everything is created twice, once in your head and then once in real life. Now, you actually started with a sewing machine, which amazed me but anybody still has sewing machines. And you actually vain took that idea. How did you do it? So I don't teach you moving away. From condoms I'm not interested in that anymore. I mean, you and how did you do it? Sarah Carson 10:04 Well I started to see this trend in fashion where people wanted to be comfortable and I thought that was awesome but there I searched everywhere for this perfect dress that would be that would feel really cute though it feel beautiful in but I would also feel comfortable and like I could move and do the things I need to do. I can find this thing anywhere. So I decided to make it myself. And before I was an investment banker, I was an artist I loved to make things. So basically by day I was closing multibillion dollar deals for Fortune 50 companies and by night I was sewing and it was a I had a hobby, which is awesome. It's hard when you work on Wall Street. It's exactly like what you see in the movies. Hundred hour work weeks. Watching the sun come up over Park Avenue. I mean so many hours spent in tight office lady clothes, so it was this amazing way to unwind by making something that was going to feel amazing. And honestly, I got so many compliments and orders from friends and family after a while that I thought I might really be onto something bigger. So I decided to go for it. And it was super risky and kind of crazy. I mean, I'm a first born, traditional success driven person. So to like quit, one of the most coveted jobs in the world was, you know, really not in my DNA. David Ralph 11:37 And did you have people saying, Sarah, Sarah, what the hell are you doing? You have to be here for another 40 years and you can add that office on the corner can all that kind of stuff. Sarah Carson 11:47 Well, I had a lot of success at the bank that I was working at, and I could have done anything in that business. But I felt that I wanted to do something that I was really passionate about and I honestly didn't receive that much pushback. I mean, you would have thought I've involved parents, you would have thought my parents would have said, Sarah, you're crazy. What are you thinking? But I think that they ultimately wanted me to be happy to and they lied to me early on. They told me that I was supposed to be that I was going to love my career and that it was going to be like, so fun and amazing to have a career. And I got into my career in business and Wall Street, and I was like, Guys, this is not fun. This is not interesting. It's sexist. It's 100 hour weeks. It's like a little bit uninspiring. What's wrong with this picture? David Ralph 12:42 Come on, come on. Come on. I've been in bang, I'd have done thinking and I've done ensuring insurance as well. It's the most boring job, when you say is a little bit less than inspiring. sitting there looking at spreadsheets and making other people richer. It's terrible. It's the worst job ever. So I love the way that you had that venom of my parents lied to me. Sarah Carson 13:08 They lied to me. David Ralph 13:10 bonkers and look at me now look at me you know what I've done? And so I'm sure they're massively proud of you now. Unknown Speaker 13:16 Yeah, I think they are. Do not know Ben. David Ralph 13:19 Nice if you never asked him Sarah Carson 13:23 Well, I'm sure yeah, I'm sure the I'm proud of me. How do I know my parents are proud of me? Oh, David, I didn't know we are going to go here and so like deep childhood, Unknown Speaker 13:38 like that's Welcome sir. Sarah Carson 13:42 Well, I think I'm the firstborn of my family. I think there's always a lot of pressure on me to have traditional success. And like I don't know where you are in your birth order. But you know, like my little sister got like all the allowance like didn't have to have a job like that sent all over the world on my parents dime, you know, like, very Different experience and for me though, like, you need to have a job and you need to, you know, make sure you have like, you know, be the valedictorian and everything which was fine by me. I mean I was very successive and as well and I actually ended up naming liotta after my great grandmother. And that's because my family has been a huge inspiration to me. And so I think by naming my company after my family has tied everybody to the success and the storey, so you could have David Ralph 14:38 you could have called it you liars. have been I would have gotten a message one night. Yeah, I'm glad you went the way you did. And the reason I asked that is I'm very aware that my parents like they never say anything nice. They never say anything and never say I love you. You know, I can say to my mom on the phone, Lucky mom. She says yet another Never going to be back. By don't hug if I don't do anything. And it was something I grew up with. So I didn't realise but my wife, my wife will hug lampposts she had anything and so she sort of says you know why why do they do that? It's just the way they are. So when they started you know, when when we had our first child for example, and we stood and we said to my mama Daddy, you can be grandparents they went well hope you know what you're doing that there was there was no sort of great congratulations or anything. And so what I've created on my side of the fence here, only a small little ripple in the in the ocean of liotta course. But um, I've got no idea if they're proud or anything, so he's just, it's a leading question to make me wonder if I'm on my own. Am I on my own? Do we all need parental praise somewhere down the line? Sarah Carson 15:50 Well, ultimately, I mean, this is probably sounds a little bit depressing. But as entrepreneurs, I think it is one of the loneliest endeavours you can do and That was something that really surprised me when I first started my company. I always had like, good relationships with my team members and everything at work. But I didn't really realise how important that was until I started my brand. And I was the only person and it was a little bit lonely. And that surprised me. And I didn't realise how much having a community around what I'm doing can really feed me. So later in life I later in my entrepreneurship journey, I really worked on that like joining groups with other entrepreneurs to kind of approximate that co founder feeling. So yeah, I think it is a profoundly alone experience. Being an entrepreneur. David Ralph 16:50 I agree with you totally. I do agree with you totally. Because on the very first episode of Join Up Dots I ever recorded, I actually said to the guy, do you ever get lonely you know, because I gone from an office environment where there was everyone to sitting on my own. He said, No, never get lonely. And I thought, brilliant, that's why I'm never gonna get lonely. And suddenly I didn't see anyone. And he got particularly lonely at like Christmas when everybody was going after Christmas parties. And I think, Well, I haven't had a single invite, but you bet you don't in this environment. You know, it is It's strange. How do you find that support, but actually is worthwhile to you? Not virtually, but the real people that you can really trust as you're ploughing through the dark times that we have in entrepreneurship, and it happens to everyone, as you find a good one so Sarah Carson 17:38 well as entrepreneurs. Well, pretty much in any entrepreneur who's listening to this will know everybody wants something from you, as soon as you have your own company. And, and I mean, it's so New York, it's so LA. It's like, Hi, how, what do you do? How can I like that? something from you. I mean, it's just it's a very transactional, which is great because that can be really efficient. But it's also kind of sad. And I constantly get requests for my time, like, come to this dinner, come to this meeting, join this virtual group. I mean, there's zillions of them now, which is amazing because I think people have realised how important community is for people that are really trying to change the world and trying to create something new. But finding the right ones is super crucial. So I joined entrepreneurs organisation A few years ago, and that was like a total game changer for me because all of a sudden, I was part of this group of founders who were going through the same thing as me, like how do we scale up our businesses? In some cases? How do we scale them down? How do we deal with suddenly being responsible for every single aspect of the company and that intersection between personal and professional needs to be addressed and groups that do that I think are super important. Because how many things you listen to where you only get the highlight reel, like you open up for so you look at the cover of entrepreneur, it's like this person's perfect journey towards success straight to the top. And, you know, it took five days to make $500 million. And me those and I'm like, Well, I suck. You know, I wasn't able to do that. My that my experience was like a lot messier than that. I mean, obviously, this person didn't have an entire container of their product, stuck on a container with someone else's endangered species pelts. They got stuck in customs for like two months. I mean, these are the sorts of things that are out of our control that like can seriously derailed business. And so it's neat to find groups and like podcasts like this, are people going to tell you the real deal? It's like, it's like What Messier, then Entrepreneur Magazine would have, I think, David Ralph 20:05 Yeah, I agree with you. I agree with you. I was just saying to the wife a moment ago, my business is going great. So it's wonderful. But I still feel behind the scenes away from the sexy front piece. I feel like it's a incredible jigsaw puzzle where I haven't quite got it all together. And it's, it's, you know, it's making great money, brilliant. People are listening in their files is brilliant, but it's not where I want it to be. And I'm very aware with myself as a podcaster. When I first started over six years ago, there was a phase when I'd say yeah, I'm a podcaster. And people would go and what's bad and I'd have to explain it. And then there was a bit where it seemed to open loads of doors. But now literally, every person every down and out on the street has got a microphone and they're all saying their podcast hosts and it's, it's kind of saturated, and I'm I'm looking forward to the time when all the people paga actually, a move on to something else. And I go right, I'm still here, come and come and listen to me. And I sort of ride through. But is it's messy behind the scenes, isn't it, you've always got things that you need to do. You've always got things that you're launching to the world, but isn't quite where it should be. And the vision, a vision is always harder to get than you can possibly think that's probably some words. And then we're going to delve back into this because it's very, very important is Oprah. Oprah Winfrey 21:27 The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. You know, you're not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you because failure is just there to point you in a different direction. David Ralph 21:59 Now Bed good words for this conversation on I Sarah Carson 22:03 love you, Oprah. Yeah, totally. Now, I mean, I love that because it's like, so daunting to think of where you want to get. You can't do that in one day, can spend a lot of people into a spiral David Ralph 22:16 where you can and which gets me to where you are because from the outside looking at you, you're a natural fit. You're a glamorous lady, you're wearing bright colours, you just look like a fashion person. But of course, there was a time when you was probably wearing grey suits and black suits and sitting there. That journey, that mental journey of actually saying I'm going to do something different from everybody else. How did you overcome that? Sarah Carson 22:52 I think at a deep level, it was about becoming who I truly am and joining up the dots, wink wink between who I was on the inside and how I projected myself on the outside. And when I was an investment banker cooped up in my tight office ladies suits, trying to be one of the guys. You know, I spent my I grew up and spent my early career being led by white men in suits. And a lot of them were really nice. But it was impossible to to not start equating leadership with a certain race and gender that most of us simply can never be. And so I sort of realised within that environment as important it is as it is to make change from within that if I was going to truly be able to become a leader and embrace my femininity, then I was probably going to have to do something else. And so I think that women like me who are stepping up and taking their shot and founding their own companies are claiming kind of a transformational opportunity. Because now I mean women can look at their leadership and see themselves reflected. And I think that representation and that self expression is so important. And I'm excited to be on the forefront of that. At Liotta, the boss has frizzy hair tattoos have penchant for red lipstick and and I'm the boss are in my voice. My face has authority. And that's really different from the way I grew up in my career. Does that make sense? David Ralph 24:55 Women are taking over the world at the moment. It does it It certainly does. It PIP Women are taking over the world. It certainly, from my view, the fact that we've now got like a on a flippin level, a female doctor who now when I was growing up that would never have happened and the fact that they're saying there should be a female James Bond and there should be a female, there is definitely a movement towards ladies now it's brilliant. And I go, you know, if you can do a job as well as a man, go for it, you know, and then you shouldn't be held back. I don't want a woman James Bond. I don't. And I don't you know, I think there's certain levels but it's too far. Sarah Carson 25:38 Well, maybe it's not going to be the same thing. Maybe it's something different that can be just as exciting and powerful. Definitely just doesn't work David Ralph 25:48 that Cody James Bond. Unknown Speaker 25:50 How about Jamie? David Ralph 25:55 It's too It's too close is too close. But I do think there is a certain movement at the moment which is Which is great. And I do you know, I'd like to see it spread to all areas because there's there's nothing that can hold anyone back. Other than being a female James Bond that's not going to happen but away from every single person out there listening should be out but to go I want to do that I want to be the next Carson. I want to have frizzy hair tattoos and bright lipstick and be respected and they want to do that they can make it happen calmly. Sarah Carson 26:28 Well, yeah, and I think it's it's still feels like a little bit radical because I think our concept of leadership still looks like a certain person that students are not a Sarah Carson look and feel. But I think with every person that steps out and gives it a shot and works for a woman, start so company helps out a woman next to them. We're making those small, important steps kind of like Oprah was saying David Ralph 27:01 Now with the designs that you do, I was predicting up and down and to be honest, I didn't spend that long because I don't know what I'm looking at. It's just nice dresses. But women come in all different shapes and sizes that does your company cope for all types of women or is it very much focused on the real skinny ones? The larger ones are what is your offering? Sarah Carson 27:24 liotta is the OG size and fits a brand we've been bucking the fashion industry is systemic sizes and since day one offering sizes extra extra small through five x. Back in the early days, I actually had to fire my agent and my photographer in order to even do a campaign featuring a plus size model next to the industry's quote unquote straight models. And and then that was really radical back then because people thought well, no one's going to buy the product if it if we show somebody that's not like 18 Caucasian and and sin but I said forget that beauty comes in all shapes sizes, colours, ethnicities sexuality genders and so it's really important for me to represent that with my brand Unknown Speaker 28:18 so I think the future of fashion and when you say extra extra small David Ralph 28:22 yeah when you say extra extra small are we talking about drove drove Are we just talking very little people Sarah Carson 28:29 we're talking about some very well people David Ralph 28:31 but not drove your you're alienating too often? Sarah Carson 28:35 I would I would say I'm not sure we're supposed to say dwarfs anymore, David. But oh one little people are included in the liotta world because I think beauty doesn't have to do with size. And that's got it that's got to

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