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Women in Business Q&A: Lisa Carrol and Brittany Peltz Buerstedde, LIVLY

When Lisa Carrol's twin daughters were born premature, she had trouble finding suitable clothing for their sensitive skin. She found the answer in the highest quality of Peruvian pima cotton, which then became 'the fabric' of LIVLY BABY. She designed a collection of soft layette wear, and 3 years later, LIVLY opened its doors in Stockholm, Sweden.

As a young figure skater, Brittany Peltz Buerstedde helped to design her own costumes alongside her fashion model mother. She believed even at a young age that beauty and comfort should go hand in hand. Inspired by her large, close-knit family, and having been friends with Lisa for years, Brittany joined the LIVLY team in 2014.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

LC: I've always been part of a team, and I've always loved the thought of "us" and "ours" rather than "me" and "mine". Growing up with 5 siblings I had to learn at an early age to solve problems and to respect other people. I started playing basketball at the age of 7, and the sport is one of the biggest loves of my life. It has given me so many opportunities in life, such as representing team Sweden, it earned me a scholarship to Fordham University, and later a professional career where I played for Rome's women's team. I've had the honor to serve as captain on most teams that I played for, and I think being diplomatic, aiming high, and making sure my teammates are on the same path, is one of the reasons why.

BPB: I have so much to attribute to my experience as a figure skater. Like every competitive sport, skating ingrained the value of hard work, discipline and taking responsibility for my actions.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at LIVLY?

LC: Growing up I spent most of my free time at the royal theatre in Stockholm, where my aunt worked as a seamstress. Prints, silhouettes and material have always been my passion, but I went on to study finance and marketing. The mix has given me the opportunity to do what I do today.

BPB: I've always been passionate about the arts; studying film at NYU during college and majoring in documentaries with a focus on fashion films. I believe that all of the arts lend to one another. Exploring as many creative realms as possible is extremely helpful in keeping a broad and inspired mind.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at LIVLY?

LC: I think most people who start their own business find it very challenging in the beginning. The fashion and retail industry is one of the most competitive business areas in the world, and many people did not understand why I wanted to enter that market. Finance, connections and production sustainability are necessary components to survive the first couple of years. I was lucky to have friends and family who believed in me and helped me build my dream. Today, almost 4 years after starting LIVLY, my former nanny (who is now my current head of Operations!) and I can sit and laugh about the first year. Things have definitely changed since then.

Being recognized for your work is one of the most fulfilling parts of the job. Getting an award, or being featured among other brands/ people you respect. But there is nothing that gives me goose bumps more than seeing my children in my designs. Sometimes, on days when most things seem challenging, I go and sit in one of the parks here in Stockholm, and wow, it's amazing to see so many children in LIVLY hats and jackets.

What advice can you offer to women who are seeking a career in your industry?

LC: Aside from being extremely passionate with what you do, you need to have a plan. Without a plan there is no execution and almost no chance ofsucceeding. Start with setting up goals. Aim high, but make sure that you divide your goals into part-goals. For example, when starting LIVLY I had a plan to open 10 stores within 5 years. If I had seen it as just 10 stores, I think I would have given up after the first 6 months since it seemed so impossible. Instead, I made a plan saying that I would open 1 LIVLY store within the first year, 2 LIVLY stores within the second year, and so on. I could pat myself on the back each year for succeeding, and it encouraged me to keep on going. It is important to feel that you meet your goals and that you succeed. I also think it is important for fashion designers to see the whole picture: To be competitive in today's industry it is not enough to be a great designer. If you don't understand marketing, PR or margins, (or know someone who does) it will be extremely hard to succeed. Make sure to surround yourself with good people who can help you reach your dream. In sum, set goals, make a plan and find your dream team to execute the plan with!

BPB: Follow your passions and stay true to your aesthetic. Everybody will always tell you how hard and impossible it is, but if you truly believe you belong in the fashion world don't let any negativity or impossibility stand in your way. That being said, be prepared to work hard and face the unexpected adversity that comes with every creative field.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

LC: LIVLY is my life- haha. My husband and I have now established a no-computer- no-cellphone-rule when the kids are home. I want to be able to give them my full attention, and I feel the same way about LIVLY when I'm at work. I also make sure to plan dates with my husband, as well as spending time with friends. When I first started LIVLY, work was all I thought about. I found myself being extremely tired and I couldn't focus or come up with as many useful ideas. Now, when I let my brain rest and think about other things, I think I'm more focused when I'm working.

BPB: My work life and home life don't always have such clear-cut boundaries but I am extremely grateful for that. Having a baby is the absolute best research I could ask for! It allows me to see what works and what doesn't, creating and fulfilling a wish list with all of our products and designs.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

BPB: I think the biggest challenge for women in the workplace resides in the first year following birth. Starting a family is a lot of work, emotionally and physically and gets even more complicated when trying to juggle a career. I think it is wonderful being a modern woman, having the opportunity to have a career and be a mother but I haven't met anyone who finds it easy or clear cut; especially in the beginning. Breastfeeding, burping and diaper changes leaves very little time for work never mind sleep (regardless of whether you have help or not). Motherhood is a full-time job and I think society is still adjusting and has much room for improvement when it comes to creating support for new mothers and families.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

LC: My coaches have always been the leaders I most look up to, and all of the 9 coaches I have have somehow made an impact on my life. I think the athletic world is very tough both mentally and physically, and definitely prepares you for challenges in life. Lets just say that after playing D1 ball (or any sport I can imagine) everything else in life seems more manageable.

BPB: The closest things I've ever had to mentors are my parents. They are not merely mentors but also my idols and inspiration.

All of the values I cherish and strive to instill in my daughter Eva come from my parents who are BOTH the most hardworking people I know. My dad always told us that hard work is everything, and unlike most people who preach this message, he showed us what this meant- everyday! Actions speak louder than words! My mother defines HEART, she is the kindest and most giving person I know; always putting everyone before herself. She gives not only to family and friends but truly helps anyone that is in arms reach. She is my angel while my dad is my superhero.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

BPB: I admire Jessica Alba for her female entrepreneurship and key role in The Honest Company, a leader in sustainable, toxin-free household and baby products company. I love not only what her brand stands for, but I also absolutely love her products! It is so wonderful to see another beautiful woman and mother succeed in her passions.

Diane Von Furstenberg is another female icon I greatly admire. I love her strength of character that shows the ability to be a strong and successful leader without compromising femininity or beauty. I also appreciate that her designs are not merely about aesthetics but go a step further in celebrating female leadership and independence.

What do you want LIVLY to accomplish in the next year?

LC: I am so excited for LIVLY to finally open in the US! The online store will open in early fall, and we plan to open 2 LIVLY stores within the next year!

BPB: We couldn't be more excited for all that LIVLY has going on, including our upcoming collections, which is one of our absolute favorites!

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