Published on April 17, 2019
Sometimes in the course of life, a defining moment happens that changes the course of the future. Welcome to our series: Three questions with WSB Direct Connect speakers, on key turning points that influenced who they are today.
Lindsay Angelo is a born entrepreneur.
She demonstrated her business savvy and penchant for innovation at a young age — launching her very first start-ups as a teenager. Since then, Angelo’s been on an upward trajectory, seeking what’s next in the future of business and retail.
Angelo brought her passion and expertise to Lululemon, where she crafted their global growth strategy and analyzed trends in consumerism. With audiences, she ignites people to innovate for a better tomorrow.
We asked Angelo about what drives her, and how we can light that same fire in our own lives.
1. What sparked your interest in entrepreneurship? Tell us about your first start-up business endeavor.
My love affair with entrepreneurship dates back to bootstrapping two scrappy start-ups as a teenager. At 14 years old, my mom suggested sewing lessons as a way to channel my creativity. Those lessons inspired my very first entrepreneurial venture, Lindsay’s Microwave Mitts. “Protect your fingers from hot dishes fresh out of the microwave — a must have in every household!”
I’d like to say they were profitable, but naïve to the cost of labor, my rookie entrepreneur self learned quickly we were paying ourselves about 25 cents/hour. Lesson number one in entrepreneurship.
Fast forward one year, my second venture, Millennium Scarves, was born — an opportunistic play celebrating Y2K. From that point forward, a businesswoman was born! From there, I went on to bigger roles with bigger companies — angel investing, a fin-tech start-up, the 2010 Olympic Games, and Lululemon.
Two years ago, my entrepreneurial spirit began to beckon again. After careful consideration, some soul searching and a dose of courage, I spread my wings to follow my entrepreneurial dreams.
2. What role do you see corporations playing in building a better tomorrow? And why are consumers and society calling for this more than ever before?
Business is a powerful force, yet how we currently view it is through traditional means — that won’t suffice in solving modern-day problems. There is an opportunity to shift our perspective, and the time for that shift is now.
As context, we’re seeing a new economy of consumers emerge who are looking to spend their hard-earned dollars bettering themselves and the world, and fulfilling their potential. These “aspirational” consumers are growing in numbers and beckoning for change. It’s a consumer we saw a lot of at Lululemon and an economy I refer to as the “self-actualization economy” (think back to Maslow vis a vis Psychology 101).
The opportunity for any company who serves a consumer is to shift how we think about value creation by adopting the lens of “betterment.” Answering the question, “How are we helping consumers achieve their fullest potential?” vs. simply “What problem are we solving?” and “How will we profit by doing it?”
Amongst growing global turmoil, this shift towards conscious business and social growth models is imminent and has the potential to create a force for positive change. With implications spanning business strategy, innovation, brand and marketing, sustainability and operations, the companies who will win in the future will be the ones who do this well.
3. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs and aspiring start-up business owners?
Invest in building your tribe. Entrepreneurship takes a village. A mentor once told me “you don’t build a business, you build relationships, and they build the business.” Probably some of the best advice I’ve heard. Invest in people and relationships — not the meet-someone-and-have-a-ten-minute-conversation-at-a-networking-event kind, but in deep relationships. Not only will you need them in growing your business, but entrepreneurship can, at times, feel like you’re Tom Hanks in “Castaway.” It’s during these times that having a tribe you can lean on is crucial to creating a sense of belonging and community.
Follow your curiosity. “Stick to what you know” is a strict school of thought in many entrepreneurship circles. After living that, I’ve come to believe just the opposite. By keeping an open mind and embracing novelty, you breed opportunities. Learn to view the horizon as your stage.
Be dogged. When things aren’t going as planned or you get thrown a curve ball, persevere. Entrepreneurship tests and develops you in ways nothing else does — I think of all of them as part of the Hero’s Journey. When you’re at the end of your rope, that’s when it’s the hardest to dig deep — but that’s also when it’s the most important. Be dogged.