If you’re looking for a way to fix a problem, you are a true founder. Founders are fixers! If you want to fix a problem, you’re likely to create the answer yourself.
Focus makes the heart grow fonder. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving something all of your energy and watching it blossom.
Stay true to yourself. Don’t let the patriarchy inform your idea of what kind of CEO to be. You are your own boss.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily J. Smith, founder and CEO of Chorus — a matchmaking app where friends swipe for friends. She missed the days when friends would set up other friends. The world of online dating had become detached and devoid of community. That was the inspiration for founding Chorus. Smith has a background in engineering and business, but is also a writer who has been featured in The New York Times, Salon, Bustle, etc.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
Sure, great to be part of this! I was a real dorky kid — constantly building weird gadgets around my house. We didn’t have much money and I had to pay for college myself so I went into engineering to make sure I’d have a job out of school.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
My friends and I decided to create Chorus over dinner together. The partnered friends and the single friends all had different complaints about the current dating scene. Partnered friends missed setting their friends up and single friends were tired of swiping. That’s when we decided to take matters into our own hands and create Chorus, an app that allowed matchmakers to swipe for their friends.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
bell hooks, “All About Love” is a beautiful, feminist forward exploration of love in many forms. I highly recommend it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m not really into favorites, but a quote I like a lot is Rilke’s “Live the questions.”
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
A lifestyle brand is different from a normal, typical brand because it encompasses so much more than one thing. It’s a cultural shift in the way we live our lives. And if my brand can help people find love, or bond with their friends, then it’s a small but significant cultural shift.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
The main benefit of creating a lifestyle brand is the gift of fostering community. Watching people come together through something you created is one of the greatest rewards of creating a lifestyle brand.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
The New Yorker is classy and reliably good and is a brand that has withstood the tests of time. I think staying true to yourself and your branding will generally yield good results.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
People love what they can relate to. Humans love to relate to other humans, it’s how we communicate. Creating a lifestyle brand that people understand on a macro and micro level is key.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Hiring and maintaining a team is a big challenge especially with limited funds. I’ve seen entrepreneurs — I’ve also made this mistake myself before — hire the wrong people for the job and wait too long to do anything about it. Especially early on you have to be very intentional about where you put your resources.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
Start somewhere. This is true for big daunting projects, or even on a day by day micro level. If you want or need to do something, break it down into smaller pieces, and just start somewhere.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- We are all always learning. You won’t just wake up one day and be done learning, every aspect of starting a lifestyle brand is an education. Soak it in.
- If you’re looking for a way to fix a problem, you are a true founder. Founders are fixers! If you want to fix a problem, you’re likely to create the answer yourself.
- Focus makes the heart grow fonder. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving something all of your energy and watching it blossom.
- Connection is everything. Without connection at work or in life, things lack the heart they deserve.
- Stay true to yourself. Don’t let the patriarchy inform your idea of what kind of CEO to be. You are your own boss.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I just think we need to drastically shift power in this country, so I guess I would inspire people who usually are at the helm to step back and let people who have traditionally been at the margins but have also always been fighting for equality and inspiring movements do the talking.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
There are a million people I’d love to have lunch with for different reasons, mostly feminist social justice leaders, but they certainly have better things to do!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.