…We are lucky enough to work with the world’s leading brands and most innovative startups. Every day, we are pivoting with the constant changes in the world and are executing marketing strategies and growth hacking for these companies. We are building brands that are making everyday life better for all.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Liu the Founder of Levitate Foundry, a leading eCommerce growth firm that also incubates modern consumer brands.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
When I graduated from UC Berkeley, my closest friends (nearly everyone I knew) graduated into investment banking roles in the Finance industry. I knew I wanted to be in tech, eCommerce, building companies. I took a huge pay cut (from a typical investment banking salary) to jump directly into a tech and fashion career. I paid my dues at companies like Amazon.com, Gap Inc. Sephora, and Facebook. Now that I’ve been in eCommerce for over a decade, I have no regrets, and am grateful that I pursued my passion for building consumer brands. Generally speaking, following your passion over what’s “expected of you”, especially as a new college graduate, is the way to go. Always follow your instincts. Over the last few years, I have not followed any set “path” but rather paved my own career path in tech and marketing.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
At Levitate Foundry, we are lucky enough to work with the world’s leading brands and most innovative startups. Every day, we are pivoting with the constant changes in the world and are executing marketing strategies and growth hacking for these companies. We are building brands that are making everyday life better for all.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We’re always making mistakes when we start something. Sometimes we can laugh off those mistakes, other times the mistakes can be quite painful both emotionally and financially. The lessons to be learned from those mistakes is that they make you stronger; try to see the bright side of each mistake, and realize you’ll never make the same mistake twice.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’ve had so many great female mentors during my journey. I’m a firm believer that no matter where you go or where you work, it’s a great opportunity to meet people you can learn from. My mentors have made an impact on functional skill sets at work, but more importantly, on my perspective
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disrupting an industry is positive when we are activating new thinking (perhaps not the “societal norm” or how the mass society would typically think) and carrying it through to create new innovations that have a positive impact on how we live, think, and operate. For example, I believe Elon Musk is incredibly disruptive, he’s taken his disruptive thinking, his dreams and brought them to life for the betterment of society.
I think an instance where “disrupting an industry might not be positive’, is when the disruptive thinking or follow through execution, and impacts society for the worse — for example, technologies that separate us rather than connect us, innovations that hurt our mental health and physical bodies rather than improve our quality of life, and so on.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
It’s all about building relationships — Building a great network is all about dedicating time and energy to building strong, lasting relationships. At Levitate Foundry, many of our biggest clients have been referred by longtime friends and colleagues I’ve met throughout my career.
Be an agile learner — People who act on the same assumption they use for years are prone to become stagnant. To build sustainable success, you must continuously learn from experience and let go of approaches that are no longer useful.
Embrace the challenge — The incredible variety of clients we get to work with brings constant challenges to the table. Building successful strategies to navigate these challenges gives me the opportunity to learn and grow my business.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We are building our own brands, and helping bring brand stories to life for those individuals who have a unique story and want to share their stories.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
There are many stereotypes. I think the stereotype that women should act, behave, dress, and generally “be” a certain way — can be challenging for women disruptors. Women are stereotypically not supposed to be Type A, and throughout my career, I was penalized for having “a voice”, for speaking my mind, or for “being too aggressive” in my execution style. The same likely wouldn’t be said for a man. An “aggressive” executor is generally not thought of as pejorative for male, but indeed pejorative for female. This is an interesting gender challenge that is faced by women disruptors, that I have not seen as a challenge for their male counterparts.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, is a great book and guide for day-to-day living. It stresses the importance of living in the present moment and transcending thoughts of the past or future. Allows you to focus on what’s most important to you in your present, and not get sidetracked from your most important mission.
You are a person of great influence. 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. 🙂
Providing better early education that is a combination of skills and functional based education, but also emotional intelligence and personal growth oriented education. Creating a more robust and intelligent society requires more depth in our early education. Not everyone gets access to personal development and growth, if we can provide that in our school systems from a young age, and help young people build confidence, entrepreneurship, and belief in self, we will find our adult society operating at a much different level.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Invest in yourself — invest in your skill sets, knowledge, and growth. It’s relevant to anyone’s life. If you don’t invest in yourself, others won’t either. For example, if you want to start a company, a startup, then you can invest your time, money, efforts into that startup. VC’s aren’t going to invest in your startup if you don’t show them that you have the backbone to invest in your own idea. Show others you’re willing to invest in it yourself, both via your time, and your finances, and others will want to invest in you.
How can our readers follow you online?