Behind Her Empire Podcast: MM.LaFleur Founder On Powering Through Doubt And Asking For Help

On this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, hear from Sarah LaFleur, the founder and CEO of MM.LaFleur, a fashion company creating practical, inspired wardrobes for the modern, professional woman.

LaFleur talks about the winding journey that led her to entrepreneurship and how her business went from having negative $2,000 in their bank account to grow into a multi-million-dollar company. LaFleur says they tripled their revenue overnight from one specific strategy that ended up saving the company. She also talks about how she turned the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to define the brand.


Key Takeaways:

  • MM.LaFleur was inspired by LaFleur's regular travels when she was working as a consultant, most of which left her clothes wrinkled when she showed up to meet with clients.
  • While LaFleur did not have a background in fashion, she was a professional woman who understood the pain points of getting dressed for work. Her partnership with designer and co-founder Miyako Nakamura solidified MM.LaFleur's brand identity.
  • To bring in some income while building up her company, LaFleur tutored kids in the evenings, and says she loved focusing on something other than the business while also taking some stress out of not having a regular income stream.
  • When MM.LaFleur started out, it had no website nor marketing budget. Instead, the company got the word out about the brand by doing regular trunk shows. It generated a lot of money, buzz and developed direct relationships with her customers.
  • It took about 50 investors rejections before LaFleur's mentor, Bob Deutsch — and some of his friends — invested $400,000. It was a pivotal point for the business. Without it, LaFleur believes MM.LaFleur would not be around.
"In this moment of desperation, we said, 'what if we just told our existing customers ...we're going to pick some styles that we think will work for you based on your order history. We'll send them to you and you can decide what you want to keep and what you want to return.' And it was a total last-ditch effort because we just like we're holding on to inventory. Nobody's buying them. When we sent that email, we had more people respond to that email than we ever had in any marketing email ever. We made more money in that one week than we had in any month prior to that. -- Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur

Sarah Miyazawa LaFleur is the founder and CEO of MM.LaFleur. She previously worked at TechnoServe, Starwood Capital and as a consultant at Bain and Company.


Want to hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast? Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Streaming is sidelining TV pilots. That's one of the findings in a pair of new reports released Wednesday by the nonprofit that manages most of L.A. County's film-permitting process.

The reports document the pandemic and how the rise in streaming services are changing the film production world and challenging California's place in it.

Read more Show less

Forty-five minutes in traffic won't get you very far in Los Angeles. But Virgin Hyperloop estimates it will be able to get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in that time.

The Richard Branson-owned company unveiled its hyperloop concept video Wednesday, just two months after the company's first tested its design with passengers. Traveling several hundred miles per hour in a pressurized tube is no longer a vision of the far-distant future — Virgin Hyperloop engineers want to make it a reality in less than 10 years.

Read more Show less

Bracket Capital, a Beverly Hills-based investment management firm focused on acquiring secondary shares in later-stage tech companies like SpaceX and Bird, announced Wednesday it has raised nearly half a billion dollars in equity.

The firm will split the cash between two funds, a traditional $150 million fund and another $350 million one that will co-invest alongside other firms.

Rather than buying stakes directly in startups, the firm said 80% of its shares come from snapping up existing shares. Those often come from early employees – tired of waiting for their company to go public – who are looking to cash out some of their equity so they can buy a house or pay for tuition.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS

Trending