​Sarah LaFleur is.the founder and CEO of MM.LaFleur

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.


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