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Women Going Places: Career
Lizzy Okoro

Tell Us About Yourself (Name, City, Occupation, Etc.):

My name is Lizzy Okoro, I am born and raised in Los Angeles, California where I currently reside. I founded a company called Bunch Magazine in 2011 and I exited earlier this year to launch a beauty tech startup, Yesrally. Yesrally is a platform that connects users with personalized beauty information including news and trends, tutorials and product recommendations.

 

What do you love about being a serial entrepreneur?

Creating is an addiction. Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved the process of having an idea and seeing it come to life. Being an entrepreneur is en vogue right now and there’s an over-glamorization of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. In a lot of ways it’s like being a professional gambler and we all know that lifestyle is not easy. It’s that desire to create and the love for what I have created that keeps me going despite the difficulties and challenges that entrepreneurship brings.

 

What motivates you?

Solving problems and helping other people are two of the best feelings.  As a creative and as an entrepreneur, I constantly see the world as problems that can be solved and those solutions are what propels the world forward. When people come to me and ask for help and I can present a solution that helps them and/or their business grow, it makes me want to do more and grow more as a person.

  

My journey is my journey, and everything is happening at the time that it is supposed to happen!

 

Did you ever deal with age bias? If so, how did you handle it?

I think that any age bias I’ve had to overcome was because of my own feelings towards my age. When I was younger and trying to start my first company, I was a know-it-all 21 year old who never let my age (or inexperience) stand in my way. I’m 32 now but most people assume I’m in my mid 20s. I’ve started to get the “I had no idea! You look good for your age!” comments and it does start to toy with your head. Like, am I old? 60 year olds tell me I’m young! I feel young! You wait until you’re 30 and you’ll understand just how not old you are! That paired with the fact that I’m literally starting my career over can be intimidating. So I try to remember that my journey is my journey and everything is happening at the time that it is supposed to happen. And also, I’m still young dammit lol.

  

Tell us about a time you needed to reassess. What made you reassess & what was the outcome?

2014 was a pivotal and transformative year for me. Bunch Magazine wasn’t doing well,  I was living in New York at the time and working a full time day job to fund the business. It’s impossible to give 100% at work and give 100% to my business, simple math says so.  I had a decision to make: I was either going to go all in and quit my job or I was going to let Bunch remain a passion project that I worked on after my “real job”.

So I decided to quit and move back to Los Angeles. Thankfully, everything worked out. I spent months re-branding the business and redesigning it alongside my creative director, Asia David. When we released the next issue, it sold out. A month later, Urban Outfitters and Squarespace awarded me with a $20,000 grant and we were picked up by a national magazine distributor. Taking that leap of faith was a big risk but the reward paid off.

  

What’s your ideal workwear uniform?

I’m a total minimalist these days. I’m into neutral colors, easy fabrics and comfort. A slouchy t-shirt paired with tailored pants and sandals are my go to. I like to step it up with accessories - stacked rings, a watch, statement earrings, you name it. If you would have asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have probably described something Rihanna would wear - colorful, loud, trendy, in your face, total fa-SHUN. Now I just want to look good and not have to think too much about it!

 

What have you had to sacrifice to get where you are today?

They say entrepreneurs are the only people in the world who work 80 hours a week because they don’t want to work 40 hours a week and it’s too true. When you work 80 hours a week, you sacrifice so much, some of it manageable and expected, some of it can be damaging. My personal life sometimes takes a backseat, I can’t always hang out with friends and family. My health stopped being a priority, I would sacrifice gym time in order to answer one more email - and it’s never just one. I started to realize that not all sacrifices are worth it and to slowly but surely develop better practices so that I don’t have to sacrifice as much.

 

What is your mantra?

Some women fear the fire, others become the fire.

 

What was the hardest event you had to overcome in your career to get you where you are now?

I think every single day from August 2014-May of 2015 was hard for me. Those were the months between me leaving NYC and moving back to LA to pursue Bunch full time. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. My stress level was through the roof and it was manifesting physically, my business partner had left the company unexpectedly and to top it off, I was running out of money.  That all led to doubt and feeling overwhelmed. But I survived! More importantly, I thrived! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I now know just how strong I am.

 

I always ask myself the same question: is it a level 10 problem? To me a Level 10 problem is something that is insurmountable-aka I need to start freaking out. So if my answer is “no, it’s not a Level 10 problem” then that means I can figure out a solution and I always do.

 

How do you view hardships to make them manageable?

I always ask myself the same question: is it a level 10 problem? To me a Level 10 problem is something that is insurmountable-aka I need to start freaking out. So if my answer is “no, it’s not a Level 10 problem” then that means I can figure out a solution and I always do.

 

Do you have any mentors? How did you meet them?

I do! I guess most people would describe them as peer mentors. One of my best friends is my mentor, we’ve known each other since high school. I know no matter what, he will give me honest, raw feedback, and that it comes from the purest of places. My friend, Puno (PeopleMap, ILOVECREATIVES and former AELLA profilee - read about Puno's studio visit here) is another mentor of mine. We met through another friend and she’s just amazing. She knows how to be a business woman, a creative, and a leader and I have so much respect for her and her journey.

  

What advice do you have for other women who are going places?

You are the only person standing between you and success.



Fast 5:

1. Favorite place you’ve ever traveled? Panama, hands down

2. Mission-critical apps? Asana, Slack and Headspace

3. What do you do for stress relief? Travel when I can, champagne and dancing to YouTube choreography videos when I can’t.

4. Best new restaurant discovery? Slapfish, it’s fast casual seafood and it’s insanely delicious. Go to their Instagram account and thank me later.

5. Go-to libation? Veuve Clicquot or a stiff Old Fashioned

 

From top to bottom: Lizzy is wearing the Button Down Blouse $155, High Waist Ankle Skinny $198, Tunic Dress $245



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