Episode 16: The Secret to 40,000 Brand Ambassadors, with Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of LIVELY

Michelle created a movement to empower women from the first piece of clothing they put on in the morning. She shares the secrets of how she built a culture-driven business that has inspired more than 40,000 brand ambassadors, the role of customer feedback in her product strategy, and how she took a direct-to-consumer brand to multiple offline retail locations.

Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of LIVELY, has spent her career creating brands and product for some of the world’s largest retailers including Federated, VF Corporation, Limited Brands/ Victoria’s Secret and Thrillist Media Group. Grant realized that her passion was in supporting, creating and developing amazing brands and products and instantly fell in love with the entire process from concept to customer. While working with Victoria’s Secret, she learned that the $13B lingerie category, in the US alone, was dominated by a single brand, with a single point of view, so Grant was inspired to create a completely new experience for the category — one she calls Leisurée — and LIVELY was born.

Highlights from the episode:

2:45 What prompted you to start the company and this movement?
4:42 What are your company’s values and how did it affect how you built the company?
6:25 How did you grow the brand-ambassador community to 40,000 strong?
8:31 How does the brand leverage Instagram?
9:13 Talk about your company’s social media strategy. What kind of metrics do you think about, how do you staff your team to optimize for social media?
10:27 Beyond Instagram, what other social platforms are relevant as a direct-to-consumer brand?
11:25 How do you think about competition?
12:09 What’s an example of your company implementing a customer-driven strategy?
13:48 What are the challenges of being both a digital brand and selling a physical good?
15:09 What’s an example of a time where you tried something and it didn’t go as planned?
16:23 As a digital-first, direct-to-consumer brand, why go offline? What are the benefits and what is the long-term strategy?
17:41 What are some learnings from opening your own shop compared to launching within a known retailer?
19:48 On your most recent trip to China, what made it an eye-opening experience? How did it change your perspective or influence your strategy?
23:28 Tell us more about the choice to expand into other categories. Why did you make this choice and how did it go?
25:23 How have you built your team?
30:19 What is a book or piece of content you’d recommend to entrepreneurs and founders?
30:52 Who are some mentors that helped you along the way?
31:28 Tell us about an entrepreneur you really admire and why?
31:51 If LIVELY was a person, what would you tell her?

If you have any questions you’d like us to ask our guests, or founders you’d like to hear on this podcast, feel free to email us at founderrealtalk@ggvc.com. If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on the Apple podcast app to help others find this podcast.

GGV Capital is a global venture capital firm that invests in local founders. As a multi-stage, sector-focused firm, GGV focuses on seed-to-growth stage investments across Consumer/New Retail, Social/Digital & Internet, Enterprise/Cloud and Frontier Tech sectors. The firm was founded in 2000 and manages $6.2 billion in capital across 13 funds. Past and present portfolio companies include Affirm, Airbnb, Alibaba, Bitsight, ByteDance (Toutiao), Ctrip, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Gladly, Hello Chuxing, HashiCorp, Houzz, Keep, LingoChamp, Namely, Niu, Nozomi Networks, Opendoor, Peloton, Poshmark, Slack, Square, Wish, Xauto, Xiaohongshu, Yellow, YY, Zhaoyou and more. The firm has offices in Beijing, San Francisco, Shanghai and Silicon Valley. Learn more at ggvc.com, @GGVCapital or GGVCapital on WeChat.