How do you decide to toss aside one vision of your career for another one—especially when the new path is littered with failure? Lisa Hu’s journey into fashion entrepreneurship as a designer of high-end women’s handbags.
Hu, PMBA ’16, failed at least 40 times before succeeding. It’s as simple as that. The founder of Lux and Nyx, maker of handbags designed for “jet-setter luxury and boardroom quality,” had the idea in mind, and worked on it while ascending the corporate ladder. Yet she failed over and over to find the right manufacturer to execute the vision she had in her mind.
She tried doing it herself. She hired a seamstress. She looked at professional bagmakers—all the while, collecting prototypes that didn’t fill the bill. Mind you, all this was happening while she was still working as finance director for a large corporation. At some point, the process became unsustainable. The moment came. She had to make the leap. It was all or nothing for this handbag. She quit the corporate world in October 2017 and focused exclusively on Lux and Nyx.
In some ways, this is a story about being unwilling to compromise. She wasn’t fulfilled in the corporate world. She wasn’t satisfied with the first 40 prototypes for the bag she envisioned. That may be what she means when she says the pivotal moment was the moment when she found her “ultimate voice.” “It was never really about just bags—it was what the bag made possible,” she said. “It made possible an emerging community of rock-star women, moving fluidly through daily challenges with confidence.”
Cliff Holekamp, founder of Cultivation Capital, WashU Olin alum (MBA ’01) and former director of Olin’s entrepreneurship platform, lends professional perspective to a story that carries a lot of … well, a lot of baggage.
Listen to Hu’s story, coming July 13.