The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Erin Mehagan is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Erin Mehagan and like many entrepreneurs, my journey began as a frustrated consumer unable to find a solution to my problem… See, after multiple pregnancies and years of nursing, my house was full, my heart was full, but my bra was not. Big gaps suddenly appeared between my skin and my bra. But when I went down a bra size, I lost my shape, and felt self-conscious in my clothing. Nothing fit. Not my bras, not my shirts, not my dresses. Nothing. Throughout all my years of nursing I continually joked with my husband that the money we were saving on formula was going straight to my boob job. I even made an appointment and discussed the surgery with a plastic surgeon but ultimately, I couldn’t go through with it. The elective surgery seemed too drastic, too permanent and too expensive. Then I committed myself to positive thinking. I told myself to be proud of my body. It grew three humans and kept each one fed for their first year of life. And, yes, it is way cool my body did that, but I couldn't shake it. Why couldn't I feel proud of my body and confident in a tank top?? I felt backed into a corner forced to choose between drastic surgery or living with bras and clothes that didn’t fit. And I knew if I felt this way, other women did too. There had to be another way. That's why I started Livi Lu Lane. To empower women with accessible options that help them look the way they want, regardless of the size or shape of their breasts.
What did it take/how did you get started?
I was incredibly naïve when I started. I didn’t have a design, manufacturing, production, or supply chain background. I didn’t have contacts or influence in the industry. I didn’t have investors or lots of capital. But I had conviction and a deep desire to keep other women from experiencing the same body image spiral I went through. It’s what grounds me when things get tough. I remember the desperation I felt searching for something that could help me feel like myself again. It's why I work so hard. Because I know there are other women feeling the same way I did, searching for a solution.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible with this brand. Later this year we will launch our first collection with three different styles – underwire, wireless and bralette. In addition to adding more bra designs and styles, we also get a lot of requests for swimwear and see that as a major part of our future product portfolio. Along with tank tops, camisoles, lounge wear, athletic dresses, etc. Every design and style will include our signature internal pocket and the option to add shape.
What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?
Without a doubt it’s the opportunity to help women. I know what this design has done for my confidence, and I want to give that gift to other women who might be struggling like me. In every order I include a note card with a quote that says, “It’s one thing to tell her she is beautiful, but it’s another thing to make her feel it too.” That is our marching cry and north star. We’re not here to push some unrealistic beauty standard. Or make a woman feel she is less than and needs this product to look a certain way. Feeling beautiful is personal. It’s why I couldn’t shake my negative thoughts and feelings no matter how hard I tried. It’s why it didn’t matter how many times my husband told me I was beautiful or how many times I told myself, I didn’t FEEL beautiful. That’s what we’re here to do. Lift women up and help them feel beautiful.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Everything is harder, more complicated, and therefore slower than you think. It seems like every step forward; I uncover this big chasm of information I need to learn or more work that needs to be done. It can feel endless and very overwhelming. But don’t get discouraged. Stay in the ring and keep fighting. Remember why you are doing this work and keep going.
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
The mental load and never being able to “turn it off.” Previously in my career I did not appreciate the power of being able to stop work or not feel guilty when I take a moment for myself or tell my manager I’m overwhelmed, and my plate is too full. There is no work life balance. You are just one person. There is only figuring out what to focus on for that particular day and letting go of what you can’t accomplish.
How have you managed burnout thus far?
I have a fantastic support system where I can be vulnerable and share how I’m feeling. I don’t have to sugar coat it or pretend everything is great. My husband has been my biggest supporter and encourager since day one. He’ll listen when I need to vent and offer solutions when I’m stuck and at an impasse. I also have a great group of founders with companies at similar stages who I turn to in good times and tough times. You cannot survive as an entrepreneur without support – find your people!!
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
“How I Built This” by Guy Raz is a great podcast that offers insight into how someone started and grew their company. I’m so encouraged when I listen to their journey because you discover that no one ever really knew what they were doing. They jumped and figured it out along the way. Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” is a great book and an even better philosophy. Everything by Donald Miller is amazing. I’ve learned so much about marketing and running a business from him.
List the founders
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
Around 50-60 hours
# of Employees?
I am the only one working full-time on LLL but we're looking for people to join the team!
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
We're bootstrapped and self-funded to date.
We're still very early-stage with our Beta test but it's around $25k - $45k
$1M - $2M in the next 3 - 5 years
What's the #1 thing you need right now?
People who want to join our team who aren't motivated by a traditional compensation structure.