Lisa Sun, CEO & Founder of GRAVITAS, is making it her mission to catalyze confidence through size-inclusive fashion. Read on to learn about her story, professional advice, and her part in changing the future of fashion.
Sun spent 11 years at McKinsey & Company where she advised leading luxury, fashion, and beauty brands globally on strategic and operational issues. Sun has always had a passion for style and for helping people look and feel their best, having been a size 22, a size 8, and now proudly a size 12. At every size and age, she has found creative ways to show off her style, having been named one of Washingtonian Magazine‘s Best Dressed Women. Sun graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with distinction in Biology and Political Science.
Founder & CEO of GRAVITAS, a company whose origin story dates back to Sun’s first professional review: that she “lacked gravitas” and “should go buy a new dress, big jewelry, and great shoes.” Realizing the transformative power that clothing can have, Sun secured the patent on building shapewear into dresses and launched GRAVITAS as a Confidence Company.
Continue to offer innovative apparel and styling solutions designed to give every woman a confident sense of self.
In my first professional review, I was told I “lacked gravitas” and “should go buy a new dress, big jewelry, and great shoes.” My mentor said I should wake up every morning seeing the best in myself, and a great dress was like Dumbo’s flying feather. Dumbo never needed it, but it helped him believe in himself.
And if gravitas is about what you wear and how it makes you feel, I was inspired to create clothing that can do it all. We now expect so much out of products. I call them “beautiful contradictions,” like comfy stilettos, slimming yoga pants, BB creams that do 10 things, responsibly made products that also give back. So every one of our products is a combination of fashion and function.
On top of that, we are size-inclusive. I’ve been a size 22, a size 8, and now a size 12, and I’ve listened to friends and colleagues talk about what they wish their clothes could do for them, so I was inspired to create pieces that truly flatter fit and enhance every woman’s best features.
Ultimately, our mission is to Catalyze Confidence.
ARMOIRE X GRAVITAS COLLABORATION
When we are little girls and are asked to go shopping, we feel such joy. But from adolescence on, every woman (myself included), walks into a dressing room feeling like they’re going to fail. How many times have we taken items into a dressing room and walked out with nothing? I believe we need to bring joy back to the dressing experience. I love that Armoire is like a personal Clothing Whisperer, helping women reclaim the dressing experience by renting clothes.
FAVORITE STYLE TIPS
I’m a fan of the “chameleon & conversation starter” philosophy:
- Chameleons: We only wear 20% of our closets, so find a few MVPs in that 20% that really fits you and can be a chameleon in your closet. That is, they’re canvases that can be styled so many different ways. Once you find an MVP, I always try to figure out 3-5 ways to wear it every month.
- Conversation Starters: I always have a few pieces I know I’ll get compliments on. It’Qs always easy to start a conversation when you’re receiving a compliment on your outfit! Somehow, people feel comfortable coming up to you when they are obsessed with your cape blazer!
GET SH*T DONE MODE
Headphones in. Blocked out time on the calendar to power through stuff. No one distracting me.
BOSS LADY INSPIRATION
My mother is the ultimate tiger mom. If there was an annual Tiger Mom of The Year award, I know she would apply to win it every year, or she would wave a flag and lead the charge at The Tiger Mom parade. She thought Amy Chua’s book was written about her (“See, I was right, she write book about ME!”). The day after I decided to start the company, I had 10 emails in my inbox from my lawyer, accountant, business manager all saying, “Your mom emailed me last night and said I need to help you start your company.” When I asked her what she had done the night before, she said, “You not have guts. I have guts. I go on the internet and start company last night!” FYI – she is a serially successful entrepreneur, who came to this country with nothing.
THE FUTURE OF FASHION
I’m proud we are playing our part in two major trends – size-inclusivity and functional innovation. Not only do we fit to a variety of body types and sizes 0-24W, we recently launched Life Labels, where we are taking the stigma out of the size of the label and labeling our garments based on the size of your life. And I believe the industry is going to integrate more and more functionality into products, because consumers are demanding it.
My advice to professional women is two sides to the same coin:
- Feedback is a gift. Our company was founded on a piece of feedback I received. And what I always like to ask is, “What is 1 thing I could do better?” Because part of mastering feedback is knowing how to ask it. If you just say, can I have feedback, the answer is usually, you’re doing fine, just keep doing it. When you ask what’s 1 thing I can do better, it gives someone a chance to truly coach and you can master 1 thing at a time.
- Pay yourself a compliment. At the same time, have self-awareness about what you’re the best at in the world. We all have at least a few superpowers we need to embrace. We’re the hardest on ourselves, so paying ourselves a compliment is a real hurdle to tackle in life.