Sarah Sullivan

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Age || 38

Company Name || LIVELY

Job Title || Creative Director

Years Living In New York || 16 years

Social Handles || @scsullivan, @wearlively

Company Website || LIVELY

What did you want to be while growing up?

When I was a kid I wanted to be an oceanographer, a teacher, or a ballet dancer, but ever since junior high school, I wanted to be a designer.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you entered the intimates world?

No two boobs are the same.

How do you define success?

Success comes in all forms! Some days it’s getting the kids to school on time and making it to work a little early. I’m not sure how I would define it exactly, but I think it’s more of a feeling when you’ve accomplished what you set out for.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting out?

That things are always changing and evolving and that’s OK. Most good and bad situations pass or change, so being flexible and having a positive mindset is important.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

What made you interested in working at LIVELY?

I joined the LIVELY team in 2015, prior to the brand’s launch, and coming to LIVELY presented an opportunity to help develop a brand from scratch. It felt like we were throwing out stereotypical lingerie ideals and starting fresh. I was

excited to design products that women would feel good in, and to work with a brand that valued inclusivity and empowerment. Working at a startup was definitely interesting to me because it was an opportunity to take risks and create new norms.

How did your time at Aerie prepare you for your current role?

I learned a lot about the industry in general — about design, how production works, market trends and the business side of fashion. I worked with a lot of talented people and definitely grew as a designer. There are a lot of differences between working at a larger company and a startup, and I’m grateful I know both worlds.

Do you have a personal motto?

Not really. I just try to keep it real!

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Which women inspire you?

There are so many women that inspire me... My mother inspires me for her strength, kindness, and brilliance. This is even more meaningful now that I'm a mother myself. And my daughter, who is seven, reminds me to see the possibilities in everything and always makes me want to be my best self. Also, the women I encounter on a daily basis who are balancing being mothers, professionals, partners, friends, etc. all with grace and ease inspire me immensely.

How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?

I try to trust my gut in moments of doubt. I know that not everything has an absolute right or wrong answer so I try to remember that and listen to myself.

Can you tell us more about your men’s swimwear line-turned-record label?

S/S Friends is a project that my husband Sean and I worked on together. Basically, Sean couldn’t find a bathing suit he liked, so I designed something he would wear. We ended up producing a small run of our trunks, packaged them with a 7” record Sean made, and sold them at stores we liked in NYC and LA. S/S Friends still operates as a record label for my husband’s music.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the whole process of seeing a design go from an idea or drawing to an actual piece of clothing, then giving it a personality on photoshoots. Being part of all stages of this process is very rewarding.

What has been the most rewarding thing about working at an intimates startup?

I never imagined how a good-fitting bra could make someone feel. Seeing a note from a customer about how amazing our bras make them feel or how they’ve searched their whole life for a bra that was comfortable and made them feel good is really touching. It makes all the hard work that goes into each product worth it. Also, seeing LIVELY grow from an idea to a brand like this still blows me away.

How have you worked to keep female empowerment at the core of your work?

When designing, I’m thinking about how these pieces will be worn and my hope is that putting them on each day will make you feel good. It seems simplistic but wearing something that makes you feel good and confident is empowering.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

Courtesy of LIVELY.

What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?

If you are thinking of joining or creating a startup, I would definitely say it is both rewarding and extremely demanding. Being a creative at a startup, I’ve worked in many areas and do things I never knew I could do before joining LIVELY. I’ve learned so much, but at times it can be scary stepping into the unknown. It’s all worth it when you see it all come together.

What is your creative process like?

I spend lots of time observing. Whether it’s looking through old photography or sifting through vintage, or observing people walking down the streets of NYC, I may be inspired. When I’m designing, I love spending time sketching until I feel like it’s just right.

What are some of your goals moving forward at LIVELY and for you personally?

It’s amazing to see the fashion industry become aware of and embrace the need for sustainability, and I’m excited to explore this with LIVELY.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Sarah Fielding