- Michelle Cordeiro Grant launched Lively in 2016 and sold it three years later for $105 million.
- Now she’s launching an energy-drink brand and using the lessons she learned at her first company.
- Transferable skills, communities, and mentors have helped with her second act, she said.
After working as a director and senior merchant at Victoria’s Secret, Michelle Cordeiro Grant launched her own lingerie brand, Lively, in 2016.
Lively focused on what women wanted in lingerie, and the community-forward nature of the business allowed it to grow, she told Insider. In 2019, she sold the company for $105 million and left her role as CEO. After that, she was ready to create something new.
“Nobody talks about the fact that it’s OK to graduate at some point,” Cordeiro Grant said. “You have to think about your company — ‘me, Michelle’ — what does that company need?”
On January 11, Cordeiro Grant launched the energy-drink startup Gorgie in hopes of creating a wellness product that filled the void of female voices in the energy-beverage industry, she said.
Insider spoke with Cordeiro Grant about her transition from bras to beverages and the lessons, tools, and people she’s taking with her for her next venture.
This is an as-told-to story based on an interview with Cordeiro Grant that has been edited for length and clarity.
Finding opportunities from communities
In 2019, I decided to sell Lively. It came to a point where my personal goals were not aligned with the goals of the company.
Shortly after the sale, COVID-19 hit and changed everything for me. I started paying attention to my body and my health. I started drinking the right things, eating the right things, and doing the right things.
I wanted to share that newfound love for health with others, so I surveyed my community to better understand their interests. The most important thing a new founder can do is actively ask their community what they want. That can then inform the product, brand experiences, and messaging.
Community has always been a crucial part to my businesses: Lively was a brand built by community and grew through genuine human connections with our customers.
This time around, as I tinkered with which wellness products would be most wanted, my community kept bringing me back to drinks, so I created Gorgie.
Community remains the cornerstone of Cordeiro Grant’s businesses.
courtesy of Gorgie
Tap existing skills and networks
It’s been much easier to build a brand the second time around. The transferable experiences I gained with my first company have helped me pivot.
A lot of the strategic steps and thinking are the same, no matter the founder or industry: You want to build a product, make sure it’s vetted, and create a high-quality and trusted brand.
In order to create this energy drink, I went to the same warehouse that Lively used. I also relied on the people who had supported me in the past. When I decided to fundraise, I went to those who were good to me when building Lively. Basically, my entire Lively board invested in Gorgie because they’d seen my past work ethic and proven success.
Tools and skills can also be transferable. For instance, I’m an expert in building and launching direct-to-consumer sites on Shopify. And I know how to create viral loops, or a continuous referral-and-growth strategy, for launch campaigns — but that took me months to perfect the first time. With Gorgie, I moved on all cylinders at once to transform the brand from idea to launch in less than eight months.
Lean into mentorship and today’s consumer habits
Events like yacht days and disco parties have consumers flocking to the Gorgie website to sign up.
I stumbled upon Web3 at Art Basel in 2021. I saw communities being built around it and a change from “Web 2.0 marketing,” like Instagram and Facebook, to new tech communities like TikTok and Web3.
Today’s best marketing strategies are about creating those communities and getting people involved. That’s why we launched a campaign on our website where visitors are prompted to input their email in exchange for potential free products, disco parties, and yacht experiences.
I’ve also continued to ask questions, particularly to male mentors. There are very few women in this industry; the way I’ve been able to find my footing is by accessing male mentors who are now pushing me forward.
It’s not enough for us women to have C-suite roles, it’s time we own the companies. An important step to owning companies in these industries is by having male allies and mentors.