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The Tamil Creator Podcast (EP #79): Sarah Sukumaran - Former Nike Product Director Disrupting The Hypermasculine Sneaker Market With Her Female-Centric Brand Lilith
"Sarah Sukumaran is a former Nike Product Director who is now the CEO & Founder of Lilith NYC, a female-centric sneaker brand looking to disrupt the hypermasculine multi-billion dollar sneaker market."
Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host ("The Tamil Creator")
Canada
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She joins Ara on this week’s episode of #TheTamilCreator to discuss working for Nike before starting her own company, the future of manufacturing (ie. 3-D printing, etc.), seeing a a gap in female footwear and using her house down payment funds to kickstart the business, her first product being inspired by a bird that is almost extinct in the Philippines, missing out on the chance to decode the human genome, and so much more.

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Timestamps

00:19 - Sarah’s return from Portugal, recovery from COVID, and New York post-pandemic
02:15 - Being obsessed with books, science, and basketball shoes from a young age
04:32 - Her career path was never linear; MedTech, consulting, marketing, and more
06:15 - The impact of education in Sarah’s career; the importance of time management
08:04 - Will she ever pursue her love of science? Tamil dads and dictionaries
09:43 - Having a strict dad, not getting to enjoy summer a kid, how she feels about it now
11:51 - Leaving a tech career to work for Nike as Director of Product; what she learned
16:01 - Nike waving her 18-month non-compete clause; operating with regret for 5 years
18:01 - Financially planning for leaving Nike to pursue entrepreneurship full-time
19:41 - The “entrepreneurial itch”; social commentary on her decision to start a business
21:06 - How Sarah came up with Lilith NYC, and building something she could sell
24:10 - Creating Lilith NYC’s first pair of shoes; starting with factories in China
27:21 - Leaving China due to geopolitics, COVID, etc.
28:49 - The future of manufacturing, current supply chain issues, and 3D printing
30:41 - Rolling out a pre-order model in January of 2021 without even having a sample ready
32:36 - Her marketing strategy to promote Lilith NYC; initially only having 300 followers
35:19 - Expanding from selling sneakers to also selling clothing (hoodies, beanies, etc.)
36:22 - Fundraising with plans to accelerate her business’ growth
40:59 - Her ultimate brand vision for Lilith NYC; will it become a media company?
42:33 - How Sarah found out about Founder Collective; what has been the impact?
45:13 - Advice for her fellow female Tamil entrepreneurs
45:30 - Advice she would give her 16-year-old self
46:17 - The personal legacy that Sarah wants to be remembered for by friends and family
46:38 - Creator Confessions
51:22 - The Wrap Up

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Ara Ehamparam
Co-founder & Podcast Host ("The Tamil Creator") | TamilCulture.com
Canada
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