Meet Sarah Sukumaran
Our Bee & Kin Women Series features female dreamers and doers paving the way and pursuing their passions. This week, meet Sarah Sukumaran. She is the founder of Lilith NYC, a womxn’s footwear brand based in Queens, NY.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m the founder of Lilith NYC, a womxn’s footwear brand based in Queens, NY. I was previously the Director of Product at Nike and left my role earlier this year to work on Lilith full-time.
Despite not having a background in footwear development, I knew I had a compelling vision of what a footwear brand could be, a brand that provided space for womxn to explore and express their style, gender, and sexuality across a spectrum. So I set out to build my own table despite all the possible ups and downs of building a company during a pandemic.
Lilith NYC is very much about embracing our divine feminine energy, our Shakti, and recognizing a womxn’s agency to show up as they wish.
How did you end up in New York?
I was born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, NY! Left New York for 4 years for university, but quickly came back to NYC and haven’t left. I now reside in the Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst area! Queens has been quite central to the building of Lilith NYC; sneaker culture is Queens culture.
What is the best advice you've received? Or words that you live by?
A friend once told me, “when you follow your intuition, you’re always on time.” I find myself coming back to those words often, especially when I get caught up in the thoughts of not moving quick or fast enough as I build this year.
How have you been pivoting during the pandemic (personally or business wise)?
Oh gosh. There was a lot of pivoting early-on this year. We had set out to manufacture in China but quickly had to move to a factory in Europe. But as cases rose in Europe, we found ourselves back in China, once the factory was back up and running. Being able to quickly adapt and build out contingency plans was key.
Personally, I’m someone who is so accustomed to the fast-pace of startup life, so I had to really learn to “trust the process” when it came to brand and footwear development. I won’t lie, it’s hard, but I’m learning to let go and just go with the flow. We’re in a pandemic after all! :)
What's one unexpected thing that's helped you stay positive?
Like most others during quarantine, I’ve definitely had different forms of entertainment, especially in the early months. I went through a “digitize/scan my old photographs” phase and of course, the incessant baking of banana bread. I was also pleasantly surprised at how dedicated I was in using my Peloton and getting a daily workout which helped to manage stress.
Do you have any tips for staying creative/inspired while working from home?
I’m lucky to have a network of other womxn who are also building companies during this time. So it’s always nice to jump on a Zoom call to connect and share advice since we’re all at different stages of building.I also love listening to podcasts to learn from other folk’s journeys and watching indie films; a lot of indie theaters have made films available for streaming which is wonderful. My two favorite podcasts at the moment are First Generation Burden, which focuses on the intersection of immigrants and the creative community, hosted by Rich Tu and Soleil Spotlight, a podcast that highlights filmmakers and actors from the Global South, and it’s hosted by my friend Micha Cooper-Edwards and her colleague, Priya Shanmuganathan.