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mazi + zo
Lizzy started mazi + zo in 2019. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on mazi + zo?
I’ve always loved fashion and design. I started my career as a PR intern for Marc Jacobs, and I moved to merchandise at Guess Jeans back when Guess Jeans were the height of casual cool. The fashion biz, however, was a lot less business-like back then. My desire for a different kind of challenge led me to a (way too) early-stage e-commerce venture at Time Warner where I learned a ton, most of all that I like getting in at the start and seeing the direct results of my efforts.
I’ve worked in startups ever since. I have 25+ years of experience as a team member, founder, investor, and advisor. I’ve steered mostly clear of the fashion industry, but I’ve maintained a serious side habit all along and I’ve had tons of unrealized business ideas drawn from my love for fashion and styling. I think it’s because both make me feel like my best self. That’s the vibe I hope to share with my customers.
In 2018, as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Brand New Matter considering “what’s next?”, I knew I wanted back in on fashion in some way or another. With a design partner, I developed a perfect, premium white tee for busty women (motivation: personal pain point!) The challenges of today’s apparel business were a turnoff, though: carbon footprint, fast fashion, body image. So I switched gears (though I’ve got some great designs and branding if anyone else wants to take it on!)
Back to scrolling Instagram for inspo, I discovered a ton of style influencers rocking $200 sorority hoodies, sorority water bottles, sorority sunnies (you get the idea,) but not sorority jewelry. I quickly realized why: the major sorority vendors are selling the same stodgy jewelry today that they did when I was in college, and it wasn’t cool then! New companies have popped up since, but they’re selling trendy cheapo jewelry (like turn-your-neck-green cheapo.) There are a lot of options, but nothing high-quality and modern enough to match these customers’ style.
This got me thinking: many business people trivialize sorority women (think Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and I’ve often received genuinely surprised “You were in a sorority??” in response to my disclosing that fact,) but we’re some of the most successful women in many categories. Just look at RBG, Toni Morrison, Sara Blakely, and Kamala Harris! (And for the record, Elle was accepted to Harvard Law.) Could I build a high-quality brand that respects today’s smart, stylish sorority women while indulging in my love of fashion and design?
The idea checked the boxes: large market, clearly defined customer, an opportunity to spread a positive message, and I’d get to work with shiny things.
Thanks to relatively conservative financial planning (I say “relative” because my dress collection might indicate otherwise,) I was ok risking $15,000 on the initial product and brand development and market testing.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater