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Female Founders: Talla Kuperman of Love Talla On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Take action, no matter how messy it looks. I had no clue what I was doing when I left corporate life and started my own company, but messy action became my battle cry. Just take that first step, and then another. My first step was telling people about my idea and seeing their reaction to it. Some were positive, some were negative, and all of it was the beginning of my diligence.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Talla Kuperman.

Talla Kuperman had a vision of wearing a gorgeous necklace that tells the story of the two souls that have left the most profound imprint on her life: the fingerprint of her brother who she lost to cancer 10 years ago, as a daily reminder of the message he left behind as his legacy to love her life, and a fingerprint of her spunky little daughter, to remind her for whom she is living her life. In 2021, Love Talla was born.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

From a very young age I was incredibly drawn to fashion design but unfortunately, I was not able to pursue my dreams, reasons for which I will explain in a bit. I am also a first-generation immigrant and as is typical with a lot of immigrant families, my parents established their own business when we first moved to the U.S., so I am not a stranger to the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

My sophomore year in high school, with much apprehension, I approached my mother and told her that I wanted to pursue fashion design at FIDM in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, my passion did not fit within my mother’s ideal life that she had dreamed about for me so I did what I thought would appease her and I pursued a degree in Biochemistry at UCSD. I always loved math and science so it was not a complete sacrifice, but biochemistry didn’t set my heart aflutter like fashion design did.

I worked within the realm of my degree for 15 years before marrying the man of my dreams, becoming a mother, and having the privilege of becoming a stay-at-home mom. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to walk away from a six-figure, corporate career but I always knew that being a stay-at-home mom was not going to be 100% fulfilling for me. I had dreams and I was not willing to ignore them any longer.

It was the pandemic that was the catalyst for me to pursue my design dreams. Early in the pandemic I was really triggered by the massive loss of life that was occurring worldwide. Seeing families lose their loved ones reminded me of my own grief of losing my brother to cancer 10 years ago. I really missed feeling a physical connection to my brother Amir, so I sought out to find a beautiful fingerprint necklace to be able to have a daily reminder of the incredible impact he left on my life. I wanted a necklace that was stylish, elegant, and versatile. Something I could wear day or night. When I came up empty handed it ignited the idea of creating my own line of necklace pendants to share with those who are yearning to have a unique, meaningful, stylish piece of forever jewelry representing love, loss, or just simple human connection.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Four days after I launched Love Talla, the e-commerce platform that I had my storefront on swiftly shut me down. To my customers, it was business as usual. I would see orders streaming in but on my side, access to anything financial was completely frozen. Apparently, this platform doesn’t often see such massive interest in brand new storefronts, so they froze access to all of my funds and only after multiple emails, phone calls, and a full investigation that took over 3.5 weeks did they rest assured that I was in fact not laundering money and just had a really great business idea that launched at the most perfect time. If I was the kind of business that required funds to replenish inventory right away, which a lot of businesses are, I would be dead on arrival.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I felt like I needed to be all the things all at once. I was the designer, website auditor, bookkeeper, fulfillment center, customer service, etc. and on top of all of it I needed to get exposure so I was also the publicist. How hard could it be I thought? I drafted a concise but impactful email that a publicist would send out and pushed send to my first recipient at a major national magazine. Since that went so smoothly, I just went ahead and copy-pasted the same email about 30 more times to the rest of the contacts I had gathered online. I didn’t realize this before I became an entrepreneur, but you tend to sleep very little when launching your own business. Well due to my sleep deprivation, I completely forgot that the first email I sent out was very personalized and only relevant to the first recipient that received it, yet the 30 totally unrelated recipients received the same personalization. I felt my cheeks get super flushed and was absolutely mortified with myself. Normally I would beat myself up over a mistake like this, but I took a minute to dig a hole and bury myself in it and then I brushed it off, laughed at it and moved on. From that funny mistake I learned that a) you can’t wear all the hats and do everything well, and b) there is a reason why PR professionals exist, and they are worth their weight in gold. There should be a c) where I tell myself to get more sleep but that hasn’t happened yet.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

This is a really hard question to answer because it truly takes a village to achieve even the smallest of things let alone success. I hopped from a stressful career in Risk Analysis for large insurance companies to an even more stressful career, motherhood, and then I set out to launch a business in an industry which I knew very little about. I have a friend whom I met many years ago at a women’s empowerment retreat who I found to be incredibly inspiring. She had a strong background in high end jewelry (Harry Winston, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels) and now runs an incredibly successful business as a diamond ring concierge called Miss Diamond Ring. She is the epitome of “girls supporting girls” and I knew I had to share my business idea with her and beg her for guidance on how to go about navigating the convoluted and complex jewelry industry. I’m so grateful for the time she carved out to help me. Without her guidance, education, and her letters of recommendation to wholesalers I don’t think I would have been able to launch Love Talla with the scalability potential and the speed that I did.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

There is a lot to unpack regarding why only 20% of funded companies have women founders, but I will share the main things that held me back. They are the fear of failure and imposter syndrome. The thought of stepping out of my comfort zone and building something from the ground up that I did not know with certainty was going to be a success is/was frightening and if I am going to be honest, I have never really felt like I belonged wherever I was, whether it was in my career or in my entrepreneurial journey. These two things that almost held me back are the products of how I was raised as well as how society has treated me as a female.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

There is so much that we can do as individuals, I think it starts with how we parent our children. I have the incredible privilege of raising a daughter in this world and here are the things that I have started to do around my toddler: I use the word “fail” all the time and I try to not use the word “perfect”.

I aim to show my daughter that I try things and I fail. I talk about it openly, I learn from it, I brush it off, and I try again and again. My goal is to deflate the word fail from the power it has to incite fear. I want failure to become something we discuss at the dinner table every night, dissect, learn, laugh off and strategize on how to do something else that may lead to yet another fail and that is ok. I want my child to grow up knowing that a life without constant failure is kind of boring.

I also don’t want to transfer my perfectionist mentality on to my daughter. I want her to be messy and wild and know that she is worthy of everything she receives by just being true to herself. I want her to try new things and not worry about everything lining up perfectly because that is just not realistic and it sets up a mindset that is highly damaging in every realm whether it is your own business, career, or your home life.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

First, let us establish that women are amazing. The way the female brain works is a thing of wonder. Women can identify problems and offer solutions in very unique ways because we see things from a perspective that our male counterparts may not necessarily have. This female perspective is highly valuable and can lead to business ideas that can be revolutionary and leave a very impactful legacy. I think more females should become founders because of this superpower we have. Imagine what an incredible world we could create if we fostered more women founders.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

I think there needs to be a whole lot more conversation around the sacrifices that a female founder will have to make when she strikes out on her own. Recently my e-commerce platform sent out an article about how more women are starting their own businesses vs. pursuing the 9–5 career path because they want to have more time to spend with their family. I usually don’t take the time (or don’t have the time) to read these articles but something about the title of it and the fact that I was feverishly working away at my business into the wee hours of the night really caught my sleep-deprived attention. I read the article and found it to be lacking reality. I felt that it sets women up to believe a myth that having your own business means you will be working less than 8 hours a day, when starting your own business means you are working all your waking hours and sometimes in your dreams. I will admit though that I do find I have more time to spend with my daughter, so the article was accurate in that manner, but I will be the first to admit that I am not always totally present during that time. I am constantly thinking about something related to my business while playing with her. I also have had to sacrifice my sleep in order to maximize my time to build Love Talla while not sacrificing the time I spend with my child. I don’t want to miss out on the time I have to spend with my daughter but the work will not get done by anyone else, so something has to give and for me that something is sleep.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Everyone has the ability to come up with a good business idea but when it comes down to it, dreams are free. It is the folks who are totally delusional about the success of their idea; absolutely obsessed with creating a business, willing to take the risks, make the sacrifices, put in the work and capital to create something amazing from nothing, who are the ones who are cut out to be founders. Not every person has this kind of risk appetite and that is totally fine. At the end of the day, your happiness is all that matters. For me my happiness came from creating the Love Talla fingerprint concept and sharing it with the world.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Obsessive Belief: Become absolutely obsessed with your idea. Dig deep and do your due diligence so that you can make educated decisions throughout your journey. I am definitely not the first fingerprint jewelry concept in the marketplace but I like to think I am the most stylish, elegant, and the most transparent ordering process.
    — During my search for a beautiful fingerprint necklace, I identified a gap in the marketplace for stylish fingerprint jewelry as well as an easier ordering process. Most of the pendants that existed were very gaudy and generally not my style. The process of how to purchase, obtain, and send the fingerprint was incredibly confusing and quite murky. I could not stop thinking about the hundreds of different fingerprint necklace designs that would look gorgeous decorated with the loops, whorls and arches of a unique fingerprint and how simple it would be to invest in a bit of technology to make the ordering process easier for customers. I became obsessed and somewhat delusional because I felt like every woman would absolutely love to dedicate a piece of jewelry like this to someone she loves.
  2. Greet your fears and carry them with you, especially the fear of failure. I decided to acknowledge my fears, invite them in, and allow them to be a part of my journey. I knew I might not totally conquer my fears, but I could deflate them of their power to hold me back from fulfilling my dreams. I remember, late one night in the end of March, when I pushed the “go live” button on my website www.lovetalla.com. I was practically hyperventilating with fear but I pushed that button and I am so glad I did because even if I do eventually fail, it was worth facing my fears.
  3. Take action, no matter how messy it looks. I had no clue what I was doing when I left corporate life and started my own company, but messy action became my battle cry. Just take that first step, and then another. My first step was telling people about my idea and seeing their reaction to it. Some were positive, some were negative, and all of it was the beginning of my diligence.
  4. Find a community of female founders to support you. They have been through the same situations, the same battles, the same defeats and the same victories through their life just like you. Also, there is nothing like the power of a group of women lifting each other up. There is no limit to what this collective group can accomplish. I met my first “mompreneur” friend on the playground during the pandemic. I had instant friend chemistry with Roxy and our children were the same age, so it was a match made in heaven. During our second hangout session I shared with her that I have this dream that I have become obsessed with and that was to launch Love Talla. As soon as I shared my business idea with her she looked at me with complete disbelief and told me she is actually launching her own business, Dominic & Dempsey, A cruelty-free, cactus leather children’s boot line. It is incredible what your energy attracts in the universe. Roxy and I launched our businesses at the same time. We have been through similar ups and downs and it has been godsend to have someone to share this experience with.
  5. Start small but think big. You may be small potatoes when you first start but eventually you will grow to be a behemoth. Pre-plan for scalability and automation so that you can buy back time to do the things that only a founder can do for their business. Love Talla was never going to be just a small business or a side hustle and I never designed it to be that. From the very beginning I invested in knowledge and technology so that I could scale this business to massive proportions. That may be a pie in the sky dream at this point but when the people become familiar with the concept of Love Talla fingerprint pendants and see the same magic that I see in owning one, I know I have already put everything in place to be a major player.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My fingerprint pendants provide people with a stylish, elegant, and unique way to feel connected to their most loved beings. I provide joy to my customers whether that is the mom who wears her children’s fingerprints to feel more connected to them while she is at work, or the daughter who recently lost her mother to Covid and wants a meaningful piece of jewelry to represent the incredible impact she had on her life. Then there are the dog moms who love their little fur babies so much that they want to wear their little paw prints or nose prints as a dedication to their unconditional love. All these stories have one thing in common. They bring joy to people and that makes the world a better place. I have also donated many necklaces to fundraising events for charities that interest me and I am always looking for partnerships with people doing amazing things in this world. For example, I am in talks with an incredibly strong mom who has a child with rare and complex health complications. You can read more about Gwen, her non-profit Gwendolyn’s Gifts on her website: Gwendolyn’s Gifts — Make a Difference Today for Someone Who’s Fighting for their Tomorrow (gwendolynsgifts.org) and Instagram @gwendolyns_gifts. Gwen’s mom was originally my customer and I started to get to know her and her family and become familiar with her non-profit organization’s mission to provide emotional and financial support to families with children on palliative and hospice care. I want to use proceeds from Love Talla fingerprint pendants to help people like Gwen and her family raise money for their causes.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am all about female empowerment and girls supporting girls. I would love to create a fingerprint pendant from the fingerprint of a woman who left an incredible impact on the world. Imagine this… your daughter/niece/cousin is graduating high school and going off to college and you give her the gift of a Love Talla fingerprint pendant featuring the fingerprint of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You tell her to wear it as a sign of how powerful one small, but fierce woman can be and the incredible impact we can leave behind as our legacy. A reminder to your special girl to leave this world a better place than what it was when she entered it. I think that would be so cool. I would design the RBG Campaign to then give a portion of the proceeds from the pendants to a charity that stands up for human rights, inclusion, and female empowerment. A charity that would make the Notorious RBG incredibly proud looking down at us from heaven.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Other than Jane or James Ginsburg to talk to them about my dream to do a RBG Pendant dedicated to their mom, I would love to meet with Guy Raz from the podcast “How I Built This.” First, I would love to get on his radar and pitch myself for his podcast. Second, I would love to be able to thank him in person for creating the podcast. Every day for 3 months I would throw my toddler into my Bob jogger, put on my headphones, and listen to his most recent episode. The ones that inspired me the most were the female founders he interviewed. With every episode, I built up more and more confidence and became inspired to start something amazing myself. After every episode I would tell myself…if she can do it, I can do it! I would love the chance to thank Guy in person one day for giving me, and what I imagine is a multitude of women, the gusto to go down the path less traveled.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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