Female Founder: Dora Lau, DLI, Reveals the Secret to Staying Positive in Challenging Times
Just a quick browse through your news feed or a quick look on Facebook and you will see that challenges are all around us. Some days it feels like a huge hurdle to stay positive. Finding entrepreneurs that are able to maintain a positive mindset are more likely to succeed and find new opportunities. Entrepreneur Online published an interesting piece about “learning to rewire your brain to focus on the positive, and you’ll find yourself and your business achieving the success you’ve been hoping for.” Staying positive is good for your health too. According to the Mayo Clinic, “positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health.”
To find inspiration for staying positive, I looked to Dora Lau, founder and president of Dora L. International, a global full-service intimate apparel company known for solution driven innovation. She works with some of the world’s largest and well-known lingerie brands, and it’s more than likely your favorite bra was developed by Dora’s team.
I was lucky enough to spend a few moments with Dora to ask her how she is staying positive in these challenging business times. We chatted about her insights to help those of us who could use words of wisdom to achieve new dreams. A benefit of being in business for several decades is that it gives perspective to the ups and downs of historical cycles and unique events.
In New York we are 100+ days into dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, you are based in Los Angeles, how did you start to deal with servicing gloabl clients in this new environment?
We have offices around the world, including in Asia and Europe. When COVID-19 was going through various stages in each of our locations, I realized that it was more important than ever to communicate to our internal team and to clients that we have a singular vision. It is a drive for innovation that is leading us to new opportunities, even in challenging times. Once we put our safety plans in order and adjusted our working environments, the senior team really focused on our ability to be flexible and innovative. This is powered by our couture attitude, meaning that we customize solutions. In this case, we really needed to customize how we can all work together seamlessly and in the least stressful way. Also, we had to fully articulate to clients what has made us unique throughout every challenge to maintain business and relationships as partners in a common goal.
How do you stay positive in terms of your business outlook?
For some time, the retail industry has been in flux with stores closing, new brands starting and stopping, deep discounting challenges, and more. It’s the best feeling to find solutions to trends in the marketplace and create products that are popular with the consumer and sell well. Early on, the DLI team learned that “Fit for Purpose” was going to be major driver for creating excitement in the marketplace. This means that every design, detail, fit, and functionality has to serve a purpose for what our clients and the ultimate consumer wants. We know that this can only be done through technical data gathering and testing to ensure that exciting products truly meet the demands of shoppers. The rewards from this hard work and seeing its success keep us positive for what the future holds.
Do you have a mantra that keeps you positive?
Yes! I’ve always said that “Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can wear.” It’s true for what we are all going through now. If we think we can do it, the better our chances of success. We have to visualize our goal, write it down, repeat it as often as necessary, and have a mindset to keep us confident. Over the years, I have interviewed and fit hundreds of women from around the world. It’s amazing what a great bra or a favorite dress can do to an attitude and confidence. We are all going to have days that are harder than others, but I truly believe that practicing a mindset of positivity and confidence will bring success. It will also help you make smarter decisions!
I’ve heard you say that you take a “couture attitude”. What is the meaning behind it?
I began my career creating couture gowns. My parents had a thriving music business and I was the stylist for the talent. Finding the right look was one challenge, but it was the realization that the right bra or shapewear took the look to another level. That’s what sparked my interest in the lingerie industry. When I founded DLI, I realized that the same efforts that went into a couture gown were needed in intimates including multiple fit models, the highest levels of quality, and understanding how fabrics can be used to enhance the way a person feels. Every intimate apparel garment needs to satisfy the function and understand how it performs on the person that wears it.
Is your “couture attitude” changing in the current environment?
We are constantly shopping the globe to study innovation and are looking for new ideas that customers can use to bring more value to customers. When we search the market for what is missing, what we find is a new level of excitement that can be brought to the market. Our couture-attitude allows us to filter out what is missing and what brings value to customers. Now we do this virtually. Interestingly, even though there is social distancing and we are not able to meet as we once did in person, strong relationships, both personal and in business are getting stronger as we rely on each other more.
How else are you staying positive?
Being around positive people helps you stay positive. No mission can be achieved without the right talent to implement it. This means pulling highly knowledgeable talent from around the world. Even the most sophisticated cities will not be able to provide all the talent needed to keep product development ahead of the trends. The best talent should be hired regardless of geographic location. At DLI, our global headquarters are in Los Angeles. Our global talent works in sync from Hong Kong, China, United Kingdom, Australia, and our design studio in Maine. What is the best way to hire top global talent? Companies can best achieve this through a careful balance of work/life and having the flexibility to meet the needs of staff member who are also looking for balance and a flexible schedule. When teams can be with their family and do a great job at work, they are happy. When they are happy, they are positive, and their attitude spreads to others. It’s like a “couture schedule”! I’m also a firm believer that exercise helps you relieve stress and helps you keep a positive attitude.
Any other words of advice?
In times that are constantly changing, and often uncertain, let’s look to the foundation of our original energy and passion as a path to meeting the future with positive energy and excitement. By staying true to our roots, we are able to satisfy our existing customers’ needs and remain on a solid footing.