EP #79: Sarah Sukumaran – Former Nike Product Director Disrupting The Hypermasculine Sneaker Market With Her Female-Centric Brand Lilith

Sarah Sukumaran (@sarahsuku) is a former Nike Product Director who is now the CEO & Founder of Lilith NYC (@lilith.nyc), a female-centric sneaker brand looking to disrupt the hypermasculine multi-billion dollar sneaker market.

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.

Follow Sarah:
– LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahsukumaran/)

TAKE THE QUIZ – “What Type of Creator Are You?”**



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

Intro Music

Produced And Mixed By:
– The Tamil Creator
– Yanchan

Written By:
– Aravinthan Ehamparam
– Yanchan Rajmohan