Maternity maven Liz Lange began her career as an assistant to a features editor at Vogue, but it never felt like the right fit. After meeting a struggling clothing designer, she caught the fashion bug, and begged him to let her apprentice. “I still didn’t have any intention of starting my own line,” she says. That is, until she saw her pregnant friends squeezing into regular clothes and became obsessed with an idea to create maternity fashions that were cuter, tighter, and stretchier than what was on the market.
First came her high-end line (loved by celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker) and several boutiques, then a wildly successful marriage with Target. Having sold her company for a reported $50 million in 2007, her newest ‘babies’ are a non-maternity line for HSN called Completely Me, and a shopping newsletter with her sister called Shopafrolic. “I’ve never written a business plan for anything I’ve done,” Liz says. “For me, it’s very organic—jumping on new opportunities that come my way.” Below, more work and life secrets from the designer and mom of two.
Currently reading: “My friend Alexandra Lebenthal’s fantastic page turner The Recessionistas and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (the CEO of Zappos.com).”
Must-have make-up item: Laura Mercier bronzing gel. “I mix it with my moisturizer every morning to give my skin that tan, glowy look.”
On trusting yourself: “The first year of my business I was paralyzed. Some days I just lied in bed in a curled-up ball when I could have been getting things done! I was asking for validation instead of actually doing something—instead of just believing in my gut instinct and going forward.”
Can’t live without: Constant blow-outs. “My hair is my obsession and I just can’t do it myself. Embarrassing but true!”
Hiring m.o.: Passion matters more than a fancy resume. “One of my best employees ever was a girl who wrote me a very specific letter when she was still in college, describing her excitement for my brand and her experience working for a competitor. She started as an assistant, and was eventually our marketing director.”
Fave vacation spot(s): Palm Beach and the Mayan Riviera with the kids during the winter, Paris in the Spring, Capri in July
Holiday stay-slim secret: “All year long, I never just eat to eat; I only eat what I love. (Okay, and I work out with a personal trainer 3 times a week so that I can eat what I love!)”
Advice for recent grads: “Spend your twenties allowing yourself to try a lot of different things. If there’s some way you can focus on what you might love—something that doesn’t feel like work (at least not all the time)—chances are you’ll end up being very good at it and making money.”
Wish for the new year: Clarity and contentment