Lizzy Klein is a proven startup leader with a talent for scaling early-stage businesses and over 25 years, 3 IPOs, and 3 acquisitions, has been recognized for creating >$300mm in equity value at diverse companies including GrubHub, Everyday Health, and MSNBC. Lizzy started her career in fashion and her current business, mazi + zo, takes her back full circle to design and manufacturing in her adopted hometown, NYC. mazi + zo crafts effortless fine jewelry for people who value quality, elevated design, sustainably sourced materials, and local production.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in Columbia, MD, a planned city designed by James Rouse with a focus on community as well as racial and economic diversity. In Columbia, each of the neighborhoods takes its name from art and literature and I grew up in Hobbit’s Glen where all of the street names came from J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy (I grew up on Wood Elves Way and had friends on Willowbottom Drive and Tooks Way!) My parents were founding members of our temple in Columbia, so I had early insight into the rewards of building something from the ground up. As a kid, I didn’t necessarily recognize Columbia as a special place but now I recognize that Rouse’s ideals around community-building, particularly racial and religious inclusion, influenced my values.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
After growing up in a new city and a new temple, it wasn’t a surprise that when I participated in sorority recruitment at Cornell, I was more excited about the chance to become a charter member of a sorority that was returning to campus than I was about joining an established sorority that had everything figured out already. I think that was my first real taste of entrepreneurship. So after working for two years in fashion, ready for a new challenge, I landed at Time Warner’s very first, very early e-commerce venture. I loved getting in at the start and seeing the direct results of my efforts and I’ve worked in startups ever since. I have 25+ years of experience as a team member, founder, investor, and advisor.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Marketing is everything – mazi + zo designs beautiful jewelry that our customers adore, so I sort of assumed that every sale would lead to 10 “where did you get that necklace/those earrings?” word-of-mouth sales. “If you build it they will come,” right? Nope. I spend at least 70% of my time learning how to reach our customers through various channels when I’d much rather be creating with Dan. I am wildly uncomfortable creating TikTok content, but that seems to be one of our strongest drivers these days, so I suck it up! And while we haven’t yet broken through to the awareness level mazi + zo deserves, I recognize these are early days and I plan to continue prioritizing marketing ahead of new designs.