December Recap 2022

by Kaylee Franklin 

Well, we are finally here and have reached the last week of the year, and that brings our final monthly recap: December! It’s been a long 12 months that have also flown by, and it feels incredible to say we’ve released 52 episodes this year with 52 amazing guests who’ve shared their inspiring stories to becoming the CEO of their brand. Thank you to all 52 guests, and here’s our recap of the final four. Happy New Year!

1. Keen on Kitchens

To begin the last month of the year, in the first week of December we had Eunice Byun, Co-Founder and CEO of Material.

Eunice talked about how she grew up in San Diego with parents who owned a Chinese restaurant, how she started out working for the school newspaper at Northwestern University, why she invested heavily in PR from day one after launching Material, what she did early on to build the brand, and why it's important to align on what success looks like with investors in order to filter for the right ones.

She also shared why cultivating early relationships is important to help grow influencer marketing, and why she believes building capital ebbs and flows.

Best piece of advice:

“The speed of growth can really undermine the quality of growth.”

To hear more of Eunice’s great advice tune in to Episode 135, and be sure to check out our product review on Material!

2. Finding the Fun

In the second week of December, we got to hear from Hailey Swartz, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Actual Veggies.

Hailey chatted about her childhood growing up in California, running cross country and biking in the mountains, to working on the advertising team for her school newspaper at the University of Michigan, to working at a startup where she realized that work can actually be fun. She talks about how she met her Co-Founder in 2020, why they decided to launch Actual Veggies on QVC of all places, and how she fundraised a $4M seed round during Covid over Zoom.

Best piece of advice:

“Trying something new and just doing something is really important. I see people get scared of how they start and I think just actually putting one foot forward really helps.”

To hear more of Hailey’s great advice tune in to Episode 136! 

3. Entrepreneurship and Efficacy

On the third Tuesday of December, we had the inspiring Liz Whitman, Founder & CEO of Exponent Beauty.

Liz spoke about what it was like growing up in New York City as an only child, to building an apparel business with a friend before earning her MBA, to working for American Express and Beauty Bar, to building her second startup Manicube which was acquired by The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden.

She also shared some of the most challenging things she’s had to overcome in building Exponent, how she built herself a community of founders, what keeps her going through the tough times, and what specific skill sets she thinks makes a great Founder.

Best piece of advice:

“Being true to why you're doing it. That has to be your north star when times are tough and they will be tough. This is not glamorous at all. There're ups and downs all around”

Don’t forget to hear more about Liz’s story in Episode 137, and learn more about Exponent in our product review!

4. Resilience by a Thousand Band-Aids

Closing out the final week of the year we had Sahand Dilmaghani, Founder and CEO of Terra Kaffe!

Sahand shares how moving to Berlin to work for a startup changed his life, how he came up with the idea to build a new coffee machine, and why luck comes to those who are prepared to receive it.

He also gave insight into navigating being an early-stage founder, as well as a reminder that even in the losses, you have to remember to celebrate the wins.

 Best piece of advice: 

“​​It can feel like a barrage at times, as you're just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. But doing that in a clear, calm, collected headspace is incredibly valuable. It also speaks volumes to third parties that look at you and how you operate as a business.”

If you’d like to learn more about Sahand and Terra Kaffe, tune in to his episode, number 138.

Get Up and Get Going

Throughout the month of December, there was a lot of great advice given but in listening to the episodes, you begin to hear a common thread to get up, get going, and continue putting one foot in front of the other. Doing what it takes to continue to build and grow. 

This Month: January 

Stay tuned throughout January to hear from amazing CEOs such as:

  • Steven Izen, Founder & CEO of Elements & Lokai
  • Emily Griffith, Founder & CEO of Lil Bucks
  • Tero Isokauppila, Founder & CEO of Four Sigmatic
  • MaryRuth Ghiyam, Founder & CEO of MaryRuth Organics
  • Blake Sorenson, Founder & CEO of Blake's Seed Based

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, follow us on Spotify, or tune in wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Have any guest suggestions, comments, or questions about Stairway to CEO? Drop us a line here!

Kaylee Franklin


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