After working for 20 years as a creative director and then a principal in her own design firm, Susan Costa-Walston decided to take time to focus on her role as a single mom. She carefully balanced her life between part-time consulting, managing a home and raising her daughter. But she wanted a second career – one that held more meaning to her personally.
Costa-Walston’s inspiration came at a most unlikely time and place...on a plane in 2011 during a 17.5-hour flight to Africa for a vacation with her BFF and their daughters. Wearing compression socks for the entire flight, she soon discovered how something as simple as great socks could provide comfort and ease cramping often accompanied with long journeys.
When she returned home, she was determined to find compression socks that were effective, yet beautiful and fun. Much to her dismay, they did not exist – so Costa-Walston embarked on an arduous, yet rewarding journey to design, produce and market the first ever high-performance designer line of compression socks, specifically sourced and made in the United States for women everywhere. Lily Trotters were born. Utilizing her own creative skills and working with a dedicated North Carolina mill, she was able to successfully create five prototypes with colorful threads and sassy designs that would be suitable for nurses, doctors, long-haul travelers, marathon runners and fitness lovers, as well as women simply looking for better support and style.
Lily Trotters launched a Kickstarter campaign on July 14th, 2015 to raise funds for its first manufacturing run. It reached its funding goal in less than 7 hours – validating Susan’s instinct that there is a significant demand for fashionable athletic compression socks. Lily Trotters will remain available to pre-order with special savings through August 12th on Kickstarter; an e-tail store will open in Fall 2015 at lilytrotters.com.
What do you do best?
Anything creative. Whether dreaming up new designs for socks, developing fun and conceptual strategies to communicate about them – to solving a multitude of business challenges. Being able to think creatively allows me to see new opportunities in all situations that always lead to a solution.
What makes you the best?
Knowing that I am not the best! I have so much to learn, so I surround myself with awesome people who are much smarter than I am – and I listen to them. I embrace new ideas, while at the same time stay focused on my higher goals. And, I never compromise my values – in the case of Lily Trotters, I won’t compromise on beautiful design, quality-tested high-performance compression, and manufacturing in the USA. Oh, and I never give up.
How will you stay the best?
By staying focused on making a quality product to help people live better. By staying current with what consumers want and need. By continually pushing the envelope to try new things and not being afraid to “fail.” By listening and reacting to feedback from the audience I serve. By being open-minded and flexible. And by maintaining an attitude of gratitude – and always focusing on the positive.
What are your aspirations: business & personal?
Personal: To help my amazing teenage daughter follow her dreams. To do a dressage freestyle with my horse Ladybug. To sing the blues. To do one-armed push ups. To enjoy a life filled with friends, dogs and, hopefully, lots of grandchildren.
Business: To help compression go mainstream – where the norm is to wear knee socks (and other leg wear) that are both beautiful and high performing – so that all people can enjoy the benefits.
What fascinates you?
The laws of the universe and the power of thought.
I have two: 1. “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are probably right.” - Henry Ford 2. And like I always tell my daughter, “Make good choices.”
Personally, my daughter, my two BFFs and their daughters. And my amazing Lily Trotters team. More broadly speaking, Napoleon Hill who was so ahead of his time and whose words still inspire. Monty Roberts for his personal story and whose work is slowly making the world a better place for horses. Richard Branson, who embodies an attitude and spirit I would love to emulate.
Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage, Kenya Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Keys, Florida Assisi, Italy, New York, On top of my horse
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese from Whole Foods, Crispy Apples, Anything by Apple Shoes – especially Steve Madden and Miz Mooz
Making beautiful compression socks. Dressage training with my horse Ladybug. Strength and fitness training. Reading. Art collecting. Singing to my pets. Dancing like no one’s watching in my house. Laughing with my beautiful daughter until our sides hurt.