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Location: New York, NY
Founded: 2011
Industry: Fashion


Sarah Carson
Founder and President


Leota makes women’s fashion from stretchy, breathable knits. “As society changes and women have more access and responsibilities in public and private spheres, their taste is changing,” says founder and president Sarah Carson. “They need versatility and ease in their fashion options, and Leota offers that.” Another factor in Leota’s success has been its emphasis on producing locally. “Leota is living proof that it is possible to profitably mass-produce fashion domestically right here in New York,” says Carson. “Because of New York’s thriving Garment District, we could start small and test product before investing heavily in a style.”

Quick Tip: “A leader gives more than she receives. Leaders inspire people to improve, grow, try, change.”

Fashion has a particularly challenging cash cycle, as companies must develop and produce garments six to 12 months in advance of when they can be sold. “That means we have a pretty hefty bridge between when we buy inventory and sell inventory,” says Carson. “At one point during our most recent growth spurt, when we doubled again year over year, we didn’t have the cash to pay our factories, and they came to me saying, ‘Look, we need to pay our workers.’ Because we had a consistent track record of delivering on our word, our suppliers extended our terms, and our banks over-advanced us cash to get us through that growth. We continued to deliver flawlessly as demand skyrocketed because every member of our team — factories, our team, our banks — stepped up and executed.”