Editor’s note: For our annual Women in Business issue, we invited women in our local business communities to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina.
Lisa Genevieve Ziemer is the CEO of VaVaVooom.
Xpress: What piece of advice do you wish you’d been told prior to launching your business?
Ziemer: How difficult it would be to originate a business that did not follow a typical tried-and-true formula. My previous businesses were basically “cut and paste” — both in industrial staffing and in-home care, which were fairly formulaic operations. When we launched in 2008, this endeavor was radically different from the norm at that time, both in concept and presentation — a lovely boutique based on a traditionally feminine aesthetic but with highly curated intimate toys and sexy, high-quality lingerie.
How do you feel women in leadership experience their roles differently today than they may have in the past?
My leadership role in my family or in my previous 22 years of business was essentially in a support capacity to my ex-partner/husband. It was more in line with traditional social expectations than being a single female owner. Maybe it is because of who I am. Not so much the role, but leadership is challenging for me. I tend to be collaboratively minded, but that is not what is generally expected [in business], so relationships can be more complex than I had experienced with a masculine presence at the forefront of the business.
What is your most memorable experience as a business owner, and what have you learned from it?
Working with so many different individuals of various ages, genders, political inclinations, life histories and educational backgrounds has accelerated my personal growth. In many ways, VaVaVooom has been a support system for not only clients but for staff to reconcile their own deeper personal and sexual quandaries. In this arena of human sexuality, so much is still being learned and finally talked about openly. I am incredibly proud of what the current and past staff members at VaVaVooom have brought to this community and grateful for all they have taught me.