SN 1 EP 6
Women Moving and Shaking in Male-dominated Sectors
Feat. Olivia Landau, CEO of The Clear Cut
One founder is disrupting the very traditional—and male-dominated—diamond industry with her unique approach to selling the world’s most coveted gem stone.
Olivia Landau is a fourth-generation jeweler, GIA Graduate Gemologist, and a veteran of Tiffany & Co. With Olivia’s background, there’s no question as to why her friends have always trusted her to help pick out their dream engagement rings.
Now, after founding The Clear Cut with her husband, Olivia’s shaking things up—not just with her direct-to-consumer business model, but also as a woman disrupting the diamond industry and reimagining the engagement ring purchasing process.
On this episode
Olivia talks with Katie and Jenny about:
- Her family’s initial reaction to her business
- How she differentiates herself from traditional jewelers
- How she overcame adversity and self-doubt
Editor’s Note: We’ve edited and condensed the questions and answers slightly for clarity.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to start working on The Clear Cut full-time?
I don’t think they took it very seriously until we got into the Techstars accelerator program.
I promised that if we got into the program, I would quit my job and we would dedicate ourselves to the business full-time—so that was a really difficult conversation.
It was over Thanksgiving when we found out we got into Techstars, and all of our families were together. I remember saying that I was going to start this business with my boyfriend—who I wasn’t married to or engaged to yet. I told my family that we were going to quit our jobs and not make any money, and we were going to try to create a dream start up that may or may not work out.
It was tough because I also had a good job and I had worked really hard to get to where I was. My family asked why I didn’t just continue with my business as a side hobby.
But I would have really regretted not pursuing the business. I justified it by saying I could always get another job, but this was a moment and an opportunity that I would forever regret if I didn’t try.
Did you know that you could bring something new to the table with your business?
Being a millennial woman really gave me an upper hand because I understand the client—I am the client. Everyone that was getting engaged at this time was my peer.
We grew up with online shopping, even for larger purchases. We’re comfortable navigating social media. We want as much education as possible to make informed purchases.
I understand the consumer really well because I am a consumer. I know how to talk to them. I know aesthetically what they’re looking for, and I know the type of experience they’re looking for.
That’s what gave us an upper hand compared to more old-school or traditional businesses.
How have you been met with adversity throughout your career?
In the beginning, it was hard because, for many of the people that I worked with, I was probably the same age as their daughter. And I didn’t have a ton of life or business experience compared to them.
But it’s a double-edged sword because it’s both an advantage and a disadvantage to be underestimated.
And now with the growth that we’ve seen and the business that we built with The Clear Cut, people are starting to gain respect and acknowledgment for our business. A lot of people that might have been wary of working with me or with the business now are trying to approach us to create partnerships.
In the beginning, I was also underestimating myself, which would lead to a lot of insecurity—I didn’t know if I believed in myself 100%.
But now when I’m faced with adversity, it fires me up and I want to prove people wrong. I want to work harder. And it motivates me more than anything.