Strong Voices Interview #18: Marta Ludovici - CEO of LUVIYO
In this Strong Voices edition, we had the pleasure to talk to Marta Ludovici, CEO at LUVIVO.
She gave us great motivational advice on how to create a healthy work-life balance, combining the fast pace of everyday with a slower flow in mindfulness and self-care.
Marta Ludovici has been working for 15 years within the Fashion & Luxury industry - mainly in Italy and Switzerland - covering global roles of responsibility over EMEA, Middle East, Americas, and Asia-Pacific. She worked for top brands as Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren, Furla, Diesel. She moved 6 years ago to Zurich and continued her strong professional growth at Swarovski and MCM Worldwide. She got a University Degree in Modern Languages and International Economics in Italy, and she did part of her studies in France (Université Orléans). Marta fluently speaks 4 languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish) and she is perfecting her level of German as 5th language. She is certified as Yoga Teacher and Mental Aid First Aider, on the path to becoming Co-Active Coach and Gestalt Counselor.
Marta is CEO of LUVIYO as of May 2022.
“Take your time, slow down. Walk, instead of running. And don’t forget about yourself: your body and mind are the most important sources you need to take care of “ – Marta Ludovici
Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Marta. I am Italian and I was born in a small town close to Milan. I have been working in Fashion for 15 years mainly in Product Development, Merchandising and Buying for big international brands – with commercial focus on the Retail channel. Since May 2022, I am the CEO at LUVIYO.
As I became Yoga Teacher in 2019, I started to look for a perfect “meeting-point” between Fashion and Yoga. I knew LUVIYO already as a customer – indeed, I was a LUVIYO lover, seeing the brand in all yoga classes. This year, I met the two co-Founders and we immediately clicked – deciding to take this beautiful journey together.
You worked in the corporate world and now are the CEO of a Start-up. What were the biggest changes and challenges?
Many things change when you move from a corporate to a small startup environment. First, the size is different. You don't work anymore with hundreds of people and many different departments. In a start-up, you work with very few people. Here at LUVIYO we have just 3 employees. Limited resources in terms of team members, but still high expectations to deliver great results.
Another big difference is that we don't have a rigid hierarchy. You don’t need to wait long for approval of your managers to get to final decision and get things done. We have a very direct approach. If someone has an idea (no matter if a senior manager or an intern) it's just enough to raise your hand and share. We quickly validate and the process starts. Everything is much quicker than you would have in a big corporation.
As well, there is no politics. Everyone can talk to everyone. The seniority of the person doesn't really matter. For example, when I meet my Intern in social media - we are equal at the table. She shares with me her points of view. I share mine and we find the final decision together. I
This is not really happening in most big companies, unfortunately.
Last, at LUVIYO I have the chance of seeing many things, from A to Z. Before, I used to be focused only on my department (Buying & Merchandising) and of course, working with other corporate functions. Today I drive the company management at 360 degrees, leading all corporate functions as Product Development, Operations, Marketing, HR, Business Development. I cannot be an expert in all these areas, but I am very multitasking and curious. Learning new things is vital to me, so I love stretching my boundaries to new fields. It’s very much “learning by doing”, testing your flexibility and sense of adaptation to new situations.
What changed for you when you started doing Yoga on a frequent basis?
I started practicing yoga around 6 years ago when I moved to Zurich. Before, I was very much into Pilates, then slowly I got closer to the spiritual world and started attending my first yoga studio – where I became Yoga Teacher.
At the beginning, I was looking for a “happy place” to disconnect and be in a peaceful state of mind, far away from all the noise of the fast-paced Fashion business. My mind was always busy, never still and I feel like I was needing to cleanse after my long working days.
In the yoga studio, I found human beings that shared their energy with the community and were there for themselves. Without comparing to each other, yogis were in the room to feel their body and stay connected with their own soul. Everyone stayed “within”, looking at the emotions rising and feeling sensations in complete stillness. I learnt that when you drive your attention out the room and your mind is not experiencing total silence (e.g. being distracted by private topics), you run the risk of losing balance and hurt yourself.
I felt Yoga became “a need “in my life since then, and I could not live anymore without. Not only my body became more flexible and stronger: my thoughts were clearer and my heart lighter.
How can you keep a mindful attitude?
It’s almost impossible to keep the “Yoga feeling” every minute of your day. We all have ups and downs, things happening and unbalancing your mood.
I am a big fan of “good plans”. To make sure I am constant with my Yoga practice – I schedule “placeholders” in my agenda and try to stick to my weekly “wellbeing plan” with few exceptions.
Even if it’s hard sometimes to disconnect from work, I feel it’s so beneficial to be on the Yoga mat at the end of my day, to recharge the batteries and start the following day with lots of energy.
Many women struggle nowadays to "manage it all". What helps you when you feel overwhelmed? Do you have tips?
On top of Yoga, since a few months I practice Transcendental Meditation: I close my eyes for few minutes – even 5 minutes during lunch break or at the desk - and my mind gets cleansed, almost like a reset - recovering from the chaos of thoughts that I had before. I also try to keep up with my daily routine: sleeping 8 hours per night, eating healthy food, drinking water. It’s so important to respect these basic needs and reminding to take care of myself.
What advice would you give your younger self? What advice would you give women in general?
Say more “no” when needed, with kindness. Practice assertiveness. Pushing back with a polite explanation without feeling guilty, instead of always saying yes to everyone – especially to senior people in your working place.
Listen more to yourself and ask what you really need and want. Ask yourself: “Am I really true to myself?” more often. Be brave and take risks – especially when you change career after many years of doing the same job. It might be hard, but if you follow your intuitions, you will discover that your gut feeling and your heart are never wrong.
I would also say “ask for help” – which most women struggle to do at any age, as they are perfectionists and try to do everything alone with perfect results. There is no shame is showing your vulnerability to others, starting with our close circle – as partner, friends, and family: they’re more than happy to support us along the way.
Any wrap-up sentence you want to share?
Take your time, slow down.
Do one thing at a time.
And don’t forget about yourself: your body and mind are the most important sources you need to take care of. Without them you cannot do anything. Mental health is crucial and during pandemic we clearly saw how easy it is to fall sick. Walk, instead of running. You’re most important source of everything and you need to start from yourself to achieve anything you want.