I founded mazi + zo to celebrate women who make things happen, and one way to make things happen is to vote!
My first startup gig was as a founding sister of my college sorority chapter. Then, after a few years working in the traditional NYC fashion biz, I landed at Time Warner in the earliest days of e-commerce. This led to a 25+ year career in startups as a team member, founder, advisor and investor. In 2018, I was noodling on my next venture and came full circle when I recognized an opportunity in the sorority market: college women tend to care about style, but sorority jewelry hadn’t changed since I was a sister (and tbh, it was dated then.) As I researched my target market, these young women wowed me with their collective savvy, initiative, and social consciousness, and I got excited about developing jewelry for them that’s not only cool, but also reflects their ideals and potential.
I launched mazi + zo in fall of 2019 with licenses to design and sell sophisticated jewelry featuring sorority letters and symbols. We found immediate success in that market (yay!) and friends blew up my phone asking for their favorite symbols. It clicked: we tell our stories through jewelry. In January 2020, we expanded our collection and repositioned the company as a brand for women who make things happen. Our unique designs help women express their style through mixing stud and threader earrings and layering charm necklaces.
And then came COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and selling jewelry didn’t feel quite as relevant anymore. Like lots of people, I stepped back to consider how I could contribute to positive change in the world, and I kept coming back to voting as the most powerful thing we can do to stand up for our values. When I learned about When We All Vote, a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to increasing voter participation, I connected with the mission and wanted to contribute.
We designed a VOTE necklace based on our original sorority alphabet, launched it in early July, and began donating 35% of the selling price to When We All Vote (so you know, that’s all of our profit on this item.) Initial sales were strong, and the night Michelle Obama wore a VOTE necklace (another designer’s) for her DNC speech, we had more site traffic than we’d had in the first half of the year! Celebs like Megan Rapinoe, Kerry Washington, and Busy Phillips amping up the “register” message and I expect we’ll see record turnout this year, in spite of COVID concerns.
So why do I think it’s so important to vote? As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned to take advantage of every opportunity to pitch and I think of voting as pitching my values. It’s the ultimate opportunity to influence outcomes. On a personal level, voting makes me feel empowered and optimistic and I’m looking forward to November!
If you’d like to make a shiny statement *and* make a difference, please consider shopping for one (or two! Or three!) of our VOTE necklaces, priced from $72-216.
Customers are also buying our hashtag, Venus, and peacesymbols, and I’m thinking about what other stories we can help tell with mazi + zo. Please feel free to DM your ideas: @maziandzo. BTW, our jewelry is handmade in the USA using recycled 14k solid gold and pure .925 sterling silver so our customers feel good about that, too!
About The Author
Lizzy Klein is an NYC-based digital entrepreneur who caught the startup bug as a charter sister of Alpha Omicron Pi at Cornell University.