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How Lauren built her expertise in brand strategy, innovation, marketing, media and tech.

Lauren Maillian is a change agent committed to diversity, innovation, equity, and inclusion. She’s an award-winning marketer, prolific investor, advisor, entrepreneur, and board member with a multi-hyphenate career spanning over 15 years. She advised and invested in over 40 startups and her portfolio represents over $5 billion in market capitalization.

Lauren is the CEO of digitalundivided, the leading nonprofit leveraging data, programs, and advocacy to catalyze economic growth for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs and innovators. The mission is to create a greater world in which all women of color own their work and worth. The former Board Chair of digitalundivided, Lauren took the helm to evolve and grow the organization to further support women of color entrepreneurs, especially in the wake of the racial reckoning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Bilingual in Spanish, Lauren continues to expand the reach of the organization’s mission and programs across the United States and its territories. 

She is continuing the legacy of the groundbreaking ProjectDiane research that has generated billions of media impressions globally for being the first-ever data report on the state of Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs in the United States. Lauren and the team are growing digitalundivided’s overall research capabilities to release more data reports and entrepreneurship insights annually. Lauren’s new partnership strategy secured support from over 20 brand partners including JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways, LinkedIn, American Express, Nasdaq, Amazon Web Services, Shopify, Gusto, Pine-Sol, Silicon Valley Bank, EY, and others. Her brand partnership vision inked a star-studded partnership with Cosmopolitan and Venus Williams to create the New C-Suite, a powerhouse list, and advancement program spotlighting BIPOC, women founders. She continues to grow digitalundivided’s national reach and impact, introducing several new programs including The Do You Fellowship and BREAKTHROUGH to create a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Lauren is a Senior Advisor for Pipeline Angels and an Investor and Advisor for Athena Consumer Acquisition Corp, the second all-women Athena SPAC (NYSE: ACAQ). Her board advisory also includes The Folklore (a luxury African fashion e-commerce company), Kroma Wellness (the innovative superfoods lifestyle brand) Ephemeral Tattoo (the made to fade self-expression company ), and Diem (a new social community focused on inclusive content and conversation for women). Lauren served on Walmart’s Board of Disruptors and Innovation Council and on the Board of Directors for technology company CoSign and the spirits brand, LIQS (which was acquired by E. & J. Gallo). 

With a deep understanding of consumer brands and culture, she is a serial entrepreneur of a number of ventures committed to brand building and investment. Lauren is also the Founder and CEO of LMB Group, a strategic marketing and advisory company partnering with brands like Cover Girl. She also started Straight Up and Successful, a women-focused community and professional development platform. A pioneer in the tech and funding space, Lauren was the first Black woman to start an early-stage venture capital fund, as a founding partner and managing director at Gen Y Capital Partners. At 19, Lauren became the youngest winery owner in the country, co-founding the internationally recognized Sugarleaf Vineyards.

Lauren is the co-host of CNBC’s one-hour special, The Unstoppables, profiling the world’s unstoppable entrepreneurs. She was also the first Lifestyle Expert on the Emmy-winning Tamron Hall Show and previously co-starred on Oxygen’s Quit Your Day Job, where she served as the Master Marketer and Investor. She is also the author of her best-selling memoir, The Path Redefined: Getting To the Top On Your Own Terms. Lauren has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Insider, CNN Business, Vogue Business, Fortune, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc., Essence, CNBC, MSNBC, and Black Enterprise among others. She was named to The 2020 Root 100 List of most influential African-Americans in business. She received the Empact 100 Award at the White House in 2011? and her work has been recognized by the Kauffman Foundation, Essence, and Walker’s Legacy. In 2014, The New York Urban League’s Young Professionals named Lauren Philanthropist of the Year. 

Lauren is on the Board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Engagement. She created The Collab art series, which uplifts the work of artists of color. She was also the Vice-Chair of The Apollo Theater Foundation’s Young Patrons Steering Committee, and a founding member of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science magna cum laude in international trade and marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

How Lauren started her entrepreneurial journey

1996: Started first lemonade stand

2001: Spent time living and modeling in Paris

2003: Spent time vacationing and ultimately working as a model in Buenos Aires, Argentina and quickly learned Spanish

2004: Returned to New York City and began collegiate studies at The Fashion Institute of Technology thinking she was going to launch a fashion brand​

2006: Decided to turn a successful grape-growing vineyard operation into a winery and began building and overseeing the construction of a winery and tasting room. She was also busy planning her wedding and got married that Spring

2007: Opened the winery and tasting room doors of Sugarleaf Vineyards to the public in August, graduated Magna Cum Laude from FIT with a Bachelors of Science in International Trade and Marketing in December and gave birth to her first child, a son, Jayden days after completing studies in December!

2009: Lauren had her second child, her mini-me, Chloe entered the world in September! Life as Lauren knew it suddenly changed; her marriage ended and she immediately became a single mother with 2 children under the age of 2.

2011: Was honored at The White House with an Empact100 Award by the Kauffman Foundation for being one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under 30 in the United States.

2011: Started Luxury Market Branding and became heavily involved in the technology, venture and startup communities as an advisor and investor. At the end of the year, Jeremy Johnson and Lauren started Gen Y Capital to invest in early stage consumer facing technology companies.

2012: Sugarleaf Vineyards was acquired; Lauren sold her interest in the business — her first major exit as an entrepreneur!

2013: Essence Magazine named me a “Shot Caller” to watch in business.

2014: Lauren’s book, The Path Redefined: Getting To The Top On Your Own Terms, was published by BenBella Books and became an instant best-selling business memoir.

2014: The New York Urban League’s Young Professionals awarded Lauren the honor of Philanthropist of the Year for her charitable involvement and dedication to giving back.

2015: Kia Motors and UPTOWN Magazine named Lauren as one of their Inspirationally Crafted entrepreneurs for her leadership and fearless entrepreneurial journey and Smart CEO Magazine honored Lauren as a 2015 Smart CEO Brava Award Winner.

2016: Lauren officially began her career in media, lending her business and marketing expertise on the new TV show, Quit Your Day Job that premiered on Oxygen (NBCU) March 30th 10p/9C

2019: Lauren was asked to join Walmart’s Board of Disruptors

2020: Lauren became the CEO of digitalundivided

2021: Lauren became the Lifestyle Expert on The Tamron Hall Show on ABC produced by Disney