2021 Honorees

Stephanie Lavaggi

Art Director

“Hiring real talent, giving clear directives, and maintaining a unified vision allows for more trust and less micromanaging.”

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I am the Art Director (and first full-time employee) at CUUP, a direct-to-consumer intimates startup that launched in 2018 devoted to providing womxn with supportive, modern, comfortable bras and underwear!

As the Art Director, I am responsible for defining and developing the CUUP visual identity via seasonal campaigns, social media content and strategy, advertising (digital, OOH, OTT, social), and website direction and imagery. I aim to be the “gut check” for the brand, ensuring CUUP never loses its visual-storytelling magic.

How would you describe yourself?

It’s always so difficult to describe oneself, but here are a few key tidbits about me:

  1. I was born and raised in Los Angeles but recently moved to Brooklyn via NYC, Philly and Austin!
  2. When it comes to my work and CUUP, I am slightly obsessive… which is definitely my greatest strength and weakness.
  3. I am lucky to be a balance of left and right-brained: extremely organized but equally as creative. My dad is an artist and my mom is fully business-minded which helped.
  4. I love working with and celebrating womxn, contributing to a palpable cultural shift, and telling their stories to the world. Nothing in my life has ever been more fulfilling!
  5. Key words: Motivated. Attentive. Curious. Creative. Driven.


What is your leadership style?

Good leadership requires decisiveness, clarity in vision and direction, strong communication skills with any personality type, and the ability to give your team inspiration and space to create.

As we’ve built the CUUP creative team, we’ve been able to hand-select incredibly talented women to help elevate CUUP to the next level. Hiring real talent, giving clear directives, and maintaining a unified vision allows for more trust and less micromanaging. I always aim to build a close work and personal relationship with each person on my team (the goal is total telepathy, ha ha).

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

I see my professional successes as a stepladder more than any individual event that got me somewhere. From graduating early and starting my career at a very young age, to relocating from LA to Philly (mid-winter brr!) to art direct at Free People for a few years, to then moving to New York and launching CUUP. Each of these experiences formed who I am today and where I am in my career!

All that being said, being part of the ideation, crafting, direction, launching, and execution of CUUP has been a life-changing experience. To see this magical little thing start as an idea, then turn into a product, then form an identity, then launching that out into the world and seeing how people react… it was really incredible to be a part of! And here we are 2+ years later supporting so many women. Very excited to see what’s ahead!

Pattern art Pattern art

What goals do you have for 2021?

  1. Make more space to be creative away from a screen – it’s so easy to let the blue light take over your life. I’m aiming to find a better balance this year.
  2. Start a gratitude journal listing a few things a day I’m thankful for! I’ve heard this helps so many people and definitely want to give it a try.
  3. Read more books and watch less TV.
  4. Explore Brooklyn!
  5. Get vaccinated and start seeing friends IRL again.
  6. Travel? Maybe? TBD?
  7. Develop and grow CUUP even further (and launching some exciting new products).

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

2020 showed everyone how important it is to have a strong D2C business. Now, I think it’s about pushing designs, interactivity, and experience even further. Brands and sites need to act as brick and mortar retail shopping once did – provide a full experience for your audience that they don’t want to leave/want to come back to soon. Creating a world for them to live in. It’s about making it more of an experience and less procedural in my opinion!

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

The Arrivals! I am a sucker for their visual direction and product. I just love the way they blend good UI/UX design with elevated fashion. That’s something I am always thinking about with CUUP.

What do you geek out over?

Dogs. Video games. Fonts. Text being centered. Seth Rogen. Bravo. The Instagram algorithm. Boobs.