Susan Feldman

One Kings LaneLos Angeles, CAPhoto & Story by Lauri LevenfeldMakeup & Hair by Glamsquad
This is a story of how your passions in life can lead to the most revolutionary ideas in business. Susan Feldman, a proclaimed “hunter & gatherer,” came up with the idea of a lifetime in One Kings Lane. And with the help of her savvy partner Ali Pincus, their brainchild became one of the most sought-after flash sale sites for unique home products and has evolved into an omni-channel business with design studios in NYC and San Francisco. Recently, One Kings Lane was sold to Bed Bath and Beyond. Feldman, a serial entrepreneur with a joie de vivre spirit, talks to TPFW about how her passion led to her idea, which led to her dream of traveling the world and bringing the most sought-after products back to her customer. This is a story for every business creative who has ever dreamed of following a similar course.
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1. What were you like as a child? Who are you today?
As a child I was outgoing, adapted easily to new situations, competitive, and always wanted to make everyone happy. These qualities were the result of my family moving 8 times before I graduated high school. I also was a left/right brain person. I loved math and at the same time was very creative. I don’t think much has changed. These qualities still describe who I am today. As an adult I look like a highly motivated over achieving individual that sees opportunities, identifies them, and makes something happen. I am very passionate about what I am involved in.


2. Describe your life’s work.
Personally, my life’s work has been about my family. It is absolutely my number one priority. Family trumps all else. Professionally, I think my journey has been about finding roles that fostered my passion for business where I was able to use both my left /right brain. I was able to find those type of situations for most of my career in large corporations. Fortunately for me, when my career journey could have stopped, it really began with the launch of One Kings Lane. This was the ultimate of having an idea – a dream – and seeing it come to life. One Kings Lane is also family to me. The people that work there, the customers, the vendors, are all so much a part of what have made it successful. I think I may have one more venture in me before I hang it up and travel. Only time will tell.


3. Where did you hone your master hunter/gatherer skills? How has your eye translated to the ultimate dream job?

I actually think that being a hunter/gather is in my DNA. I have always gravitated to art and beautiful things. My dad was a retailer and as they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Starting in high school I started working at a department store and continue all the way through college. When I graduated I chose retailing as a profession. I spent the majority of my career in the fashion apparel industry. As time went on I grew more and more interested in the home space. When I couldn’t find what I wanted online I created One Kings Lane. Our job was to find and bring the most interesting product to the site for our customers. After we were up and running, I thought wouldn’t it be fun to also travel the world and bring back unique products. As they say, be careful what you wish for. Over the course of a few years I did just that …I went shopping wherever I thought there was interesting product that I could bring back to our customers at One Kings Lane. I went to India, Morocco, Italy, Belgium, France, England, Mexico, China, Turkey, and Peru. Definitely the best job ever.


4. Travel is essential to your inspiration. What else have you gained from your journeys?
Travel is a wonderful way to gain perspective on your life when see how others live. If you ever thought you had it tough take a trip to India. As challenging as life can be for so many there they are the kindest, most giving people. They believe in karma. What you put out to the world comes back to you. I know my life is rich in so many ways, but traveling around the world has given me a whole new perspective on just how lucky I am.

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5. Describe a day in the life for you.
Every day is really different. We have an office in NYC and San Francisco so I spend a lot of my time commuting from between the two. The joke is when people ask me where my office is I tell them it is on American Airlines. If I am in LA, where I live, I always start my day early somewhere between 5am and 5:30am. I don’t need much sleep and I am a morning person. I get up and exercise. I try to get to Soul Cycle 3 days a week. The other days I walk or go to other classes. After working out I start calls and video conferences with people on the team and vendors. I find lunch a great time to meet with people. Often it is a vendor, designer, or an entrepreneur. The rest of the day is about more calls. When NYC shuts down, it is a good time for me to get caught up on emails and other work. Dinner is typically with my husband. If we are home I try to make dinner. I love cooking and we both appreciate a home-cooked meal because we both travel so much. And then so to bed….


6. How do you define love?

Love is tough to define. Love is something that makes you feel great …most of the time. It is shared emotions. It is a feeling that allows you to go places and do things that you might not otherwise. It is a feeling that overcomes you so that you are willing to take risks and do things for those you love. What I do know is when you find love take a moment and appreciate it. It is a something special and something to cherish.


7. You are a mother to three kids. How has this translated to mentoring your team or other women in your world?
I realized as my kids were growing up that the best thing I could do was to give them the tools to be successful. As much as I would have loved to have done it all for them, they would have to fend for themselves. I think the same is true for all the talented individuals at One Kings Lane. My job is to help set them up for success. I need to give them the tools whether it be training, emotional support, experiences, and challenges that will prepare them to make the right decisions in their roles.

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8. What makes a successful partnership? How did you find yours?
I don’t think there is magic formula for a successful partnership. What I do know is you have to work at it like you would any important relationship in your life. There are of course some things that can help make the relationship work.

What has worked so well for Ali and me is that we complement each other in so many ways. This made such a difference especially when we were starting One Kings Lane. If Ali was working on something I knew it was being taken care of and I could focus on another task.

I also believe that being a good listener definitely adds to a more productive partnership. It is so important to hear what your partner is saying and feeling. I have found often that when Ali and I weren’t aligned that discussing it led ultimately to a better solution. This also means making sure that you air your grievances. Holding back doesn’t do any good. It is way better to discuss what is bothering you, figure out how to resolve it, and move on.

Lastly, but definitely very important, is keeping your sense of humor. This really can’t be underestimated. If you can’t laugh, then what is the point of all of it?

Ali and I found each other in a very modern way. We were introduced by Lisa Stone, co-founder of via email. I had shared my idea to do One Kings Lane with Lisa and she asked how can I help? I told her I was looking for a business partner with digital marketing experience. She said she thought she knew of someone and would make an introduction. Six weeks from that first email Ali and I formed our LLC and we were off and running. 

It was a huge leap of faith but it worked. I have been very fortunate. I have had 2 amazing blind dates the resulted in fantastic partners… my husband Bob, and Ali Pincus.


9. What was your biggest curveball? Your biggest surprise?
Biggest curveball was moving eight times before I graduated high school. The toughest one was the last move at the end of my junior year in high school which made it my third high school in four years. Initially I was mad, and didn’t even want to make an effort to adapt. I soon realized that the only person that was miserable was me. Once I figured that out, I jumped in and made an effort and thoroughly enjoyed my senior year. It made me realize that wherever you are, it is important to make the best of it.

Biggest surprise – When One Kings Lane launched I was totally surprised at how fast it took off. It was the height of the recession and we didn’t even know if anyone would show up. Well, lots of people showed up, and we were off and running. We never looked back.


10. You are a big proponent of women, what charities or organizations do you align with/ support?
I am a huge proponent of women. I think that it is important to pay it forward so whenever I can be helpful to another female entrepreneur I make myself available. I also have been part of a mentoring group for the past 4 years that Liberty Media sponsors called WeCN (Women’s Ecommerce Network) .

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2 thoughts on “Susan Feldman

  1. I can not say enough wonderful things about Susan. I know her as a friend and a business associate and she truly is an unbelievable human being. She lives her life to the fullest with the belief in karma. She is a great inspiration to us all.

  2. Susan, greatest business leader I ever had the pleasure to work with. I always considered her my business partner and she was the greatest teacher I ever had!
    Awesome family and a great friend!

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