Meet the Beauty Queen Who Won Miss Nevada, Then Launched Several Successful Startups
There are some people in the world who just seem to have the ability to do it all. One of these people is Lisa Song Sutton. Sutton is 2014’s Miss Nevada United States, a business executive, real estate broker, and now an entrepreneur.
Sutton, 31, was born in South Korea and moved to Arizona when she was five. Back then, her parents involved her in a variety of extracurricular activities.
“I played piano, the flute, I was in tap dance classes, ballet, gymnastics. I was in a lot of dance and fine arts. Of course as with most of the typical Asian upbringings, school and academia were extremely important. I always had my time filled outside of school with extracurricular activities, not only to keep myself as a well-rounded person, but to boost my resume and get into a great college and great grad school.”
Sutton got a degree in political science from the University of Arizona and a law degree from the University of Miami. Shortly after graduation, Sutton moved to Las Vegas and worked as the vice president of human resources at Atkinson & Associates P.C., a notable law firm in the city, and then as vice president of business development for SSK Holdings, Inc.
“I always wanted to excel and do well. There were a few times where I would get discouraged or unmotivated, but I’m thankful that I had parents who said, ‘Don’t give up, you’re going to finish this.’”
Sutton comes from a family of successful real estate investors and business owners. She received her real estate license early on and sold her first property when she was 18. When she was 19, she signed to a modeling agency in southern Florida. She’s been featured in Sports Illustrated, GQ, Maxim, and advertisements for Macy’s swimwear.
“Modeling started as a part-time thing when I was in school full-time. I had a lot of success with it. I was treating it like a job and I was always very polite and respectful to everyone that I worked with, whether it was makeup artists or production assistants or photographers or whomever. That helped a lot with longevity and building a good reputation within the industry, because there is a lot of flakiness that goes on, as you can imagine.”
Through modeling, Sutton met Danielle Michelle 10 years ago, a fellow model with whom she partnered to launch her first startup, Sin City Cupcakes.
“At the end of 2011, I was living in Las Vegas and Danielle was still living in Florida. We were catching up on the phone when she told me how she was making these alcohol-infused cupcakes for parties and friends and how popular they were. I said, ‘That would be a great idea for Las Vegas! If I can find a way to bankroll this, would you be willing to move out here to Las Vegas and start the company with me?’ At first she said no, but two weeks later she moved.”
The girls pooled together a total of $50,000 from their savings and launched the company in 2012. They rented a kitchen to make the cupcakes as well as a food truck built by Mercedes Benz, which was paid for via a loan from Sutton’s family.
Since then, the company has grown and served celebrity clients such as Chris Brown, Mrs. World Diane Denigris, and Adrienne Maloof From “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
“Everything is wonderful. We just finished our taxes in January for 2015 and saw a spike in revenue growth. Each year that we’ve been in business we’ve grown in revenue.”
The company has also expanded to 16 employees and has been landing a lot of wholesale accounts since the beginning of 2016. Sutton says that her company will be making more of an effort targeting businesses on top of selling directly to consumers.
Apart from continuing to model, Sutton also owns a real estate company, a bikini and lingerie company, and a marketing app that pairs small and medium-sized businesses with local and regional influencers. When asked how she juggles all these ventures at once, she said:
“The way that I am able to have my hand in so many different things is because I have partners in every single one of my companies. I’m not a sole owner or operator. Each of my respective partners work their position full-time. My real estate partner Devon does real estate full-time; he only does real estate. I have to team up with someone who is 100 percent committed to their role of working in the business full-time. That is definitely a large part of how I’m able to do everything.”
Sutton stresses the importance of having clear communication with your partner if you want your business to be successful.
“A lot of people say, ‘Don’t go into business with family or friends,’ but I think you totally can as long as everyone is on the same page. It’s very much like a marriage, a financial marriage with someone you go into business with. You have to be able to totally trust that person and vice/versa. You have to be able to communicate well which each other.”
Sutton is a part of so many ventures that she is sometimes asked what her main passion is.
“People always ask: ‘Cupcakes, real estate? It just seems so disjointed.” If you take a bird’s eye view and look at everything that I’m doing, at the end of the day I’m selling a product. Whether that product is a mansion or a cupcake, I’m selling you a product. For me, I know that I really enjoy working with people. I love being in a customer-oriented industry. I also want to be a part of something that is influential in the community and give back to the community. That’s why I do do a lot of community work and service. That was a large part of my time in Las Vegas as Miss Nevada. I did over 500 appearances in 18 months.”
Sutton shared words of wisdom for female entrepreneurs:
“Don’t be afraid or be intimidated if you are the only woman that sits at the table. I think it’s something that’s really important to remember. It’s something that is unfortunately still an uncommon trait. Don’t be scared to be the only woman there. Sometimes that is to your advantage.
“Don’t be catty with other women entrepreneurs. I find that unfortunately a lot of times women compete with other women, and it’s not supportive or empowering. So my advice to them is to be supportive and to be in that mindset that we’re all kind of it in together. So if we’re able to support each other in our endeavors, it’s only going to make your business better. You’re going to learn something new, have a new colleague by your side. It’s all just a win across the board if we support each other instead of tear each other down.”
Sutton’s latest project is a Cox Cable talk show focused on business, which she has already started filming.
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