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Stairway to CEO

Dec 19, 2018

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Stairway to CEO podcast, I’m your host Lee Greene and today I spoke with Katie Johnson, the Co-Founder & CEO of Carbon38. Carbon38 is a luxury activewear brand and online retailer featuring a curated selection of activewear designers. Katie shares her story about how she went from working as a professional broadway dancer to building Carbon38 into a hundred million dollar company that sells activewear from over 250 brands and employs nearly 100 people. She talks about how she learned to bring out her inner alpha while working as a fitness instructor, how moments of crying in the shower can lead to pushing through boundaries she never thought she could, and how a vision setting workshop in LA helped her create her 5 year vision for the future, which has already begun to unfold.


In This Episode You'll Hear About:

  • How a very young Katie leveraged seasonal Cherry Blossom tourism in her native Washington DC to create a flourishing lemonade-stand business.
  • How she learned to out-alpha a room full of alpha women.
  • How working a room is like performance art.
  • Something unexpected that Katie has in common with Sheryl Sandberg
  • Why getting very specific about your vision for the future is essential.
  • The importance of having soul and spirit as a brand.
  • Why going IPO is not her metric for success.
  • How Katie sees her position as a CEO as a means to a greater end and why she’s in it for the long haul.
  • How she raised capital and created a partnership with Foot Locker.
  • Why you shouldn’t listen to naysayers and doomsdayers.


To Find Out More:



“I think being an artist and being an entrepreneur are exactly the same thing.”

“I put my needle on that record (vision of future success), and I’ve been playing that record in the back of my head and it’s infiltrated all of my decisions since then.”

“I’ve never been allowed in my upbringing, or in my own character, to feel hopeless. I’m an off-the-charts optimist and there’s always a solution.”

“It’s not final until you’re dead, and even then there are negotiations.”

“The bigger I can be, the bigger Carbon can be, the more opportunity we can create, the more ability we have to shape, and that is such a gift and an opportunity.”

“Anything is possible, you’ve just gotta be smart, be scrappy and get your head in the game.”

“Ignorance is such a gift when you’re trying to start something.”

“Have fun. If you’re not having fun, pivot only have one life.”