Out On Top 2006

Inspired by near-death experience, powerful mothers, chocolate chip cookies, vibrant colors and the Welsh military, the out women behind ten successful businesses are proving that entrepreneurship is a combination of savvy, coincidence, and inexhaustible passion. Presenting the power of ten lesbian-run businesses out on top and rising.

Liv’n Out Loud!: Alyson Bruu and Kristine Fichera

There is cultish appreciation shared by the customers of Liv’n Out Loud! clothing. In their free time, they go to the website to share their own personal “Liv’n Out Loud” stories—escaping from abuse, overcoming a disease, taking a spontaneous trip and more. It’s a phenomenon the co-founders and partners, Alyson Bruu and Kristine Fichera, both marvel at and welcome as they run the company from their 218-year-old renovated farmhouse in New Hampshire.

“There’s this very palpable heartbeat in Liv’n Out Loud that you don’t really find in any other line,” says Fichera, 47.

The intense feeling surrounding Livn’ Out Loud! can be attributed to its founding. In 2004, Bruu, a former Madison Avenue ad exec, suffered hemorrhaging during routine surgery. After several hours and five blood transfusions, doctors nearly accepted that Bruu would die. Finally, after moving Bruu to a standing position, doctors found the source of the bleeding, saving her life.

“Kristine and I just went back and forth for three months—why did I go through this? What is the meaning of life?” Bruu says.

In 2005, still reeling from Alyson’s near death experience, the couple went on vacation in New Hamphire’s stunning White Mountains. Once there, they came upon a comfortable piece of clothing, made of simple cotton.

“I said, Kris, you know, maybe we should start a company using this clothing, because this clothing is outrageous!” Bruu explains. Fichera responded immediately with a company name: Livn’ Out Loud, and the two brainstormed a business plan. “The whole thing culminated inside of an hour,” says Bruu. “We knew exactly what we were going to do within one hour.”

Since that hour, Livn’ Out Loud has gained thousands of customers, spots on talk shows and magazines, and an endorsement from Alec Baldwin.

“If you can just really enjoy your life and live it for you—respectfully—you feel lighter. The world doesn’t seem so heavy,” Bruu says.

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