Cate Luzio is the founder and CEO of Luminary, New York City’s leading collaboration space for women and women-identified. At Luminary, Luzio invests in women while empowering them in the workforce.
Keeping women in the workforce is important to Luzio. Luzio and her team at Luminary work together to create a space where women across many industries can expand their professional development and networks.
For three years in a row, American Banker recognized Luzio on their Top 25 Women to Watch. She has over 20 years of experience in financial services and she hopes to use her expertise to help guide other women with the community and platform Luminary has become.
Luminary is a female-focused and forward-looking company that ultimately ensures you “We Are in This Together”.
You have over 20 years of experience in financial services, how did your past experience lead you to start your own company?
My past experience really led me to start Luminary. I spent many years in senior leadership roles, building and growing global teams, and managing large P&Ls.
Most of my free time was devoted to developing, coaching and mentoring talent, women in particular. I had a seat at the table and wanted to do more for women across all industries, so I decided to create a space for it.
What services does Luminary provide to women and women-identified?
Luminary is a collaboration hub for women and women-identified who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks. We are reimagining a space for women with an emphasis on investing in self-development, wellness, flexibility, and giving back. Members have access to a vibrant space and a vast ecosystem of services, offerings, and perks.
In addition to curated content, programming, and events, Luminary offers over 15,000 square feet of space in Nomad. Luminary’s amenities include an open co-working space, a beauty bar, locker room, fitness studio, showers, an abundance of meeting and conference rooms, meditation rooms, lactation rooms, as well as free wine on tap and coffee. Our rooftop bar and terrace will open early this summer.
What was the hardest part about building your company and how did you overcome those barriers?
The hardest part was making the decision to do it. I left a decades-long career in finance to create, self-fund, curate, and open our doors in less than 8 months. The emotional roller coaster of leaving an executive level career to launch my own company was tough.
There were highs and lows and, ultimately, the stability was gone. Whether you self-fund or raise money, it’s all on you. Though it was a huge responsibility, it was worth it. Surrounding myself with a support network was critical and one of the reasons I started the “Female Founders Support Group” at Luminary.
What do memberships with Luminary provide to their members that they wouldn’t have access to without one?
First, all of the workshops, programs, and events are free for Members. There are no hidden costs. Members are invited first to our intimate, curated events.
Second, you have real access to amazing women – not only our Members but our speakers, senior female leaders in our Office Hours program, facilitators, partner networks, corporate members, and partner communities (women’s spaces around the country).
Third, we know how busy you are, so not only do we want to be your career advocate, we want to be your home away from home.
In addition to the amenities listed above, our fitness studio offers daily express classes and our beauty bar is partnered with Glam & Go to provide on-the-go blow-outs.
What is the future of Luminary? What services do you hope to add or expand on? We are very focused on building our community here in New York.
We will be adding more services, such as recruitment and referrals, new curated events and series, as well as additional programming and coaching services. We are a “member-supported community,” so our goal is to tap into our own ecosystem and support our Members’ businesses as much as possible, from food and wine to delivering content and services.
On your site, your bio describes you as “an advocate for gender parity.” It goes on to say you’re “committed to leveraging [your] voice to empower women and girls.” Can you elaborate on this vision and how you hope to accomplish it?
I left a great career in finance to focus on advancing women across all industries, ages, and backgrounds. Already, women are placed into too many buckets like senior/C-level, millennial, creative, entrepreneur, and corporate.
We need to focus on all women, so we can raise each other up, learn from one another, and advance. Luminary provides the much-needed cross-pollination that doesn’t exist today.
My commitment to women’s empowerment starts with our girls. It’s why I am passionate about my role on the National Board of Girls Inc., helping to develop the next generation of future female leaders.
What advice would you give to women who are intimidated to take the leap into the business world
You just have to do it. I had no finance or business background when I went into banking. I saw an opportunity to learn and challenge myself and thought, “what’s the worst that can happen?”
I knew I had to listen, learn, and work hard all the time. You need to start early and build your network as well as your group of mentors, both senior and peer, and find a sponsor early. Ask questions, even the hard ones, and ask for feedback and be ready for the answers.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No matter what you do, be yourself. People know those who are authentic and those who are not. Always be prepared and execute.
Take risks and open yourself up to new opportunities. Continue to listen and learn; you’ll make mistakes but you’ll get back up, learn, and walk it off.