How one entrepreneur found success by leading with kindness

The first thing you’ll notice about Kalika Yap, founder and CEO of interactive design agency Citrus Studios, is her happiness is contagious.  Her happiness is central to every business venture, employee she hires or client she works with. It’s at the heart of Citrus Studios, demonstrated through its bright, open work environment and fun employee culture. Happiness is also at the very core of the company’s values, which includes “communicate kindly” and “make lemonade out of lemons.”

The idea of turning lemons into lemonade became a reality for Kalika at a time when she found herself unemployed and alone in a new state. After working in New York City as a journalist, Kalika moved to California in hopes of starting a new life. When her plans fell through, instead of giving up, she saw an opportunity to learn HTML and web design in the early days of the internet. These skills later led to the creation of Citrus Studios in 1999 – its name a nod to the figurative lemonade.

Today, Citrus Studios works with major brands, including Sephora, Hulu and Sony, to develop their websites, brand identities and more. Even with her company’s success, Kalika still emphasizes the importance of communicating kindly and has turned down deals with businesses that don’t adhere to Citrus Studio’s core values.

Not stopping with the success of her first venture, the serial entrepreneur has launched a variety of other businesses, including Luxe Link and The Waxing Co. With an insatiable need to help others, she’s also active in several philanthropic organizations, including serving as president-elect of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

To read more about Kalika, her journey to becoming a business owner and her philosophy of leading with kindness, download our 10 Under 10 eBook.

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