PSFK is always in search of new and emerging perspectives, so in honor of International Women’s Day 2020, we turned to our community of women innovators for a roundup of fresh faces pioneering the leading edge of their sector. From banking to beauty and many industry verticals in between, the recommendations flooded in: Here are 29 leaders building a revolutionary new generation of business and services.
Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder & CEO, Ellevest
Setting out to eliminate the gender pay gap and help women to reach their financial and professional goals, Sally Krawcheck founded Ellevest as a by-women-for-women investment platform.
Abyah Wynn, Co-founder & Managing Director, Twenty65 Fund
A pioneer for women of color in venture capital, Abyah Wynn launched the Twenty65 Fund, a micro fund focused on investing in women, especially those of color, in 2019.
Lauren Simmons, Head of Brand, Lauren Simmons
At 22, Lauren Simmons became the youngest and only full-time female trader at the New York Stock Exchange, and only the second African American female trader within the Exchange’s history to hold that position. Now, the history maker serves as a women’s and youth personal finance expert.
Madison Maxey, Founder & CEO, LOOMIA
A pioneer within the textile industry, Madison Maxey founded LOOMIA, an e-textile company, that helps manufacturers incorporate soft circuit systems at scale, bringing heating, lighting and sensing to car seats, medical apparel, outdoor gear, and more.
Komal Ahmad, Founder & CEO, Copia
Komal Ahmad pivoted from her med school plans to tackle food waste and hunger, launching the for-profit technology company Copia to help businesses distribute excess food to those who need it.
Arlyne Simon, Data Scientist, Intel
As an engineer, author, inventor and entrepreneur, Arlyne promotes STEAM as well as female pursuit of the fields, with a focus on building next-generation tech capable of advancing medicine.
Paksy Plackis-Cheng, Founder, impactmania
Paksy is a filmmaker, author and influencer, founding global program development firm impactmania.com to connect communities and support projects that drive cultural, social, and economic impact
Eve Epstein, Editor-In-Chief, Hunker
As Editor-In-Chief at leading home design and decor site Hunker, Eve’s work involves building a next-gen media company by synthesizing a unique editorial vision, strategic content marketing and a focus on consumer insights. She also appeared on the New York Retail Innovation Week stage this year.
“I’d argue that any media business hoping to succeed needs to be innovating and therefore be a ‘new kind' of company,” Eve explained in a recent interview on PSFK. “Our idea was that if we could build an authentic and resilient brand of our own through a unique editorial vision, awesome storytelling, effective content marketing, and deep insights that allow us to understand what serves and delights audiences both on and off our platform, we could leverage all of those strengths on behalf of our sponsors.”
Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Host, Reset
As the host of Vox’s podcast Reset, Arielle unpacks the role of technology in daily life through episodes ranging a spate of topics, from politics and gaming to environmental issues and LGBTQ concerns, ultimately calling into question the existing structures enabling or inhibiting change.
Rachel Blumenthal, CEO & Founder, Rockets of Awesome
Rachel’s DTC apparel startup is reinventing how parents shop for the family by merging ecommerce tech with a hands-on and fashion-forward ethos, offering subscribers seasonal boxes of personalized clothing curations to simplify and amplify the shopping experience. She also appeared on the New York Retail Innovation Week stage this year.
Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO, LIVELY
As Founder and CEO of women’s DTC apparel brand LIVELY, Michelle is making waves with functional and fashionable clothing that blurs the lines between swimwear, intimates and athleisure, and which is informed directly by the needs and wants of today’s women—enabled by the brand’s community of over 100,000 ambassadors who provide insights for product and experience design.
“One of my biggest motivations behind founding LIVELY came from what I, as a woman, felt was a gap in the lingerie market. Today’s women want to wear high-quality apparel that they feel good about themselves in,” explained Michelle in an interview with PSFK. “The entire premise behind what we call “Leisurée” is to create highly functional products that are inclusive of a wide range of sizes and blur the aesthetic lines between lingerie, active and swim, while also having long-lasting style relevance.”
Lauren Chan, Founder and CEO, Henning
While working as a fashion editor, Lauren Chan recognized the need for fashion brands that served women beyond a size 12, leading her to found and launch plus-size workwear brand Henning.
Sophia Amoruso, Founder & CEO, Girlboss
The original founder of online retailer Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso’s pivot from fashion to community led her to launch Girlboss, an organization dedicated to providing support for women at all stages of their careers, with everything from wellness resources to financial advice.
Naj Austin, Founder & CEO, Ethel’s Club
Recognizing the need among those traditionally marginalized for a creative space to gather, Naj Austin launched Ethel’s Club, a membership-based community that provides access to an experiential multi-use space that provides daily programming meant to inspire, connect, and empower members.
Debbie Wosskow, Co-Founder, AllBright
Debbie Wosskow’s women-only members’ club and empowerment network AllBright was founded and developed based on the idea of providing networking and learning opportunities to professional women on a global scale.
Helena Hambrecht, Co-Founder, Haus
Applying her Silicon Valley experience in market trends research, Helena set out to create a new kind of spirit brand for millennials who like to socialize but without the next-day hangover, formulating an online-only, low-alcohol drink for the health-conscious consumer.
“Haus is made by millennials. We are literally our market, so we're extremely relatable,” Helena explained in an interview on PSFK. “We understand who we're selling to. We literally live on the farm where we grow the ingredients. We build transparency into the product, being really open about the ingredients and maintaining an open dialogue with our consumers.”
Zoe Feldman, Senior Director, New Ventures, Incubator Director, Chobani
In addition to spearheading Chobani’s new ventures, Zoe also directs the brand’s incubator program focused on supporting startups ready to make nutritious food accessible to all.
Trina Chan, VP of Retail and Partnerships, MOIC
Trina brings her expertise to the smash-hit Museum of Ice Cream, which recently opened a NYC flagship and continues to reinvent what an experiential museum brand can do today. She also appeared on the New York Retail Innovation Week stage this year.
Emily Schildt, Founder, Pop Up Grocer
Emily’s work is reimagining the grocery store experience through a traveling pop-up that builds a discovery and education-focused environment curated to be helpful rather than overwhelming, spotlighting the most innovative products in food, home, pet and beyond. She also appeared on the New York Retail Innovation Week stage this year.
“First and foremost, we want people to have fun. Our stores are free from the headaches of big ones and the moral imposition of small ones,” Emily said in an interview on PSFK. “We want people to take their time, hang out, ooh and aah, ask questions. We think people don't really know what they're looking for, and we want to help them work through that.”
Maya Simon, SVP of Ecommerce, Head of Registry, ZOLA
Maya Simon's work at ZOLA involves creating top-notch shopping experiences for both to-be weds and their guests during one of their most exciting yet often overwhelming life moments, reinventing the wedding planning process through personalized and tech-optimized capabilities.
Health & Wellness
Alessandra Henderson, Co-Founder & CEO, Elektra Health
Alessandra Henderson built Elektra Health as a means to empower women to take ownership over their hormonal health journey in perimenopause and menopause through education, content and community.
Veronica Lee, CEO & Founder, Remrise
Inspired to provide consumers with a sustainable and functional sleep solution, Veronica Lee’s Remise is a new kind of DTC holistic system that combines an East-meets-West supplement regimen with opt-in data tracking and individualized sleep coaching.
“With our holistic system, we really try to understand the root causes and how to balance the different elements of your health,” said Veronica, in an interview with PSFK. “Also, while sleep is probably one of the most foundational elements to affect health, it can often be the first one that gets de-prioritized. We wanted to build something makes it possible for people to keep sleep a priority.”
Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, Founder & CEO, Chillhouse
Recognizing the movement around self-care, Chillhouse founder Cyndi Ramirez developed the cafe and spa located in New York City’s Lower East Side on the premise of creating a community-driven space for women, and men, to relax and chill.
Evamaria Rönnegård, Development Leader of Better Living, IKEA
As leader of IKEA’s Better Living Project, Evamaria’s work centers around rethinking approaches to designing, funding and building our future homes and cities to tackle some of the most urgent challenges, creating more affordable and sustainable spaces for all.
“There is room for everyone in integrated neighborhoods. By sharing responsibilities, meeting each other and doing things together, the community thrives,” Evamaria told PSFK in an interview. “Doing so also strengthens diversity and inclusion, which leads to an increased quality of life for the people living there. We believe in a community that has diversity and equality in the forefront.“
Sara Nabil Ahmed, PhD Candidate and Researcher, Open Lab
As a PhD candidate and researcher at Newcastle University, Sarah is interested in next-gen architectural and interior design that is deeply malleable, allowing for dynamic spaces that can change in response to inhabitants’ in-moment needs and elevate their everyday living.
Kiki Goti, Founder, SomePeople
As founder of the Brooklyn-based architecture and design studio SomePeople focused on tech-led innovation, Kiki is investigating the field of kinetic, adaptive architecture that responds to environmental cues.
“The challenge today is to think beyond this one-way relationship between users and architectural machines: the user gives a command, the architectural machine executes it by transforming itself,” said Kiki when we spoke to her for an article. “If your home ‘knows’ you well, then very subtle shape-changing actions can become very meaningful in a specific context.”
Andrea Blieden, GM, The Body Shop U.S.
Turning to the past to move forward, Andrea’s work in reviving The Body Shop’s U.S. presence involves leaning into the brand’s heritage and its founding roots to refocus around sustainability and activism.
“We're still very much on the journey. I would say this is by far the most competitive beauty market. If we're going to stand for something in the activism space—instead of it being a message buried in our store—how can that become our windows, take over our ecommerce, become all of our digital marketing?” asks Andrea in a recent interview on PSFK. “That is a big part of our focus. In the next year, you'll see a lot more of that, where we take a much bolder stance on our activism issues.”
Kelle Jacob, Founder & CEO, Balanced Beauty Inc.
Recognizing the major opportunity at the juncture of CBD and skincare, Kelle is developing a line of clinically-tested products as part of her brand poised to redefine how we approach not only skin wellness, but also beauty and self-care in general. She also appeared on the New York Retail Innovation Week stage this year.
Sharon Chuter, Founder, UOMA
A former beauty executive, Sharon Chuter launched UOMA, translated as beautiful, to fill the lack of variety, inclusivity and all-natural products within the beauty industry.
Of course, this list is only a glimpse of the women leaders makes waves and driving change in their sector—the response from our community was so amazing, we couldn't fit everything within the confines of this page! But not to worry, the spotlighting doesn't stop here: PSFK will continue to showcase female (and male) pioneers all year round, so be sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter featuring the latest insights and emerging ideas in business, culture and beyond.