The global fashion industry is estimated at $3 Trillion – a truly mind-boggling number. Within the fashion industry are so many niche business models, styles, and designers – some focus on sustainability, some focus on jewelry, some focus on discount designer brands, some specialize in fur coats, some specialize in leather boots, and so on… The smaller pieces of the puzzle that is the global fashion industry express the propensity for creativity, self-expression, and utilizing fashion as a marker of identity.
Here’s a list of Fashionista Founders from Next Gen who are leading the charge. They’ve committed their lives to fashion (in their own interpretation of the term) via their companies, and are truly forging their creativity and vision into closets worldwide.
Nataliya Makulova has studied fashion professionally at the London College of Fashion, Parsons, and FIT. At age 19, she created an e-commerce platform to support independent fashion designers. She later worked as a sales and PR representative for dozens of international brands; her resume includes influential names such as Moda Operandi, Vince, Marc Jacobs, Tinker Tailor (a fashion customization startup), and SPRING. In 2017, she founded Balanced Fashion, a conscious business consulting company, which has recognized the need for a balance between the ethical and material aspects of doing business. Balanced Fashion helps clients in the fashion world create conscious business strategies that are better in the long term for both the environment and their wallets.
2. Sarah Greisdorf
Sarah Greisdorf is a student at Boston University who recognized another mishap in the fashion industry: pockets! Having noticed that women’s clothing often has pockets much too small to carry phones, wallets, and all the belongings a woman should carry with her, she created Holdette earlier this year. Holdette is an an online curated collection of women’s clothing with functional pockets, which sources clothing that can keep up with women so they can make the most of every day. “By making it easier for women to find clothing with real pockets,” says Sarah, “we turn the time and effort spent searching for functional clothing into energy that can be used to change the world.”
3. Elodie Freymann
Elodie Freymann is a recent graduate of Brown University. She began her company Elouette after developing the idea during her junior year. She was struggling to find sustainable fashion brands that were both affordable and trendy. Recognizing her own difficulties, she decided to try her hand at making her own brand. She went to a thrift store near campus to purchase salvaged sweatshirts and began designing. All of her designs are by hand, and she then prints them onto carefully selected, gently-used clothes. This ensures that every item she sells is unique. Her first batch sold out immediately. Even crazier? She operated this entire apparel business out of her college dorm, asking friends to be models and marketers, lugging piles of boxes on her own to the post office every day (boxes repurposed from mailroom trash, of course!)
4. Mackenzie Casey
Mackenzie Casey was born in Australia and is now based in New York City. She was named by Startup Grind as a Millennial Founder to Watch in 2018. To date, she’s worked for various companies and agencies with a specialty in marketing but has been working on her own fashion company, HUMM, for a few years. HUMM is a peer-to-peer fashion community for women to list, discover, and rent fashion. Through the platform, women can finally gain access and afford an endless designer closet while sharing with a community of rent-preneurs. By monetizing their closets, women can reinvest in new pieces they’d previously only dreamt of owning. Keep an eye on Mackenzie and HUMM; they’re launching in the coming months! You can join their pre-launch waitlist here.
5. Emma Butler
Emma Butler is a Junior at Brown University studying French studies and Visual Arts. Until recently, she had run a small painting business where clients custom order paintings, and Emma has now combined her love for art and fashion with her love for business. After completing her fellowship in Brown University’s 2018 Breakthrough Lab, she created her first company: Intimately. Intimately is a central marketplace for adaptive lingerie – which means that the garments are adjustable and fit many sizes, disabilities, and different functionality. She recognized the gap in the marketplace for clothing for the 60 million+ Americans who identify as having a disability or difficulty dressing themselves. Oftentimes, undergarments are hard to find or on unappealing medical websites. What Intimately aims to do is centralize these lingerie items, so they are easy to find on an attractive and inclusive website to prevent the perpetuation of marginalization.
6. Raquel Dunoff
Raquel Dunoff is a sophomore at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. She’s always loved engineering, but noticed that in high school, there weren’t many other girls in her STEM courses. To help the next generation find inspirational women in STEM, she created Trendsetter. The site STEMTrendsetter.com shares the stories of role models who are successful women in STEM from many different technical backgrounds, and they also sell STEM-inspired jewelry so that girls can identify women in STEM within their own communities.
By wearing this jewelry, you can help to create a visual of the greater representation of women interested in STEM. Perhaps even cooler: The jewelry on Trendsetter Gear is also about empowerment. Often, women in STEM fields love what they do because they find the chemical structures or formulas they use to be beautiful. This jewelry allows women to wear this beauty and show their research is a part of their identity.
7. Marie Hepfer
Marie Hepfer is based in the Bay Area and is the Co-founder of Best Good Things. Prior to starting her company, she worked at a few startups specializing in search and product discovery as a data scientist. She owes her passion for data to her time working in Space Labs at John Hopkins University. She’s utilized these experiences and unique talents to create Best Good Things, a personalized browsing experience that helps a consumer find clothing by browsing online instead of searching. They operate on the knowledge of a shopper’s main dilemma: “It’s hard to know what you want until you see it!” Using Best Good Things allows you to discover new brands and pieces you may have not found otherwise.
This array of Fashionista Founders proves the diversity of the industry. From aggregating existing pieces like Holdette and Diary Intimates, to emphasizing sustainability like Elouette and Balanced Fashion, our Next Gen Fashionista Founders are truly disrupting the fashion space, and we’re proud to cheer them on.
Join the Next Gen Community to connect with more founders just like these women and receive support and resources for your own startup!