d Meika Hollender
For the frst four years of Hollender’s no frills, female-focused sexual health
startup, it was all about condoms. But 2017 marked a signifcant expansion in
the company’s “vagina-friendly” portfolio, with new product lines including
organic tampons, pads, and, as of August, Thinx-style period undies. Hollender
was able to move so swiftly, in part, because her co-founder and father, Jeffrey,
started Seventh Generation. “We had the experience in this space and rela-
tionships with manufacturers, so we were able to bring these products to
market quickly,” says Meika, noting that condoms are still 50 percent of the
company’s sales, which have increased 300 percent in the past year. –J.M.
2018 SURVE Y
S TATE OF WOMEN
As more funds invest exclusively
in women (see “The Female
Founder’s Funding Guide,” page
66), some of our survey respondents prioritize female backers.
of the female founders make
investments in other startups.
Of those founders ...
20% said they wanted female
investors because they felt they’d
be taken more seriously.
24% said they wanted to
support female investors.
28% said female investors better
understand their target market.
of the women
“I didn’t seek out just
women—but I want
to support female
Mary Fox, CEO and
Marlow. “It’s insane
how few women are
in this space.”
Several founders have all-female
management teams, but many
women cite men as important
supporters. Of those respondents
who started their companies with
partners, more chose men than
109 vs. 75
most expensive parts of e-commerce that once
dogged Gilt—including inventory and returns.
Ma’s mantra for what’s next: “How can we make
this bigger?” —T.F.
Adaptable furniture designed by a roboticist.
Because working moms shouldn’t be set
up to fail.
Jessica O. Matthews
She energizes everyday objects.
BEAUT Y PIE
Some entrepreneurs will tell you that building
their company was so hard they could never
do it again. Not Kilgore. She launched her latest
beauty venture a year and a half ago, but started
her entrepreneurial career in the 1990s, with the
spa chain Bliss. After selling a $30 million chunk
of it to LVMH in 1999, she started Soap and Glory,
which sold for a reported $50 million. FitFlop
soon followed. Now, Kilgore is taking on the
direct-to-consumer trend in an industry that has
plenty of margin to play with. “The retailer takes
60 percent right off the bat,” she says. “People
don’t know that if a factory makes a lipstick, that
lipstick is available to any other brand that works
with that factory.” The common thread through
all of Kilgore’s businesses: Every one has been
entirely self-funded. —K. W.
All hail the high priestess of soldering,
coding, and DIY hacking.
THE MANE CHOICE
A You Tube following transformed into a black
natural hair care empire.
Every closet could use a cleanout—she fgured
out how to monetize it.