Founder Profile

Amy Errett

Madison Reed

For meeting the massive demand to bring hair color inside women's homes.

Amy Errett passed on Dollar Shave Club as a venture capitalist. After seeing it explode, she thought, ‘What is the equivalent gap in at-home beauty for women?’--something they already wanted to do but that wasn’t that hard to learn. Errett settled on hair color, and created a hair dye without things like ammonia and parabens. She named the product Madison Reed after her daughter and launched the company in 2013. It makes its hair color in Lombardy, Italy—one of the hardest-hit regions of the pandemic. At the same time, demand skyrocketed. Without hair salons, people were forced to take their hair color into their own hands--or leave their screen off on Zoom. In May 2020, she says, “We were selling a box of hair color every five seconds.” They had to make free hand sanitizer for the Italian government to get permission to continue to export product. “And so it was just four o'clock in the morning calls, every single morning for six, seven months,” she says. While meeting demand, Errett took care of her people, retraining 100 employees in physical stores in the U.S. for customer service rather than letting them go. The company added mental health benefit TalkSpace and telehealth services and offered online teachers for employees' kids in September 2020 to try to mitigate challenges presented by the pandemic, from post traumatic stress to losing daycare. “Those were easy decisions to make," Errett says. "You can't decide that when things get tough, it's not expedient to help people.”--Gabrielle Bienasz

Company Information
Industry
Consumer Products
Year Founded
2013
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
All Things Consumer
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021, 2019

Dying your hair is either a big expense at a salon or a gamble at home, and Amy Errett is tackling this problem head on. After starting her career in investment banking, she saw her entrepreneurial opportunity when her wife asked her to pick up a box of hair dye. Errett was shocked at the ingredients that would be going onto her loved one’s head. In 2014, her Madison Reed began direct-to-consumer sales of hair dye made without ammonia and parabens, and she helped users match their color with online augmented reality tools. Two years ago, the San Francisco-based company branched out from online sales to a network of color bars where customers can pay a stylist about $60 to help with the application, half the cost of a typical salon. (The dye costs $26.50 a bottle.) Madison Reed products are also for sale in all of beauty retailer Ulta’s stores. The company has raised $121 million in fundraising to date from investors including Norwest Venture Partners and Danny Meyer of Shake Shack and will have a dozen color bars in New York, California, and Texas by the end of the year. Next up: color bar franchises. Errett expects at least 500 to open within four years. She says: “I’m hell bent on changing this industry, not just having the best product.” --Anna Meyer

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Alexandra Fennell

Attn: Grace

For designing a better way to age gracefully.

Alexandra Fennell and Mia Abbruzzese, the two co-founders of Attn: Grace, are not only just running a business together. The married couple launched the company last year while raising their four young children in the middle of a pandemic. Attn: Grace sells a line of incontinence care products for women over 50, a demographic constantly overlooked by industries ranging from fashion to beauty to health care. The company launched in June 2020, and offers pads, wipes, briefs, and liners. Fennell says it plans on launching an anti-rash skin cream in the near future.

In customer testimonials, Fennell says she noticed many older women had become so used to limited and drab options for personal hygiene products that they simply didn’t expect anything better to come along. Which is why there’s a bigger mission behind Attn: Grace: The company hopes to show that getting older should be a cause for celebration. “I'd like to think that we're going to help start a movement to really shift how we perceive the latter stages of life,” says Fennell.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Industry
Retail
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Jaclyn Fu

Pepper

For making small-chested women look and feel beautiful.

When Jaclyn Fu and her co-founder Lia Winograd launched Pepper, a bra company for small-chested women, on Kickstarter in 2016, they knew they had a winning idea. “Our goal was $10,000,” Fu says. “We had about 1,000 people on the waitlist before we even launched the Kickstarter.” They met their goal in the first 10 hours. Within 13 days, they had raised $50,000. They officially launched the company in 2018. The Denver-based startup found its audience quickly: It grew 400 percent from 2019 to 2020. Fu thinks the pandemic has helped their growth because people’s shopping habits have shifted so dramatically and everyone wants comfy clothes. But they also at one point had a captive audience for their YouTube and social media ad campaigns. "Everyone was home, scrolling through Instagram,” Fu says. Last year, as Black Lives Matter protests raged across the country, they launched a Startup Grant for Black Women—a $5,000 award to a Black woman founder—and they’re making it an annual commitment. This year, for Pride Month, they donated $10,000 to For the Gworls to support Black trans people. They also put trans women front and center on their website—the Pepper homepage featured trans models and their Instagram was full of first-person accounts by trans women. And, like small-chested cis women, trans women are excited about the bras—which are sexy, comfortable, and for cup sizes AA to B only. This year, in addition to new fall colors, they’ll be launching their first strapless bra and a mesh underwear collection.--Hannah Wallace

Company Information
Industry
Retail
Location
Denver, Colorado
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Megan Glover

120water

For helping consumers know what's in their drinking water.

Turns out testing the quality of public water isn’t a job that can be halted during a pandemic. Since its founding in 2016, Indiana-based 120Water had established itself as a reliable service for municipalities to test their drinking water for toxins like lead, copper, and arsenic. But how do you do that safely during a pandemic? Utility workers sent to collect water samples would knock on residents’ doors and receive no response.

The solution: getting residents to test the water themselves. The company launched a contactless water testing kit, complete with clearly labeled instructions and educational materials for residents, according to CEO and co-founder Megan Glover.

Now, the water testing company has added sampling for SARS-CoV-2 in public wastewater to its list of services. According to Glover, clients wanted another way to track the trajectory of the virus in their cities. Such wastewater monitoring, which detects the virus in sewage, allows communities to identify emerging Covid-19 hot spots.

“Last year was again focused on continuing to grow our core business, which became even more of a necessity, but also what more could we be doing as part of the pandemic to help our customer base protect public health,” says Glover.

At present, 120Water’s future appears to be very bright. Pending legislation at the federal level that requires all utilities to remove lead pipes has resulted in a rush of business for 120Water. Which is why the firm has grown its client base by 400 percent since the beginning of January.

“All 52,000 utilities and regulators across the country are trying to figure out if they have to [replace] all of these pipes and where they are. And that's what we're helping our customers do with predictive analytics and data management through our platform,” says Glover.--Amrita Khalid

Company Information
Industry
Software
Location
Zionsville, Indiana, Indiana
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Hani Goldstein

Snappy

For giving her employees a powerful way to give back.

Hani Goldstein loves to give. So much so that she founded a company to do just that. “The whole concept of Snappy is to spread joy and give back,” says Goldstein. Specifically, Snappy is a gifting platform that counts Microsoft, Uber, and Zoom among its more than 1,400 enterprise customers. In 2021, the platform has helped more than one million gift recipients into assorted freebies, from laptop sleeves to air fryers to sleeping bags. But for her own roughly 200 employees, Goldstein decided to take another route: help them do the gifting. In January, Snappy created a $500,000 fund led by employees, and they get to determine whom to help. They’ve donated their time--and the company’s funds--to community hospitals and nurses, an AIDS walk, painting walls in a homeless shelter, math tutoring for underprivileged kids, and other good causes. Goldstein says she thought employees would take pleasure in doing good after such a rough year or so. “I can tell you on a personal note,” she says. “When I’m not feeling good, if I’m able to give back it’s almost like a cure.”--Diana Ransom

Company Information
Industry
Software
Location
New York, New York
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021