Founder Profile

Chari Cuthbert

ByChari

For knowing what women want--and delivering it with style.

Chari Cuthbert, CEO and founder of ByChari Jewelry, says she went into the business in 2012 "blindly." "I had to learn quickly going into jewelry--a male-dominated industry, especially on the production side--how to hold my own, ground myself, and figure out what I needed." You wouldn't know that today, judging by the success of the Jamaican founder and her company.

ByChari now does $2 million in annual sales. The brand gained a cult following of celebrity wearers, including Michelle Obama, who wore ByChari's VOTE necklace in 2020 during the First Lady's Democratic National Convention speech. Cuthbert says listening to her customers and asking questions has been the main reason for the growth. "Ask questions, and continue to educate yourself in the industry that you're in, use that information wisely, and you can break barriers," she says. "You can create something that's better than there was before."--Teneshia Carr

Company Information
Location
Los Angeles, California
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Stacey Abrams

NowAccount

For giving business owners a lifeline.

Political leader Stacey Abrams knows what it's like to have a great business idea fail from lack of funding. Along with her co-founder Lara Hodgson, Abrams started Nourish, a line of formula-ready baby bottles prefilled with water. Unable to find the cash to fulfill big orders, Nourish failed to take off. "The impediments we faced getting financing meant that even though we had a great idea, great execution, and actual proof of product, we couldn't translate that into sales because we couldn't get the financing," says the entrepreneur, lawyer, writer, and former legislator. "We failed; we grew to death."

Where many business owners might have seen a door close with Nourish's failure, Abrams saw another one open. Her experience led her in 2010 to start NowAccount, which buys invoices from qualified small businesses so they can get paid right away, rather than wait the sometimes 30 or 60 days it takes to get paid by a customer with an outstanding invoice. NowAccount recently received a $9.5 million investment, which Abrams plans to use to take the platform national.--Teneshia Carr

Company Information
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Viola Davis

Shoulder Up

For boosting the odds for more women.

Viola Davis, known for her brilliant acting and advocacy for equal rights for women of color, is also a successful entrepreneur. Along with her husband, Julius Tennon, Davis co-founded JuVee Productions, which currently has two television projects and three films in development with Amazon Studios. Her newest company, ShoulderUp, launched with co-founder Phyllis Newhouse in 2019, aims to mentor, connect, and support other women who want to bring about positive change in their lives and businesses. The company's investment arm, ShoulderUp Ventures, specifically backs women-led media, tech, and sports entertainment companies. "It is vital right now that we take this opportunity to understand what we are going to do with the baton that we have--literally we have the power to change history," Davis says.--Teneshia Carr

Company Information
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021

Jennifer Martin

Pipsnacks

For feeding America's snack addiction with bettter-for-you products.

Jennifer Martin, the co-founder of Pipsnacks, grew up with an autoimmune disease and many food sensitivities. As much as she enjoyed popcorn, she couldn't eat it until she was a college student, when a farmer showed up at the health food store she was working in with the small kernels that changed her life "I tried them and could 100 percent eat them. It didn't hurt my stomach, and it was the most delicious popcorn I've ever had in my life," she says. Martin popped the kernels for her brother and co-founder Jeff, and together with her best friend and Jeff's wife, Teresa Tsou, they knew they had something special, so they launched Pipsnacks in 2012. Today the company makes a line of snack food made from heirloom corn and, when possible, upcycled ingredients, such as repurposed excess ground heirloom corn flour. With Pipsnacks, Martin says she discovered her calling. "I couldn't see myself in corporate America. I couldn't see myself teaching or being a doctor. My brain just doesn't work that way. And so, for me, this was the only path and I think we found something that all three of us felt really passionate about," she says. That passion has paid off. In 2020 Pipsnacks’ revenue grew from $2.3 million to $6.1 million and the company expanded its offerings to five product lines, all with fewer than four ingredients that are whole grain, gluten-free, and non-GMO. When Covid shut down in-store sampling, Pipsnacks partnered with Ibotta, a cashback app, to allow consumers to send a free product to their friends. Last year also made the founders focus on e-commerce offerings—with highly successful results. Pipsnacks’ direct-to-consumer sales went up 520 percent. In 2020, Pipsnacks also committed to mission-driven initiatives, including Pipcorn Grants, which offers support and mentoring to Black and minority-founded brands. --Teneshia Carr

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

Teresa Tsou

Pipsnacks

For feeding America's snack addiction with bettter-for-you products.

Teresa Tsou, co-founded Pipsnacks with her husband, Jeff Martin, and her best friend and sister-in-law, Jennifer Martin. And she says the company, which reimagines snacks using heirloom corn and upcycled ingredients, owes much of its success to the fact that it is a family business. "What has been so tremendous is we're family, we're best friends, we know one another, we know one another's skills,” Tsou says.

Figuring out how to work together well has paid off. In 2020 Pipsnacks’ revenue grew from $2.3 million to $6.1 million and the company expanded its offerings to five product lines, all with fewer than four ingredients that are whole grain, gluten-free, and non-GMO. When Covid shut down in-store sampling, Pipsnacks partnered with Ibotta, a cashback app, to allow consumers to send a free product to their friends. Last year also made the founders focus on e-commerce offerings—with highly successful results. Pipsnacks’ direct-to-consumer sales went up 520 percent. In 2020, Pipsnacks also committed to mission-driven initiatives, including Pipcorn Grants, which offers support and mentoring to Black and minority-founded brands.

“[The pandemic] was a shock to the system, affecting not only how we get in front of our customers, but also supply chains,” Tsou says. “We positioned our products as a cleaner and nostalgic snack, which helped spike our sales."--Teneshia Carr

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