For breaking taboos in the bra industry.
At the age of 27, Dana Donofree was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I felt like I had gotten catapulted into this world that was built for my grandmother,” she says. In 2014, the lack of bras suitable for people with breast cancer inspired Donofree, who had been a fashion designer, to launch AnaOno, which makes intimate apparel for people who have undergone breast surgery, often for cancer. ”If you have one breast, two breasts, no breasts, or new breasts, it shouldn’t matter,” she says. AnaOno’s were among the first mastectomy bras to be sold online and not by a medical supply company, she says. From the start, the company has sought to break taboos and build an empowering community for cancer survivors. “Yes, we're the bra, and yes, you're going to need us,” she says, “but I hope to be so much more than that.” Other brands are finally recognizing the need to be “boob-inclusive,” Donofree says, thanks to the recent heightened attention on diversity and inclusion. At the same time, however, the pandemic led many people to skip regular cancer screenings--which now means more diagnoses, more surgeries, and more people seeking out AnaOno’s products. “We were there to catch them when they were ready to fall,” Donofree says. AnaOno is on track to hit 30,000 customers and nearly $3 million in revenue this year, nearly double last year’s figures, Donofree says. The Philadelphia-based company, which raised a seed round in 2018, is now looking toward securing additional fundraising and expanding into new product lines, including swimwear.--Sophie Downes
Badger & Winters
For rooting out sexism in the ad industry.
When Madonna Badger started working in advertising, there weren’t many women executives to look up to. So she became one. She left Calvin Klein to start her own firm in New York City in 1994, which, “just like any other company, went through peaks and valleys and changes,” she says, but landed clients like Vera Wang, Shiseido, and Procter & Gamble. Then, on Christmas morning 2011, Badger’s parents and three young daughters died in a fire at her Connecticut home. “After that, I really wanted to live, and be, and use my talent with a purpose,” she says. In 2016, her agency launched #WomenNotObjects, a campaign to end the objectification of women in advertising, and successfully petitioned the Cannes Lions to reject ads that objectified women. Badger & Winters went on to create more campaigns with a social-impact focus, including one for Olay, featuring gymnast Aly Raisman, that aired during the Tokyo Olympics and a Dick’s Sporting Goods ad spotlighting the company’s female leaders. The business is growing at a rapid clip, Badger says, and keeps getting more diverse: Its staff is now 56 percent BIPOC, while senior leadership is half BIPOC and two-thirds female. Badger’s next goal is to create more campaigns for companies outside beauty and fashion, like automakers, cruise lines, and real estate. “The key to our future growth is going to be working with some of these other industries that are starting to turn the lights on as well,” she says. “They need to up their game in terms of diversity and inclusion, and they're going to need agencies like mine that know how to do that.”--Sophie Downes
For making fertility services more accessible.
When you’re a serial entrepreneur, Gina Bartasi says, you learn to listen to your customers. “They have the answers about what business you should be starting, and what business is needed to serve their pain points.” Bartasi found those pain points in health care, and specifically in fertility, where costs keep rising while patient experiences and outcomes worsen. Her previous company, Progyny, which offers a fertility benefits management solution for employers, went public in 2019 at a $1.3 billion valuation. She launched her fifth startup, New York City-based Kindbody, in 2018, to take fertility benefits a step further--by letting employers purchase services directly from doctors. Kindbody operates its own clinics, including some on-site at workplaces, and plans to expand into 12 new markets in 2022. It also has 300 partner clinics around the country that meet its standards for patient-focused care, higher-than-average success rates, and competitive, transparent pricing. It reduces the cost of care by automating scheduling and other administrative work. The fertility industry has boomed during the pandemic, Bartasi says, with more single parents, same-sex couples, and newlyweds deciding to have children. Kindbody has raised $125 million in venture capital, most recently in a $62 million Series C round in June that included investments from Gabrielle Union, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Hannah Bronfman. All of Kindbody’s physicians are women, and half are BIPOC, Bartasi says, noting that studies suggest Black women are twice as likely as White women to experience infertility. “We want to make sure that women’s health is being run by women, for women.”--Sophie Downes
For supporting women who want to re-enter the workforce.
Addie Swartz was on a break after starting her second company, a book series and brand for preteens called The Beacon Street Girls, when she was in a car crash that left her daughter with a serious concussion. “When I was taking care of her, which sidelined me, I saw all these women who were sidelined,” she says. So in 2013, she founded reacHIRE, which works with employers to create “returnship” programs for women who are re-entering the workforce after a break. With clients including T-Mobile, Wayfair, and Fidelity, the Concord, Massachusetts-based company brings women back to work in cohorts and trains them for jobs that might not even have existed in the first stage of their careers. In February 2020, it created Aurora, a platform to help companies build a bench of early-career female talent through leadership development. “The original vision was that the return-to-work business would replenish talent into the pipeline for companies, and that the Aurora platform would grow the early-career women into emerging leaders and managers,” says Swartz. But then the pandemic hit. Schools and daycare centers closed, and without the support they needed to stay at their jobs, women left the workforce in droves. Swartz moved quickly to bring them into the fold. “A crisis forces you to reorganize and reprioritize,” she says. “You could sit and be upset and frustrated, or you could say, wait a minute--what is happening, how are we addressing it, and how are we going to move to the needs that are here now?” ReacHIRE expanded the Aurora platform to include tracks for midcareer women, women of color, and women having children.--Sophie Downes
For making it easier to redesign your home.
Over the last year, while the world was in lockdown, one thing became apparent: Many of us realized our homes were not designed to spend so much time inside of them. “During the pandemic, all of those projects that we've been putting off have become important now that our homes have become more front and center in our lives," says Lee Mayer, CEO, and founder of Havenly, an online interior design service, which saw an incredible surge in business in the past year. "There was an opportunity to provide a service for individuals--as they think about buying or redecorating their home--to help them design the home that they love, that matches their needs within their budget.” Mayer started Havenly in 2014 after she attempted to redecorate her home and felt incredibly overwhelmed by an overabundance of information--and couldn’t afford an interior designer. Havenly designs thousands of rooms per year, and its affordable e-commerce platform is connected to hundreds of retailers so clients can make direct purchases.--Teneshia Carr