Founder Profile

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher

She's using her $500 million brand as an R&D lab for improving fashion's carbon footprint.

Eileen Fisher. Courtesy subject

Eileen Fisher knows the value of trash. Her eponymous fashion brand has been buying back and recycling old clothes since 2009. Today, under the rubric Waste No More, the company is transforming whatever fabric can’t be recycled into installations of wall hangings and interior design murals on view from Brooklyn to Milan. “We consider Waste No More to be a form of aesthetic activism--what many people consider waste, we consider beauty,” says Fisher. Ninety-seven percent of Eileen Fisher’s cotton and 91 percent of its linen are now organic. The company has also been conducting a process revamp; its goals include giving factories more production time, so more product can be shipped by boat, as opposed to air. What's more, Fisher embarked on research with Harvard University researchers to ensure that new purchasing practices don’t harm her suppliers’ employees. She hopes these efforts will inspire consumers to “acknowledge the tendency toward overconsumption in our culture and reevaluate their behavior." --Leigh Buchanan

Year Founded
1984
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Eileen Fisher knows the value of trash. Her eponymous fashion brand has been buying back and recycling old clothes since 2009. Today, under the rubric Waste No More, the company is transforming whatever fabric can’t be recycled into installations of wall hangings and interior design murals on view from Brooklyn to Milan. “We consider Waste No More to be a form of aesthetic activism--what many people consider waste, we consider beauty,” says Fisher. Ninety-seven percent of Eileen Fisher’s cotton and 91 percent of its linen are now organic. The company has also been conducting a process revamp; its goals include giving factories more production time, so more product can be shipped by boat, as opposed to air. What's more, Fisher embarked on research with Harvard University researchers to ensure that new purchasing practices don’t harm her suppliers’ employees. She hopes these efforts will inspire consumers to “acknowledge the tendency toward overconsumption in our culture and reevaluate their behavior." --Leigh Buchanan

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The Groomsman Suit

SuitShop

Inclusive, direct-to-consumer e-commerce company selling stylish, high-quality suits and tuxedos for less than the cost of a rental.

Jeanne Foley. Courtesy subject

When Jeanne Foley got married, her mother blew $500 on two ill-fitting tuxedos for Jeanne’s brothers to wear just once, at the ceremony. The Under Armour veteran knew she could do better. In 2016, she launched the Groomsman Suit with childhood bestie and Sloan School of Management grad Diana Ganz. The direct-to-consumer startup sells tuxedo separates for under $200--much less than traditional rentals. But Foley says the real key to the company’s success has been its “amazing service.” Orders ship within 48 hours, and returns and exchanges are free. As a bonus, the Groomsmen Suit will ship new items before they’ve received the originals. The group-ordering service even nudges groomsmen by email to get it together and order their tuxes--it may be the best thing that’s happened to weddings since candy stations. --Jill Krasny

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2016
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Leadership
Diana Ganz, Jeanne Foley
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Diana Ganz
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. 5000 Regionals: Midwest
No. 27 (2021)
Inc. 5000
No. 1276 (2021)
Inc. Female Founders
2019

When Jeanne Foley got married, her mother blew $500 on two ill-fitting tuxedos for Jeanne’s brothers to wear just once, at the ceremony. The Under Armour veteran knew she could do better. In 2016, she launched the Groomsman Suit with childhood bestie and Sloan School of Management grad Diana Ganz. The direct-to-consumer startup sells tuxedo separates for under $200--much less than traditional rentals. But Foley says the real key to the company’s success has been its “amazing service.” Orders ship within 48 hours, and returns and exchanges are free. As a bonus, the Groomsmen Suit will ship new items before they’ve received the originals. The group-ordering service even nudges groomsmen by email to get it together and order their tuxes--it may be the best thing that’s happened to weddings since candy stations. --Jill Krasny

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Heather Hasson

Figs

For shaking up a staid industry.

Trendy direct-to-consumer apparel company Figs has racked up a lot of “firsts” since launching in 2013. It’s largely credited with branding what was previously a staid, unbranded industry: health care scrubs. In 2021, Figs became the first health care apparel company—and the first company with two female co-founders, Heather Hasson and Trina Spear—to go public. And Figs is the first company to offer IPO shares through the stock-trading app Robinhood—that was by design so that the health care workers who wear Figs scrubs could get in on the action.

Figs ended 2020 with $263 million in revenue, up 138 percent from the year prior, and profit of $58 million. Sixty percent of the company’s sales come from repeat buyers.

“The nature of any good business is to focus on your customer. You have to look deep and see what they want and what they need and how to cater to them across every single category,” says co-CEO Hasson. “We give health care professionals something they didn’t know they wanted, and I think they really appreciate that.”--Lindsay Blakely

Year Founded
2013
Location
Los Angeles, California
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Trina Spear
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2021, 2019

Heather Hasson and co-founder Trina Spear correctly diagnosed the problem plaguing the medical scrubs industry: Options were limited to ill-fitting uniforms that were available for purchase only at inconvenient hours in uninspiring places (think medical supply stores also specializing in knee braces). Figs redesigned scrubs in high-tech fabrics and trendy silhouettes, and it brought in just over $23 million in revenue in 2017, and then over $100 million in 2018. The co-founders also decided to branch into brick-and-mortar retail with a pop-up shop in West Hollywood. “A bunch of our Instagram fans kept stopping by the office wanting to see the clothes. That’s when we decided we need a physical location,” Hasson says. This year, Figs became profitable and started expanding internationally (to Canada). More permanent outposts are planned for 2020.--Lindsay Blakely

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CaaStle

Christine Hunsicker

With her software, big brands can behave like hand-picked subscription services.

Christine Hunsicker. Courtesy subject

When Christine Hunsicker launched plus-size clothing rental service Gwynnie Bee in 2012, the goal was to prove to investors that consumers would actually rent clothing, thanks to the digital platform Hunsicker had created. It worked so well that, by 2017, a handful of clients, including New York & Co and Ann Taylor, were paying Hunsicker to manage logistics such as the shipping and cleaning for their own web orders. Today, Hunsicker’s "Clothing as a Service" company--rebranded as CaaStle (get it?)--employs more than 500 employees, who have shipped more than five million orders globally to date. With over $200 million in capital and a dozen retail partners, Hunsicker says she’s just getting started. “There are a lot of things we still have to build to maintain the position we’re in,” concedes Hunsicker, nodding to a pilot program that includes physical store locations. “The journey is a thousand of these little steps together.” --Zoë Henry

Year Founded
2012
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

When Christine Hunsicker launched plus-size clothing rental service Gwynnie Bee in 2012, the goal was to prove to investors that consumers would actually rent clothing, thanks to the digital platform Hunsicker had created. It worked so well that, by 2017, a handful of clients, including New York & Co and Ann Taylor, were paying Hunsicker to manage logistics such as the shipping and cleaning for their own web orders. Today, Hunsicker’s "Clothing as a Service" company--rebranded as CaaStle (get it?)--employs more than 500 employees, who have shipped more than five million orders globally to date. With over $200 million in capital and a dozen retail partners, Hunsicker says she’s just getting started. “There are a lot of things we still have to build to maintain the position we’re in,” concedes Hunsicker, nodding to a pilot program that includes physical store locations. “The journey is a thousand of these little steps together.” --Zoë Henry

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Rent the Runway

Jennifer Hyman

Her $1 billion valuation proves renting fashion is as good as owning it.

Jennifer Hyman. Courtesy subject

In 2009, when Jenn Hyman and co-founder Jennifer Fleiss started women’s-clothing rental business Rent the Runway, people saw the idea as either radically new or cute but trifling. “That will be so fun for you, to have all these fancy dresses,” one condescending would-be investor told Hyman, who considers herself a trend-spotter. She’d noticed that the younger generation was starting to value experiences over things, and that social media was turning the world into one big fashion show. She was right about all of it. Earlier this year, Rent the Runway’s valuation topped $1 billion, making Hyman one of the only female founders to pass that milestone. The company, which has 1,800 employees around the world, recently entered two new markets: kids and home--the latter through a partnership with West Elm. Says Hyman, “This is really just the beginning of what it will mean to have a subscription to Rent the Runway.” --Tom Foster

Year Founded
2009
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founder
Jennifer Fleiss
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

In 2009, when Jenn Hyman and co-founder Jennifer Fleiss started women’s-clothing rental business Rent the Runway, people saw the idea as either radically new or cute but trifling. “That will be so fun for you, to have all these fancy dresses,” one condescending would-be investor told Hyman, who considers herself a trend-spotter. She’d noticed that the younger generation was starting to value experiences over things, and that social media was turning the world into one big fashion show. She was right about all of it. Earlier this year, Rent the Runway’s valuation topped $1 billion, making Hyman one of the only female founders to pass that milestone. The company, which has 1,800 employees around the world, recently entered two new markets: kids and home--the latter through a partnership with West Elm. Says Hyman, “This is really just the beginning of what it will mean to have a subscription to Rent the Runway.” --Tom Foster

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