Evolution Design Lab
For making the software that makes your shoes.
Evolution Design Lab manufactures shoes for partners under private labels, and the company has its own brand, Jellypop, but its software is the main event. Built under the guidance of founder Jennet Chow’s husband, Michael J. Chen, a software developer who previously worked at Disney, EDL’s software offers to connect clients directly with factories overseas. The buyer can monitor how much material designers use and what colors, and even create line sheets in a matter of minutes, a process that typically is not so simple or environmentally safe and has a much longer start-to-finish timeline. The software has also been helpful in managing EDL’s environmental concerns by cutting down on material used in the prototype phase. That makes sense: If you’re better able to manage what goes into a product, you can curb the chance for surprises and hiccups.
Evolution Design Lab’s software came in handy when Covid hit. Chow was able to continue communicating with factories in other countries and with buyers who were working from home. “The issue now is a lot of design firms can’t go overseas because of Covid,” says Chow. While that’s led to more direct business for her company’s software tools, the manufacturing and logistics difficulties have helped EDL get better visibility with retailers. “We have taken over a lot of [our competitors'] shelf space,” she says.--Alicia Doniger
Sarah Gibson Tuttle
Olive and June
For giving consumers the tools for salon-quality manicures at home.
Like many business owners during the pandemic, Sarah Gibson Tuttle was facing devastating circumstances for her business, a chain of affordable nail salons in Los Angeles. But a quick pivot into at-home manicure sets for customers was every bit the saving grace for the business--and, as it turns out, a key catalyst for growth. Gibson Tuttle recognized the white space in the at-home manicure experience. “We realized that there were no consumer products for nails. There were professional products on the shelf, and the consumer was just lost,” Gibson Tuttle says.
Beginning with her first product, Poppy, a patented polish bottle handle that helps the user stabilize their nondominant hand, the manicure set grew from there, eventually including pedicure tools and even tutorials users could watch to become their own nail professional. “We taught over a million people [virtually] how to paint their nails,” says Gibson Tuttle, whose revenue has grown 16 times what it was in 2019--despite having to shutter her three physical locations in Los Angeles. “What’s even more exciting than the revenue has always been the fact that we make people really happy. We give them this bit of self-care that they can do every week and really feel good about themselves.”--Alicia Doniger
For devising a better solution to common health problem.
"Jennifer Ernst founded Tivic Health in 2016, with the bioelectronic health company’s first product, ClearUP: a sinus pain and congestion treatment that took three years to develop. The Food and Drug Administration-approved device uses microcurrent therapy to relieve sinus pain. Working to solve a health problem that has had very little innovation for almost a century, Ernst says she felt a responsibility to put the product on the market. “There are just too many people who can benefit from this; it is too big of a problem,” says Ernst, who notes that 20,000 people have already used the treatment.
She owes a lot of that early success to Covid-19. Despite Tivic Health's struggle to navigate the global chip shortage and electronic supply parts scarcity, people’s newly realized need for at-home medical solutions has been a boon for the company. “I have been really pleased about being there for people needing to figure out their own health solutions,” says Ernst.--Alicia Doniger"
For making tough workout wear that's easier on the planet.
Through the course of training, managing professional fighters, and her own workouts, Natlyn Jones, a boxer, had a thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to actually wear a brand in the gym that implemented and represented the fighting spirit, especially for women?” It would also have to be sustainably made--a must for Jones, who was appalled by the negative impact clothing has on the environment. So, in 2019, SheWarrior was born.
The activewear brand has since found ample support among a growing customer base—save for several months during the pandemic. SheWarrior apparel is made to order, which Jones says is great for the environment, but it was crushing when her manufacturer shut down for six months and she had no inventory to sell. “It definitely slowed everything down,” Jones says. “I couldn’t fill any orders.”
Today, after much of that backlog has cleared, she remains adamant, she says, about building a company with values and that’s sustainable. “It is great to have a brand that I can put on and be proud of, and actually have it resonate with women in the name,” says Jones.--Alicia Doniger
For redesigning the jewelry business with women in mind.
It makes sense that jewelry companies have traditionally marketed their products to men: They were the ones with the money, after all. While that is clearly no longer the case, jewelry companies have been slow to reorient their messaging. At jewelry maker Mejuri, founder Noura Sakkijha says: “Buy yourself the damn diamond.” Thanks in part to this message of women’s empowerment, which is built into the very structure of the company as women make up the majority of the ranks, Sakkijha says 70 percent of Mejuri’s clients buy jewelry for themselves.
Its empowered message has also struck a chord with investors. Sakkijha raised $23 million in funding when she was seven months pregnant with twin girls. She says investors questioned her ability at first, but she never lost her confidence. The effort, she says, gave her the fire, passion, and resilience for what could have been a difficult deal to seal. Today, the six-year-old company operates physical stores in select cities across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.--Alicia Doniger