Founder Profile

Sarah LaFleur

M.M.LaFleur

Women spend over $70 million a year on her chic, personalized workwear.

Women’s workwear brand M.M.LaFleur first gained a following by curating “Bento Boxes” of coordinating looks—think tailored suits and sharp dresses—that busy women could try on at home. The strategy helped M.M.LaFleur hit more than $70 million in revenue in 2017—but it won’t keep the brand growing. More women are dressing casually for work, and an increasing number still want the in-store experience. LaFleur has responded to these trends by leaning hard into seven brick-and-mortar retail showrooms, where same-store revenue is up 13 percent from 2018. The company is also designing more lines for the formal and casual ends of their 25-55-year-old customer base—launching a high-end suiting collection this fall and designing a machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant travel line. “Releasing these two collections allows us to target both the C-suite exec and the younger, more casual woman on the go,” says co-founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur. --Lindsay Blakely

Industry
Retail
Year Founded
2013
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fashion Forward
Co-founders
Miyako Nakamura, Narie Foster
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Women’s workwear brand M.M.LaFleur first gained a following by curating “Bento Boxes” of coordinating looks—think tailored suits and sharp dresses—that busy women could try on at home. The strategy helped M.M.LaFleur hit more than $70 million in revenue in 2017—but it won’t keep the brand growing. More women are dressing casually for work, and an increasing number still want the in-store experience. LaFleur has responded to these trends by leaning hard into seven brick-and-mortar retail showrooms, where same-store revenue is up 13 percent from 2018. The company is also designing more lines for the formal and casual ends of their 25-55-year-old customer base—launching a high-end suiting collection this fall and designing a machine-washable, wrinkle-resistant travel line. “Releasing these two collections allows us to target both the C-suite exec and the younger, more casual woman on the go,” says co-founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur. --Lindsay Blakely

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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Promise

Non-violent offenders under community supervision can use her app to keep track of court dates and stay out of jail.

After a career in startups and the music industry—one job was helping Prince secure his digital rights—Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins saw a loved one go through a complex and harrowing experience after missing a court date. He had bounty-hunters after him mainly because he didn’t know who to call to reschedule his appearance. Ellis-Lamkins teamed up with longtime lawyer Diana Frappier to remedy a flawed system that saw nonviolent offenders pay fines and await trial behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer. They called it Promise; its pitch was to take over parts of the local criminal-justice apparatus and provide individuals with an app and automated check-in process that keeps track of court dates and paperwork. Before even graduating from startup incubator Y Combinator in 2018, this audacious little company had raised $3 million in funding from the likes of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital. Recently it has been working with Alameda County in California, as well as localities in Kentucky and North Dakota, and appearance rates--essentially, showing up when you’re supposed to in court--have increased by nearly 25 percent. “The system is fundamentally broken based on race and class,” Ellis-Lamkins says. She’s aiming to even the field, and help fix a system that penalizes those without means. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

Industry
IT Services
Year Founded
2018
Location
Oakland, California
Industry
The Platform Economy
Co-founder
Diana Frappier
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

After a career in startups and the music industry—one job was helping Prince secure his digital rights—Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins saw a loved one go through a complex and harrowing experience after missing a court date. He had bounty-hunters after him mainly because he didn’t know who to call to reschedule his appearance. Ellis-Lamkins teamed up with longtime lawyer Diana Frappier to remedy a flawed system that saw nonviolent offenders pay fines and await trial behind bars because they couldn’t afford bail or a lawyer. They called it Promise; its pitch was to take over parts of the local criminal-justice apparatus and provide individuals with an app and automated check-in process that keeps track of court dates and paperwork. Before even graduating from startup incubator Y Combinator in 2018, this audacious little company had raised $3 million in funding from the likes of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and First Round Capital. Recently it has been working with Alameda County in California, as well as localities in Kentucky and North Dakota, and appearance rates--essentially, showing up when you’re supposed to in court--have increased by nearly 25 percent. “The system is fundamentally broken based on race and class,” Ellis-Lamkins says. She’s aiming to even the field, and help fix a system that penalizes those without means. --Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

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Michelle Larivee

WTHN

She's brought acupuncture to a new audience: wellness-obsessed Millennials.

Michelle Larivee, co-founder of health and wellness company WTHN, turned to acupuncture for a couple reasons: to ease her back pain following a ski accident, and to help her get pregnant. "I always say I have two babies at the same time, my acupuncture baby, and my son, Sam," says Larivee. "I mean, this for me was just truly transformative." The former investment banker and consultant opened an acupuncture studio in New York City in 2018 that became profitable after just three months. This year the company, which has raised $2.5 million, launched a selection of blended herbs with names such as Dream On for sleep, and Can't Touch This for an immune system boost. Larivee says the company should hit $2 million in revenue this year. She’s planning more studios in New York and is looking to expand to cities such as Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. --Brit Morse

Industry
Consumer Services
Location
New York, New York
Industry
Fitness Nation
Co-founder
Dr. Shari Auth
Twitter
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Michelle Larivee, co-founder of health and wellness company WTHN, turned to acupuncture for a couple reasons: to ease her back pain following a ski accident, and to help her get pregnant. "I always say I have two babies at the same time, my acupuncture baby, and my son, Sam," says Larivee. "I mean, this for me was just truly transformative." The former investment banker and consultant opened an acupuncture studio in New York City in 2018 that became profitable after just three months. This year the company, which has raised $2.5 million, launched a selection of blended herbs with names such as Dream On for sleep, and Can't Touch This for an immune system boost. Larivee says the company should hit $2 million in revenue this year. She’s planning more studios in New York and is looking to expand to cities such as Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. --Brit Morse

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Ennie Lim

HoneyBee

She took on the payday lending industry, bringing affordable credit to those who need it most.

Ennie Lim. Courtesy subject.

Ennie Lim knows full well how important--and precarious--one’s credit score can be. After her divorce, the so-called age on her credit score suddenly sank to zero--and generally, older is better. Her only option for a personal loan: payday lenders. “Payday loans are a $90 billion industry and taking advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in America,” says Lim. In 2018, she launched HoneyBee to make small, low-interest loans to people through their employers. HoneyBee currently works with more than 150 companies, mostly midsize businesses of 150 to 200 employees, and it expects to have about 300 by year's end. HoneyBee’s typical loan goes those who make about $20 an hour and suddenly need $600 to $800 to fix their car, without which they can’t work. The loan is due in 90 days, and if an employee quits or is fired, HoneyBee can collect it against paid time off. So far, HoneyBee has made $1.8 million in loans, and plans to be operating in all 50 states by next year. --Kimberly Weisul

Industry
Financial Services
Year Founded
2018
Location
San Francisco, California
Industry
Money Movers
Cofounders
Benny Yiu and Max Zschoch
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Ennie Lim knows full well how important--and precarious--one’s credit score can be. After her divorce, the so-called age on her credit score suddenly sank to zero--and generally, older is better. Her only option for a personal loan: payday lenders. “Payday loans are a $90 billion industry and taking advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in America,” says Lim. In 2018, she launched HoneyBee to make small, low-interest loans to people through their employers. HoneyBee currently works with more than 150 companies, mostly midsize businesses of 150 to 200 employees, and it expects to have about 300 by year's end. HoneyBee’s typical loan goes those who make about $20 an hour and suddenly need $600 to $800 to fix their car, without which they can’t work. The loan is due in 90 days, and if an employee quits or is fired, HoneyBee can collect it against paid time off. So far, HoneyBee has made $1.8 million in loans, and plans to be operating in all 50 states by next year. --Kimberly Weisul

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Christina Lopes

One Health Company

She created a genetic cancer test for dogs. The resulting data could save people too.

Christina Lopes. Courtesy subject

Cancer, way too common in humans, is 10times more prevalent in dogs. Christina Lopes wants to help both problems at once. The Brazilian-born entrepreneur’s startup--strapped with $5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator, among others--created a genetic cancer test for canines. It detects gene mutations and helps veterinarians decide what kind of treatment is appropriate. Since launching last year, Palo Alto, California-based One Health has partnered with 70 animal hospitals throughout the U.S., helping hundreds of owners get their pets diagnosed and treated. Most important, these outcomes produce data that can then be used to develop therapies for humans. Lopes says a partner pharma company has made headway in developing a drug for cancer using One Health’s data. “We're already having impact on both sides of the leash,” she says. --Kevin J. Ryan

Industry
Biotech
Year Founded
2016
Location
Palo Alto, California
Industry
Science Pioneers
Co-founder
Ben Lewis
Data as of Publication on Sep 16, 2019
Inc. Honors
Inc. Female Founders
2019

Cancer, way too common in humans, is 10times more prevalent in dogs. Christina Lopes wants to help both problems at once. The Brazilian-born entrepreneur’s startup--strapped with $5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator, among others--created a genetic cancer test for canines. It detects gene mutations and helps veterinarians decide what kind of treatment is appropriate. Since launching last year, Palo Alto, California-based One Health has partnered with 70 animal hospitals throughout the U.S., helping hundreds of owners get their pets diagnosed and treated. Most important, these outcomes produce data that can then be used to develop therapies for humans. Lopes says a partner pharma company has made headway in developing a drug for cancer using One Health’s data. “We're already having impact on both sides of the leash,” she says. --Kevin J. Ryan

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