With a buy-one-give-one model, her company, now owned by P&G, makes its period products available to girls and women who once had to do without.
Talia Frenkel can’t pinpoint the moment she knew she wanted to help needy girls and women gain access to sexual and period products—she just instinctively felt it had to be done. “An anger arose in me,” says the former photojournalist. “There was a lot of talk about strengthening the collective power of women and girls, but when it came to sex and periods, it was as if the conversation stopped." Frenkel had spent nearly a decade working with the Red Cross and the United Nations documenting humanitarian crises in countries like Cambodia, but she had no background in business, technology, or consumer product goods. So, she says, she “naively started” This Is L. with the goal of creating organic, affordable goods that women would actually want to display. “The L represents the love that is at the core of each product,” says Frenkel, who initially sold a condom to protect women and girls from HIV and AIDS. This year, L expanded its line to include light organic tampons and fragrance-free organic wipes. With its products now sold in more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. as well as online, This Is L.--acquired earlier this year by Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum--also partners with women entrepreneurs in more than 20 countries to improve product accessibility. --Jill Krasny
She parlayed a lifestyle reality TV franchise into a home decor empire.
During the five-year run of their hit show Fixer Upper, Joanna and Chip Gaines ruled HGTV—and reality television in general. The business empire the couple has created in its wake, which is headquartered in their hometown of Waco, Texas, has been designed to last much longer. In addition to their construction and real estate company, the Gaineses’ portfolio of businesses now includes a restaurant, a few Texas vacation rentals, a quarterly publication, a series of home improvement books and cookbooks, several lines of furniture, paints, and home accessories, and a sprawling Waco shopping complex undergoing a $10.4 million expansion this year. Their latest move: teaming up with Discovery to launch their own cable network in 2020. The Gaineses will serve as the talent and the chief creative officers for the network, focusing on home design, food, travel, entrepreneurship, and other family-friendly content.--Lindsay Blakely
Her online tool is reinventing the way consumers select and shop for paints.
After 10 years at Victoria’s Secret, Nicole Gibbons left her position as director of public relations to re-create herself as a design expert. Inspired by Martha Stewart’s business model, Gibbons built on her credentials as a blogger, landing gigs as a design expert on television shows like OWN’s Home Made Simple, where she helped people redesign their living spaces. One of the most common renovation struggles, she found, was paint. “There are literally more than 100 whites to choose from, which is bananas,” says Gibbons. So she created the Clare Color Genius, an online tool that asks customers questions about the space they are painting, creates a highly curated palette, and ships adhesive swatches (no more mini-cans of samples) to the customer’s home. With $4 million in capital from Warby Parker and Harry’s founder Jeff Raider and two of Casper Mattress co-founders, Neil Parikh and Luke Sherwin, Gibbons plans to change the way we shop for paint. --Tim Crino
She's built the second-biggest wedding planning site in the U.S.
Shan-Lyn Ma launched Zola in 2013 with one product: a wedding registry. Four years later, after multiple customers requested it, she released a suite of free tools to help plan weddings. Couples could now use Zola to create wedding websites that managed guest lists and other details. It was a runaway hit. “I think pretty much the day we launched in 2017, it just took off,” says Ma, who leveraged that traction to close a $100 million Series D round in May 2018. In the past 12 months, Zola released three more products and became the nation’s No. 2 wedding site behind the Knot. More than a million couples have plotted matrimony on Zola. “We started to expand our vision. We want to serve couples throughout the entire wedding planning journey,” says Ma. “Everything we do fits about five or six categories, and over time we want to be that one-stop shop.” --Guadalupe Gonzalez
She just wanted her product to be effective. Now she has Sephora's fastest-growing skin care brand.
Tiffany Masterson never set out to create a cult skin care brand. She just wanted to make “something as effective as what you can find in the dermatologist’s office,” she says. After spending two years researching the ingredients commonly found in skin care products, the Houstonian singled out six that could potentially trigger issues in people’s skin. In 2012, she enlisted a chemist who used her research to whip up Drunk Elephant, a line of clinically effective products that became popular in a hurry. By 2016, Drunk Elephant was on the favorites wall of Sephora; between 2016 and 2018, Drunk Elephant quadrupled revenue to “well over” $100 million. As Masterson mulls selling the company for $1 billion, she is expanding to Hong Kong, and she also has her eyes set on the U.K. and Australia as well as the launch of “lifestyle” products. “The reason we do well is because we are who we are,” says the founder. “It’s not this bravado type of attitude with us.” --Jill Krasny