Stylemakers Who Are Making a Difference
We're proud to tell the stories of these change-makers who continue to use their platform to do good.
By looking out for the environment, the people they work with and the communities they are a part of, Stylemakers can help ensure that style can continue to grow and evolve for many years to come. These Stylemakers are giving back, doing good, and supporting others through their work and by lifting their voices to issues they care about.
Sara Blakely (2011 Stylemaker), the founder of Spanx, created the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation in 2006. It's made of a rotating board of Spanx employees that allocate a portion of the company's profits to various causes that support women. Last year, the foundation donated $5 million (through 1,000 grants of $5,000) to support female-run businesses during the pandemic. In 2013, Sara became the first self-made, female billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half her wealth to charity. In addition to her charitable giving and foundation activities, Sara's good works extend to random acts of kindness as well, such as loaning her wedding dress to people she barely knows.
Molly Barker (2017 Stylemaker) founded Girls on the Run to teaches girls confidence through an active curriculum that creatively integrates running. Molly left the organization in 2013, and it continues to thrive: celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Girls on the Run boasts available programming in over 12,000 locations across the nation.
Erin Benzakein (2017 Stylemaker) has offered scholarships for Floret workshops ever since they began in 2013. She says it's her way of paying it forward: she had received a life-changing opportunity to invest in her own career with the help of a leader in the floral design industry. When they converted from in-person to online workshops in 2017, they were able to offer more scholarships, typically around 4-6 per year. This year, they had planned to offer eight full scholarships—but after a record 4,000+ applications, Erin decided to expand the number of scholarships in order to help the greatest number of people following a very difficult year. The 2021 cohort includes 15 full scholarships and an additional 20 half-tuition scholarships, which was the most they have ever offered.
Justina Blakeney (2016 Stylemaker) nurtures a partnership with Trees for the Future, an organization that plants forest gardens to create more sustainable communities in Africa. Each product purchase through Jungalow plants one tree—and Jungalow matches that donation, doubling the trees planted. More than 62,000 trees have already been planted.
Rayman Boozer (2019 Stylemaker) is one of the founding members of Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG). It is a global platform, founded by Malene Barnett, that represents a curated collection of independent Black artists, makers, and designers across various art and design disciplines who are at the top of their respective fields. Earlier this year, Rayman was part of a group from BADG to collaborate with S. Harris on a line of textiles, Orejen. The collaboration reflects under-recognized groups in design, and its design process and products can be a model for how to draw inspiration without the cultural appropriation that's common in fashion and design.
Brigid Coulter (2014 Stylemaker) founded Blackbird, an online and in-person community for professional women of color and allies. In 2020, Bridgid added a nonprofit arm—the Blackbird Alliance, to help entrepreneurial women of color who had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Alliance recently completed its strategic plan, and the future of the group includes a mentorship program, wellbeing workshops, and training in areas of life skills and business strategies.
Katie Couric (2012 Stylemaker) is one of nine women who founded Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) in 2008. SU2C raises funds to support cancer research and relies heavily on collaborators in the entertainment community to raise public awareness and support for its initiatives. This March, Katie became the first woman to guest host Jeopardy! Following her two-week stint as guest host, the show donated $230,504 to SU2C—a total matching the winnings of the contestants during her tenure—as a tribute to Trebek, who died from pancreatic cancer last November.
Ayesha Curry (2018 Stylemaker) and husband, NBA star Stephen Curry, launched Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation in 2019. The Bay-Area-focused charity is dedicated to enriching the lives of children in underserved communities with a focus on combating hunger, providing access to education, and creating safe spaces to be active. The foundation was recognized by the Congressional Hunger Center for its efforts combating hunger during the pandemic, including partnering with Oakland area restaurants to feed local residents, and working with farmers to prevent food waste due to restaurant closures. The foundation also continued the Curry family tradition of giving out food and gifts at the holidays and announced a new playspace for an Oakland school.
Guy Fieri (2012 Stylemaker), teamed up with the National Restaurant Association to create the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) in 2020. Through their creative efforts, RERF raised more than $21.5 million to assist unemployed restaurant workers during the pandemic, giving $500 grants to over 43,000 eligible restaurant workers.
Lily Kanter (2011 Stylemaker), the co-founder of Serena + Lily, launched Boon Supply, a brand dedicated to eco-conscious living. Not only do they sell environmentally conscious products like detergent strips and refillable deodorant, but 40% of every purchase also goes towards supporting the cause of your choice, from well-known nonprofits to local fundraising efforts.
Padma Lakshmi (2016 Stylemaker) co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America (EndoFound) with Tamer Seckin, MD in 2009. The organization advocates for better recognition of, surgical training for, and more research about endometriosis. In 2020, EndoFound helped launch PeriodNow, to provide menstrual hygiene supplies to those in need during the pandemic, and it continues that work in 2021. EndoFound also supported the first-ever House Endometriosis Caucus, which successfully led Congress to approve doubling government funding for endometriosis research.
Rebecca Lemos-Otero (2018 Stylemaker) cofounded City Blossoms to give kids the opportunity to garden in the city. The nonprofit, which partners with gardens and community green spaces around Washington, D.C, serves youth at all stages, from toddler through graduation and beyond—they developed the City Blossoms Fellowship, to young people an opportunity to cultivate their leadership and professional experience by assisting the organization's mission).
Ryan Maxwell (2012 Stylemaker) made use of Apartment Therapy's good humor and active following to sell graphic t-shirts to support pandemic relief, with 100% of the profits going to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels. This year they've added another design to keep the funds raising.
Lee Mayer (2017 Stylemaker), made a statement on the Havenly blog in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. In it, Lee acknowledged her company's lack of diversity and set goals for more diversity in hiring as well as amplifying Black voices through the sellers, designers, and creatives they promote. The statement was not only a way for Lee to encourage the public to hold herself and the company accountable to these promises, she also hoped it would encourage others to engage with the topic as well. Since the statement, Havenly has been working on additional ways to support racial justice, such as programs to help increase access to training for people traditionally underrepresented in the design industry. In addition, Lee has focused her own personal investing into women and POC, groups that she recognizes are often underfunded when it comes to entrepreneurial investments.
Mariam Naficy (2014 Stylemaker), founder and CEO of Minted, was moved by the events of last summer to put new diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in place at Minted—committing to doubling the representation of Black and Latinx artists in their space in the next 2 years, uncovering bias in their Design Challenges, and expanding employee resource groups for Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ employees. Also in 2020, Minted partnered with SNL producer Lindsay Shookus to create Notes of Gratitude, a collection of limited edition stationery, notebooks, and greeting cards, where a portion of the sales goes to the World Central Kitchen, an organization that supports local restaurants and feeds frontline workers.
Jacques Pepin (2016 Stylemaker) started the Jacques Pepin Foundation (JPF) to bolster community kitchens and provide free culinary training for people with barriers to employment. JPF offers grants, curriculum, and educational videos, and provides networking opportunities that support community kitchens. In lieu of in-person fundraising in 2020, JPF launched a poster campaign, selling Jacques' artwork to support community kitchen funds—and this year, the Community Kitchen Emergency Relief Fund continues with two new posters by Jacques. Also this year, JPF established the Gloria Pépin Memorial Grant. In honor of Jacques' late wife, it is an unrestricted, $5,000 grant that will go to a female graduate of a JPF grant-awarded community kitchen program.
Arati Rao (2018 Stylemaker) founder of Tantuvi, works closely with weavers in India to create Tantuvi's products. In addition to ensuring fair wages, Arati and Tantuvi also strive to support their weavers' communities, helping fund schools and other local initiatives so that the artisans and the people around them are not only successful but young people are inspired to learn their unique craft and continue the tradition for future generations.
Chef Marcus Samuelsson (2014 Stylemaker) co-chairs the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a national nonprofit that provides career readiness and development for underserved high school students to pursue culinary work (and continues to offer a supportive community after graduation). In response to COVID, Marcus established Project Bento to coordinate resources in the nationwide efforts to support impacted businesses, feed people in need of food, and provide relief to people and businesses impacted by the economy.
Julia Turshen (2019 Stylemaker) founded EQUITY AT THE TABLE (EATT) in April 2018 as a response to gender and racial discrimination in the food industry. The free to join (and use) digital directory features only women/gender non-conforming individuals in and around the food industry, focusing primarily on People of Color and the LGBTQ community.