6 Los Angeles Entrepreneurs Who Inspire Us to Dream Bigger
A woman who sells rainbow desk accessories to the tune of multimillions. The decorator who dubbed L.A.’s colorful houseplants-and-macrame style “jungalow” and wrote best-selling books about it. The celeb hairstylist who created a hair care line that blows out of Target. These are just some of the success stories of Angeleno women who turned their passion into profit. Read their stories and get ready to reinvent yourself entrepreneurially.
Jen Gotch of Ban.Do
Ten years ago, this stylist and a friend were making vintage flower crowns for photo shoots. Today, Gotch is the creative director of the multimillion-dollar Ban.do brand that designs and sells cool T-shirts, pom-pom hats and coveted planners, all sharing an upbeat, candy-colored aesthetic. Gotch’s accomplishments are that much more outstanding because has done it all while struggling with mental illness; her outspoken advocacy for mental health continues on her new podcast, Jen Gotch Is OK…Sometimes. Oh, and she’s pals with Busy Philips. (Oops, buried our lede.)
Davida Nemeroff of Night Gallery
When Canadian-born Nemeroff moved to Los Angeles with a graduate degree from Columbia University, the fine art photographer had few contacts and couldn’t figure out the city’s nightlife. But in post-economic-crash 2010, there was cheap real estate, so she stated an art-gallery-as-social-space in a Lincoln Heights strip mall that was open during her free hours: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It became a buzzed-about space for contemporary art fans and a must-stop on anyone’s cool night out. Now the space has moved to a DTLA location, and Nemeroff coordinates cool philanthropy projects (like artist collab Planned Parenthood T-shirts) and represents her artists’ works (including pieces by painter Mira Dancy) internationally—still using her passion for artists and their work before profit as her guiding force.
Justina Blakeney of Jungalow
She’s the Martha Stewart for our generation. This designer, author and artist credits her “multiethnic family, UCLA degree in world arts and cultures and extensive travel” for the aesthetic behind her best-selling home-decorating book, The New Bohemians, and collabs with companies as diverse as Pottery Barn Kids, Beyond Yoga and Hygge & West (hello, dream wallpaper). The busy mom says the key to her success is staying true to her authentic style as a creative person—to the tune of more than a million Instagram followers.
Natalie Martin of Natalie Martin Collection
The secret weapon of stylish Angeleno women including Rihanna and Gwyneth Paltrow? A dress from this Australian-born, Benedict Canyon—dwelling designer. Her Balinese-printed silk dresses cost under $300 and look as perfect with sneakers for the kids’ school run as they do with high-heel-sandals and best of all, they’re the sort of pretty frocks that are pretty forgiving when you just can’t force yourself to squeeze into skinny jeans. While the designer has a background in luxury fashion retail, she took a complete leap of faith that other women would be drawn to the clothing patterns and shapes she envisioned. We did: Since she launched her brand in 2011, her pieces have regularly sold out at Barneys New York, Anthropologie and her online shop.
Kristin Ess of Kristin Ess Hair
You know that piece-y bedhead look that’s so fashionable among sexy young Hollywood? We can all have it now that pro hairstylist Ess has created an accessibly priced ($14, yay!) working texture spray that’s for sale at Target. The longtime film and television stylist was an early adapter for online beauty tutorial videos and says she was determined to make a product line that wouldn’t be overly precious to use or purchase. Bonus: The 26 products are as Instagram-pretty as they are effective.
Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate
After 12 years in digital marketing, including launching a successful events and influencer agency at the age of 23, Johnson had the bright idea to leverage her knack for forging connections between people online and get those same people to communicate IRL. Thus was born C & C, her online platform and offline conference series for women to share their entrepreneurial experiences and inspire one another. Hundreds of thousands of women have shown up to hear speakers like Kim Kardashian West and Gloria Steinem in cities including L.A., Chicago and New York. Next up: Her career tips in book form, WorkParty, will be published in August.