Between them, they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture funding. They’ve launched high-tech e-commerce platforms and Main Street brick-and-mortar stores. They’re turning media sites into customer bases, creating affordable bespoke and luxury products and making the historically murky retail supply chain more transparent.
Meet the inaugural retail and e-commerce 30 Under 30 class of 2015, as chosen from a long-list of nominees by our judges Tommy Hilfiger, design icon; billionaire Spanx inventor Sara Blakely; and Neil Blumenthal, cofounder of $500 million eyewear brand Warby Parker.
Get to know the names and faces below (and check out our full interactive list) as they’ll be changing the way we shop for the next 30 years.
Take Emily Weiss. After three years interviewing celebs and fashionistas about their beauty habits and testing a heap of lotions and potions for her beauty site Into The Gloss, the former Vogue fashion assistant discovered a huge gap in the market: accessible, affordable products that feel luxurious without being frou-frou.
Now 29, Weiss is the founder and CEO of Glossier, a line of must-have beauty basics for the Instagram generation. She’s raised over $10 million, and she’s setting out to fill the gaps in a quarter of a trillion dollar industry that is, after all, still led by staid giants like L’Oreal and Estée Lauder.
Our youngest member of this first retail and e-commerce list is Chase Reed, aged 16. The Harlem-based teen entrepreneur has found a way to bet on sneaker futures with his “pawn shop” for $15,000 kicks. Still in high school, Reed works in tandem with his father to buy, trade and sell Air Jordans and other sought-after brands at his Sneaker Pawn store in Manhattan, which opened last June.
The bright youngsters in this group aren’t all in the fashion and beauty business, with many taking on unusual or niche industries. There’s 25-year-old Neil Parikh, cofounder of Casper, a mattress company with about $15 million in venture funding. Casper ships mattresses direct to consumers and boasts proprietary sleep technology.
Marco Zappacosta, 29, started Thumbtack, an e-commerce platform that helps users hire the right professional for personal projects like painting a home, learning a language, or planning a birthday party. The startup has raised $130 million to date, with Google Capital leading the most recent round.
What our retail and e-commerce 30 Under 30 have in common, besides their precocious success, is a single-minded drive.
For instance, Olga Vidisheva didn’t speak English at age 17 when she arrived in the U.S. from Kyrgyzstan, where she’d shopped at consignment stores as her family couldn’t afford new clothes. She saved up for college waiting tables at a New Mexico sushi restaurant, learning snippets of American idiom along the way.
Now the Wellesley grad and Harvard MBA runs Shoptiques, providing an e-commerce presence to boutiques and small stores that otherwise wouldn’t have one. There are 1,200 stores using the Shoptiques platform, and climbing. Vidisheva sees 2015 as a hyper-growth phase.