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20 Hottest Rising Female Stars of 2020


This year’s best and brightest include female philanthropists, artists, community leaders, athletes, educators and entrepreneurs—all nominated by friends, family, coworkers, admirers, and Women's Business Journal editors.

Sarah Kaeck, Founder, Bee's Wrap

Kaeck started Bee's Wrap in 2012 as a way to eliminate plastics in her own kitchen.  Now Bee's Wrap is a company which has helped people worldwide stored food in a way that's safe for the environment. 

Brittany Gorevic, Founding Partner, Lattice Ventures

Gorevic left her position as General Manager at Union Square Ventures to launch Lattice Ventures. Prior to joining USV she was an entrepreneur who co-founded travel startup Gtrot, which was backed by the Groupon co-founders.

Sabrina Mutukisna, Founder and CEO, The Town Kitchen

Sabrina Mutukisna started The Town Kitchen to deliver chef-crafted meals to San Francisco Bay-area businesses.  She hires low-income youth and trains them to prepare the meals, and this hands-on training can help them prepare for successful careers.

Loren Brill, Founder and CEO, Sweet Loren's

Three months out of college, Brill was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Facing six months of chemo, she moved home to New York City and plunged into baking, a lifelong hobby. Word of mouth about her creations took off, and in 2011, Brill, now healthy, launched Sweet Loren's, a line of all-natural, preservative-free cookie doughs and brownie batters.

Jessica Carso, Development Director, Connecticut Humanities

Jessica Carso’s philanthropic work has put her in high demand in the nonprofit sector, but, more importantly, as an advocate for social change she’s making a difference in people’s lives. Carso’s effective fundraising helped launch Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center into the forefront of the Middletown arts community. She now is Director of Development for Connecticut Humanities, and is passionate about her volunteer work with the Middlesex County Community Foundation, where she helps to raise money for programs that will empower women and girls in the county to be self-reliant and reach their full potential.

Chion Wolf, Producer, WNPR’s “The Colin McEnroe Show”

It was Chion Wolf’s charitable spirit that opened doors for her at WNPR. After she volunteered for one of the station’s fund drives in 2006, the good deed led to an internship and eventually to “The Colin McEnroe Show” as announcer, producer, writer and occasional sidekick.  Wolf also spends her time helping out arts organizations and many causes in the Greater Hartford community. She's also a founding member of the Hartford Hot Several marching band, in which she plays trash can bass drum, and champions the Hartford Has It campaign.

Lily Gagliardi, Heart Disease Prevention Activist

Lily Gagliardi was born with an extra pathway in her heart. The condition was difficult to diagnose and wasn’t identified until she was in high school. Surgery corrected the defect, but her experience inspired her to start Lily’s Kids Inc. to educate and help other young people with similar heart conditions. Her work led to last year’s passage of a law in Connecticut that now requires hospitals to screen for heart disease in all newborns. She also developed the Heart Yourself program that teaches children and their families how to keep their hearts healthy (she presented the program at the 2012 National Health Promotion Summit in Washington, D.C.). Last year the Connecticut General Assembly awarded Lily a special citation for her continuing efforts as a community leader.

Rebecca Minkoff, Designer

Rebecca Minkoff launched her own clothing line in 2001 with $10,000 in savings. Three years later, and running out of funds, she used her final grand to design a purse she dubbed the Morning After Bag because it could fit all the essentials. Orders started flowing, and her brother, Uri, CEO and co-founder, loaned her seed money and helped her get started.  In 2009, she jumped back into apparel.  These days, her namesake firm has 73 employees, and its wares are sold in more than 700 stores around the world, including three company-owned shops in Japan and South Korea. Revenue reached $60 million in 2012, up from $35 million the prior year, and grew 40% in 2013.  This spring, Ms. Minkoff will open her first New York City store, and branches in Los Angeles and San Francisco are in the works.

Anya Kielar, Multimedia Artist and Sculptor

Growing up in New York City's Soho neighborhood in the '80s, Kielar constantly visited galleries with her parents. In 2005, her Columbia MFA thesis project — inspired by an Oscar Wilde children's story — was picked up by a major gallery, selling out in less than two weeks. Subsequent exhibits have earned Kielar comparisons to Andy Warhol. Her fourth solo show opens this fall.

Megan McConville, President and Owner, Offshore Construction Inc.

In an industry dominated by men, McConville’s ownership of a full-service commercial and industrial roofing contracting company may seem like an accomplishment in itself, but she’s also grown the business—which handles new roof construction and re-roofing projects as well as specializing in solar and green roofing. In the past three years, Offshore has gone from five employees to nearly 20 while profits have increased by more than 400 percent. As with any construction-related effort, it helps that she started with a solid foundation: Her father and grandfather also ran their own roofing businesses. Recent clients have included ESPN, Mystic Seaport, Riverview Hospital and Yale Divinity School.

Dr. Anne Marie, Founder and CEO of Math Musical Minds, Inc.

This founder and CEO got her undergraduate degree at Harvard in Mathematics, and her PhD at Oxford, and started singing in hospitals and nursing homes to sick children as a teenager.  She later formed volunteer groups across the U.S. to do the same thing, and then began creating original music and animation to expose children both to mathematics, and to the hospital and doctor's office.  This led her to found Math Musical Minds in spring 2014, which is the first company started by a Harvard and Oxford mathematician and musician to use original music and animation to expose toddlers to 'scary' topics like math, doc visits, and hospitals.  A line of apps and games is in production.

Mika Mayer, Partner at Morrison & Foerster Law Firm

Ohio native Mayer earned money for law school with a job helping small-time investors protect their ideas. After joining the Palo Alto office of international law firm Morrison & Foerster, she cofounded its venture intellectual property practice, and at 31 became the firm's youngest partner.

Kara Bartelt, Design Principal, Lettuce Office

Bartelt's Buffer House, a 2,500-square-foot energy-efficient home encased in greenery, won an international award. Her next project, a solar array for Occidental College, will remove 1,250 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. And toHOLD, her line of designed objects incorporating tillandsia air plants, is a top seller on Etsy.

Katrina Markoff, Founder and CEO, Vosges Haut-Chocolat

While a student at Le Cordon Bleu in France, Markoff started mixing chocolate with unlikely flavors like curry, taleggio, and wasabi. In 1998 she opened her first store in Chicago, and her combinations caught on; within a year she was in Neiman Marcus. Mail-order and catalogue sales followed; now Vosges is sold in 2,000 stores (including eight of its own boutiques) and has spawned competitors (Godiva is said to have attempted several Vosges-like products), and this year, after multiple requests from Wal-Mart and Target, Markoff launched a lower-priced line for mass merchants.

Libby Wadle, Executive Vice President--Retail and Direct, J. Crew

J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler surprised many this spring when he named Wadle as a potential successor. But Wadle, a retail savant who honed her skills at Gap and Coach, has been stealthily climbing the ladder at J. Crew for years. She's shown a knack for growing new concepts, like the outlet division (she doubled its store count and tripled its sales) and Madewell, J. Crew's buzzy sister brand. Wadle now runs the preppy clothier's entire retail division and its direct-sales operation. In other words, the top spot keeps getting closer.

Alli Webb, Founder, Drybar

Drybar founder Alli Webb turned blowouts into a booming business. Since 2010, Webb, who runs the company with her brother, Michael Landau and her husband, Cameron Webb, has opened 30 blow dry salons (no cuts, no color) across the country, serving up a streamlined menu of styles to some 100,000 customers a month. They’re on track to hit $40 million in revenue this year, thanks also to a new line of styling products and tools, which beauty retailer Sephora picked up in an exclusive deal.

Bridget Hilton, Founder, LSTN Sound Company

Hilton created LSTN, a company that donates hearing aids to children overseas for each set of headphones they sell. The startup has already been able to help 19,000 people in the U.S., Peru, Kenya, Uganda, China and Sri Lanka. In 2018, they’ll continue to expand into new international markets.

Sophia Amoruso, Owner, Nasty Gal

Amoruso is the author of "Girl Boss", and the founder and owner of Nasty Gal.

Maelle Gavet, COO, Compass

Gavet left a leadership role at Priceline to transition to real estate startup Compass.  Gavet is a serial entrepreneur who started her first company at 16.

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