30 Founders of Brands That Won Us Over

30 Founders

Of Brands That Won Us Over

by the team at Matte Black


This issue marks number 30 of the Shape Shift Report, a win for us in itself! To celebrate, we wanted to honor founders of brands who truly made an impression with us. The Matte Black team put together a list of 30 founders of brands that won us over.


Jen Gotch // Founder of Bando

Jen is Ban.do. Ban.do is Jen. Her witty, vibrant, playful and smart-as-hell approach to life is the backbone of this lifestyle brand. She literally cracked the code to fun, and has built a business around it.

Mike del POnte // Founder of SOMA Water

Soma really changed the game when it comes to filtered water pitchers (Brita who?) Not only is the product on point, but Mike is a founder who is as, if not more, passionate about his company culture and relationships as he is his product. A genuinely good person who's smart as hell.

Amanda Shine // FOunder of The Setting

Not only is she brilliant, talented and beautiful, she transitioned from events and brand partnerships to creating her own inspired line of handmade, gorgeous ceramic products.


Jeff Laub // Founder of Blind Barber

Imagine you stroll into a strip mall barber shop one evening. Drake's latest, "More Life", is playing over the speakers and men are getting their monthly trim. You drift through a door in the back, and suddenly find yourself in a lively bar atmosphere, with top tier cocktails and gourmet grilled cheese available for your consuming pleasure. Born in New York, the one-of-a-kind concept is the kind that should have felt obvious: barber shop up front, bar in the back, and completed by a retail selection of their own grooming products. But you didn't think of it first. This is the world Jeff Laub + partners have dreamed up, and we're mad thankful for it.

Ashley Merill // Founder of Lunya

Ashley's approach to sleepwear is refreshing, unique and ultimately, the kind of strategic balance between luxury and comfort.

Alex Matthews // Founder of Juice Served Here

Juice is everywhere now, so it takes a bit more stay in the public consciousness. What's given Juice Served Here staying power is a CEO + team that's selling something more than just juice. This juioe is an accessory to your day and it's made to be seen (and tastes good too). On top of this, their unconventional approach to retail (concept stores and cafes) is anything but cookie cutter. All hail JSH.


Aurora James // Founder of Brother Vellies

Creative Director and Founder of this CFDA-adored accessories brand, Aurora oozes cool. Her sustainable approach to design and slow--fashion manufacturing is the backbone of her brand, committing to producing her product in South Africa, and truly building something that has succinct social impact.

Christina Dee Topacio // Founder of Jig+Saw

Christina founded Jig+Saw to create a space that supports female-owned and female-run businesses. More than just a co-working space, Jig+Saw is an environment that fosters creativity and positivity by providing the tools and resources it's members need to succeed.

Peter Buchanan-Smith // Founder of Best Made Co.

BMC empowers people to get outside, reconnect with their hands and nature, and in doing so, embark on a life of great adventure. Truly a company that sticks by it's value. Which can be summed up in Courage, Compassion, Grace and Fortitude.


Jen Rubio & Stephanie Korey // Co-Founders of Away Luggage

Away is a direct-to-consumer, brialliant luggage company. Jen and Stephanie are both Warby Parker alums and solved the problem between ultra expensive and ultra cheap luggage options. We adore the Away solution of their well-designed and highly functional carry-on for only $225. What a steal!

Ariel Kaye // Founder of Parachute Home

Ariel has disrupted the old-school bedding industry with her direct-to-consumer brand Parachute. Through transparency, quality product and killer content, Ariel has changed the way people think about and buy bedding.

Tim Brown // Founder of Allbirds

Sleek, stylish, and extremely comfortable. Tim Brown has created a fashionable and breathable shoe out of the most unsuspecting material - wool.


Roy & Ryan Seiders // Co-Founders of Yeti Coolers

Built for tall tales and epic adventures. YETI was founded out of a need for a better adventure companion. They have seem to recently explode on the scene over the last year with their simple but quality product offering. We applaud them for staying true to their nature. It took 10 years, but now they are a household name.

Bayard Winthrop // Founder of American Giant

Based out of SF, American Giant designed the world's best hoodie. They are obsessed with staying at the edge of your abilities. Uncomfortable is what they eat for breakfast. Their passion to rebuild American manufacturing by creating a product that is truly deserving of the name.

Jasmin Larian // Founder of Cult Gaia

Born into an entrepreneurial family, Jasmin had the chops from day one. What started as a refreshing approach to turbins in flavorful prints and colors blossomed into a full collection - from accessories to apparel - and even retail.


John has always seen things his own way. He launched an eyewear brand to keep you ready for the creative pursuit. With an army of musicians, photographers, athletes, and fine artists in his friend group, SICKY constantly puts the creator first in product and brand messaging.

Lindsay Jang // Founder of MISSBISH

Lindsay is one impressive chick: having founded not one but four businesses - spanning from restaurants to media platforms - all while raising two kids and finding time for her yoga practice. She oozes strength and confidence, but what's most impressive is her ability to empower her teams to do their best work by avoiding the micro and focusing on the macro.

Derek Sabori // Founder of The Kozm

After leading Volcom to a better future as their VP of Global Sustainability, he has now brought the innovation to a Men's focused yoga line: The Kozm. From manufacturing, to product design, the website, and beyond. The brand is dialed in not only on its purpose, but also its offering.


Ryan O'Donovan & Colby Barr // Founders of Verve Coffee

Hometown boys who have driven the same vision to ten years of business and respect in their industry. They started with creating the best product possible and then let the hype build organically. When talking about brands that have stuck to their core message, talk Verve Coffee.

Sonja Rasula // Founder of Unique

The best way to put it is this: Sonja just gets shit done. She has an idea, and she does it. Creates it, gathers the community, cares about the details, and leaves her mark. From building a consumer shopping event, to a creatives camp, to taking over a defunct warehouse and turning it into a three-story creative co-working space, this woman is one to watch.

Lisa & Lauren Goldfaden // Founders of Goldfaden MD

Talk about a duo. What started as a clinical skincare brand created by Lisa's father (and Lauren's father-in-law), was completely reinvisioned and redeveloped through the lens of these two women, and is now one of the most sought-after organic skincare brands on the market in both the US and the UK.


Chelsea Sonksen // Founder of BossLadies

Working women's clubs are a recent trend, but Chelsea Sonksen has won my heart with her community-building model. From hosting talks with boss ladies in the states, to bringing women together for work sessions, to throwing all of this together in a print magazine, Boss Ladies Magazine has taken girl boss to the next level. If you're not ready to get out there and get shit done after diving into this site, then I don't know what else will motivate you.

Nikisha Brunson // Founder of Folie Apothecary

When it comes to #influencers in the wellness space, there are many. But none of them nail it quite like Nikisha Brunson has in the past few years. In addition to gaining a community due to her knowledge of products and educational videos, Nikisha launched Folie Apothecary, taking her methods from YouTube and Instagram videos to an IRL Etsy store.

Valentine Ozich // Founder of ILoveUgly

Perhaps we have this brand started the five panel hat and dropcrotch pants crazes in men's fashion. Valentin has created a truly unique brand that is isolated from the politics of the contemporary fashion world. Tucked away in Wellington, NZ I Love Ugly finds has managed to be a unique and standout voice in men's streetwear fashion.


Puno Dostres // Founder of ILOVECREATIVES

Puno is an uber-networker, super smart tech nerd, life of the party and more creative than you. Puno founded both ILOVECREATIVES and PeopleMap because she simply saw a need for them on a personal level. She has really made a dent in how we view social media growth and campaigns with PeopleMap, and classified ads with ILOVECREATIVES.

Jihan Zencirli // Founder of Geronimo Balloons

She's witty, honest, and brought balloon art into a new level of cool. She's also a kick ass business gal who was on the forefront of redeeming the DIY craft movement and has collaborated with some of the coolest brands and venues such as Warby Parker and the ACE Hotel.

Cyndi Ramirez // Founder of Chillhouse NYC

NYC-based Cyndi Ramirez is no stranger to entrepreneurship. From founding restaurants to editorial sites to a skincare line, Cyndi is a true lifestyle expert and influencer. Her newest venture? Chillhouse - a haven from the hustle and bustle of the city where stressed New Yorkers can come have a coffee, get spa services, and just chill. You can say we're a fan.



Tuesday Bassen // Founder of Shop Tuesday

Tuesday is truly an inspiration. Despite being in a lawsuit with Zara for stealing her work, she managed to perservere and open Shop Tuesday, an online shop dedicated to that tongue-in-cheek #girlpower tone. In addition to killing it at the e-commerce game, she recently opened FriendMart, a brick and mortar in ChinaTown. I mean, really, she sticks it to the man in every way possible.

Caitlin Crosby // Founder of The Giving Keys

Founder and CEO of the Giving Keys. A social entreprise working with people who are transitioning out of homelessness. Each product purchased goes to helping develop jobs and support for the homeless community. She is also a singer/songwriter recognized on Oprah's Super Soul 100.

Nadia Aboulhosn // Founder of By Nadia Aboulhosn

Lebanese 28-year-old Los Angeles-based blogger, model and fashion designer. She designs clothes that help curvy women feel good about what they are wearing. Empowering those who might not fit the typical fashion body type.