The Ballerina Turned Cabaret Rabble-Rouser The Citizen’s Band is an art project, a political statement, a modern time capsule, and—with its cabaret-esque choreography, singing, and trapeze work—dazzling entertainment. But as frontwoman-cofounder Sarah Sophie Flicker can attest, being many things to many people presents its own challenges. Especially when your grassroots collective has grown to become the gold standard of avant activism.
The Outcast Who Became an It GirlThere are many childhood memories director-DJ-designer Vashtie Kola would care to forget. But there’s one from the fifth grade that she wills herself to remember—a reminder of how far she’s come. “We didn’t have much of anything. And I remember getting made fun of for my K-Mart sneakers,” she says. (Her lucky schoolmates all wore Nikes.) “The entire class made fun of me because one kid started making fun of my sneakers.” This year, Kola just directed a fashion film for that discount chain. “I grew up on K-Mart!” she says proudly. “It really hits home—and it is so satisfying.”
The Designer Shaking Up Tattoo ArtIt may seem odd—whimsical, even—that after working in corporate design, Tina Roth Eisenberg has earned acclaim as an entrepreneur-mentor behind Tattly, her temporary-tattoo business. Where most of us see them as stickers for your skin, Eisenberg envisioned them as fresh canvases for illustration that can imbue even the most skeptical adult with childlike glee. “That’s so cool, right?” she marvels. “Now grown-ups are more excited about Tattly than kids.”
The Thinking Woman’s Beauty Writer“I’m not curing cancer here,” says Arabelle Sicardi, laughing. As one of the most energetic, studied personalities in the landscape of fashion-beauty journalism, she abides by this underlying philosophy: “It’s healthy to recognize that these are huge businesses about our bodies. But we are talking about tulle and hemlines. That’s really fun, even if it is a serious topic.”
The Entrepreneur Making Jewelry out of Bombs “It’s important to see failure as a really positive thing,” says Elizabeth Suda, cofounder and creative director of Article 22, an ethical jewelry site. “It’s part of any evolution.” Thanks to some misfortune, Suda ultimately founded the PeaceBomb project, which turns undetonated explosives into bracelets, and has won shout-outs from conscientious tastemakers such as Revlon brand-ambassador Olivia Wilde.
The Artist Turning Your Nails Into Accessories“A lot of people underestimate the power of an interesting manicure,” says Simcha Whitehill, better know as Miss Pop Nails, whose work can be seen in Elle, Marie Claire, and Style.com/Print, and on runways during New York Fashion Week. “I like making nails look like jewelry—accessories that extend through the hands.”
The Shop Owners Who’ll Make You a Conscious ConsumerThere’s a sci-fi movie from 1988 called They Live. It is by no means a good movie, Soraya Darabi, co-founder of the elegant online fashion retailer Zady, is quick to point out—but it did make her have an epiphany.
The Designer Empowering Women With Wearable Architecture“I’m very inspired by strong, powerful women,” says Becca McCharen, the designer behind the strappy-caged clothing line Chromat. Referencing everything from scaffolding to city maps to Paris’ Pompidou (one of her all-time favorite buildings), the former architect imbues traditionally coy corsetry with a futuristic confidence.
The Feel-Good Writer Democratizing Style CoverageWhen she was a teen, Nicolette Mason was bent on attending Parsons the New School for Design, famous for bolstering many of fashion’s vanguard. Like alums Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs before her, Mason has also gone on to carve out her own niche in that world, where the curvy wunderkind has become a much-loved multi-hyphenate.
The Fashionista Advancing Street StyleWhile living in England during a semester abroad, Amy Levin, founder of the site College Fashionista, snuck into London Fashion Week by pretending she was a reporter. “It’s so surreal that I get invited to shows now,” she says, “because it wasn’t so long ago that I had to sneak in.”
The Ultimate Career Wing-WomanMany startups are interesting. But few are compelling enough to count Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as an investor and billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett as a supporter.