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The Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Businesses

Sarah KaussIn 2009, Harvard Business School grad Sarah Kauss was on a hike in Arizona with her mother when she realized she didn't much feel like drinking the water that had been baking in the sun in her metal bottle. She suddenly had a vision for the container she wished she'd had, a bottle that was more like a thermos, with a sleek design in a pretty color. Back in New York, while working her day job in commercial real estate development, she found a designer who created a curvy prototype she then had manufactured in China in a pretty ocean blue. Though there were already plenty of re-usable water bottles on the market, Kauss's, which she dubbed S'well, stood out because of its distinctive design and its capacity to keep liquids cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. Her big break came in 2011 when O, the Oprah Magazine, wanted to include S'well on its O List of great products. But the editors wanted a colorful photo so Kauss, who was still working solo, scrambled to produce six more colors, including seashell pink and rowboat red.

S'well has since boomed, with accounts at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus and Starbucks. Revenue has shot up in the last two years, from just under $10 million in 2013 to $47 million last year. Kauss, 40, employs 40 people in her office in Manhattan's Flatiron district, and plans to hire 10 more staffers this year. She says when she started out, she thought she could convince customers that re-usable bottles were good for the environment but she's realized that fashion is what sells. "It's a lot easier to convince people to buy a well-made product that's by their favorite designer," she says, "instead of making them feel bad about how many plastic bottles wound up in the ocean last year."

Because of its rapid rise, S'well took the number one slot in a new ranking of the fifty fastest-growing women-owned or led companies put together by the Women Presidents' Organization(WPO), a New York-based group founded in 1997 to offer female entrepreneurs mentoring and support. American Express sponsors the list. WPO hosts roundtable events with professional facilitators who own their own businesses through its 129 chapters in the U.S. and 13 countries overseas, spanning Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Africa. Nineteen hundred members pay dues ranging from $900 to $5,000 a year, depending on their company's revenue, to attend meetings and an annual conference.

For the last nine years WPO has put out its "50 Fastest" list. There is no fee to be considered for the list, which reaches outside its membership roster for candidates. It sends applications to 25,000 women-owned businesses on a list it's developed over time. Applicants don't pay to participate. To qualify, businesses need to have had $50,000 in revenue by 2011 and at least $2 million by 2015. The pool of qualified businesses this year came to 400. Then WPO had a CPA calculate the growth rates.

See Our Range Of S'well Bottles

Source: Susan Adams www.forbes.com

How Iris Apfel made growing old cool

Putting the max into maximalism, it’s Iris Apfel in a gorgeous photo shoot for the FT’s How To Spend It fashion special (out this weekend).

The Tweed Run 2015

I've been spending a few days with family and friends and attempting a Digital Detox. With the occasional Instagram moment, like yesterday's splendid Tweed Run.

Isabella Rossellini is back chez Lancome

Well, well, well, plus ça change. Lancôme have appointed serene beauty Isabella Rossellini as their latest muse. Quelle ironie! writes Vicci Bentley. Those of us old enough to cast their minds back twenty or so years ago will remember a time when she and Lancôme such blockbusters as perfume Trésor and anti-ageing cream Bienfait du Matin were indivisible until quelle horreur!

Better Than Ever

In another good week for Ageless Style, Barneys unveiled a Better Than Ever advertising campaign (great name, might have to borrow that) featuring mature models Pat Cleveland, 64, activist and founder of the Diversity Coalition Bethann Hardison and Christie Brinkley who was 61 this week.

BEHIND THE RUNWAY: DIANE ON THE SS16 INSPIRATION

BEHIND THE RUNWAY: DIANE ON THE SS16 INSPIRATION

Here, Diane takes a break from the post-show whirlwind to dish on the inspiration behind theSpring 2016 collection, the silhouettes she's most excited about, and the lessons bound to live beyond fashion week.

What was the inspiration behind the collection?

Iman Looks Forward

The supermodel, who turned 60 this weekend, opens up about her iconic past and eventful future.

Ageless Style

What a fantastic week it's been for Ageless Style. Selfridges launched their Bright Old Things campaign, next came St Joan of Céline and finally the unveiling of Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent Paris.

The best way to wear a neck scarf

Summer’s neckerchief trend has come at the perfect moment. My neck is the latest in a long line of body parts that has started to sag. But rather than feel bad about it I’ve decided to tie a scarf, rather than myself, up in knots.

Isabella Rossellini interview: on ageism in Hollywood and the fashion industry

Still radiant but now single at 62, Isabella Rossellini is returning briefly to acting after all but giving it (and men) up to pursue an unlikely new passion: farming
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