Three Female Tech Tycoons Prove Style and Startups Go Hand in Hand
The Craftswoman: Brit Morin, Brit + Co. founder and CEO
Brit Morin, the 27-year-old founder and ceo of the craftsy online wonderland Brit + Co., describes her style as “Kate Spade meets Martha Stewart”—an inventive sartorial approach that arose from her frustration with the high cost of pretty things. “Buying jewelry and accessories from a store can be quite expensive, but often they’re easy to make,” says the Russian Hill dweller, who moonlights as a tech correspondent for Katie Couric’s eponymous daytime talk show. For example, Wayfarer wannabes, tricked out with magnetic nail polish, will be the maker’s mark on Morin’s casual office look (Rag & Bone skinny jeans, a J.Crew chambray shirt, Rachel Comey booties). A homespun statement necklace might be the finishing touch on a more ladylike ensemble (color-saturated pencil skirt and lace-edged blouse from London-based Miss Selfridge).
In other words, it’s preppy with a dash of DIY and a hipster chaser—like the modish cocktail you might expect if Kate Spade (or, come to think of it, J.Crew’s head fashion plate, Jenna Lyons) grabbed the reins at the fad-driven Urban Outfitters. The aesthetic is a far cry from the purportedly style-starved landscape at Google, where Morin worked as a product marketer for almost four years, and where, she says, “I felt really awkward if I ever wore a skirt or a dress.”
Besides hawking handmade frills—duct-tape feather earrings, anyone?—on Brit + Co.’s e-commerce platform, Morin also posts dozens of her original fashion hacks. Got gold bobby pins? Transform them into an Aztec-inspired pendant with a little black and teal nail polish. Close to retiring that long-sleeve tee? With Morin’s instruction, it can become an obi sash or a high-waisted skirt. “I’m proud to wear something I’ve created!” says Morin.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy stands poolside wearing a Diane von Furstenberg dress, A.L.C. leather jacket, and Zara sandals. Photo by Thomas Kuoh
The Neo-Feminist: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Joyus founder and CEO
Even as a 23-year-old analyst at merrill lynch on wall street, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy would not be confined by the status quo, donning short skirts to work—a renegade hemline in a sea of boring black pantsuits. “I don’t believe in acting like a man in a man’s world,” says Singh Cassidy, founder and CEO of San Francisco’s Joyus, a video-driven e-commerce site she launched in 2011. “Women succeed because of their uniquely female traits—we’re great listeners, amazing multitaskers, and empathetic to boot. Why shouldn’t we also be able to express our femininity through fashion?”
Her miniskirt of yesteryear has become a sleek pencil silhouette, and it’s likely paired with a Zara blazer and four-inch patent-leather Prada pumps. The outfit is Singh Cassidy’s standard office attire at Joyus, which fittingly peddles, among other carefully curated goodies, statement pieces for the wardrobe (think Chaiken trousers and Chanel-inspired jackets). But take heed: The Atherton resident’s declaration of femininity—considered especially pioneering in the hoodie-dominated tech world—comes with a major caveat.
“You can’t just coast by on style. You also need credibility,” warns the 43-year-old mother of three, whose shrewd business savvy lead her to helm Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin America operations for nearly six years and landed her a short stint as CEO of the fashion commerce website Polyvore. “The combination of both does wonders for a woman’s most important asset—confidence.”
Sabrina Riddle in an Urban Zen top, Diesel Denim Gallery vest and trousers, Simply B Me scarf, and Lanvin loafers. Photo by Erin Kunkel
The Urbanist: Sabrina Riddle, PeopleBrowsr/Kred chief strategy officer
In defining the role that beautiful clothes play in her existence as a tech maven, Sabrina Riddle quotes The New York Times’ roving style photographer Bill Cunningham: “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” Luckily, part of Riddle’s daily grind involves a thoughtful participation in the Bay Area’s cutting-edge startup culture. “People all over the world think of us as innovators,” says Riddle, 47, chief strategy officer at PeopleBrowsr/Kred, an SF-based startup that leverages the clout of social media’s biggest influencers for the greater good of marketing strategies. “Showing up as fashion individualists helps reinforce that image.”
Each day, the FiDi resident creates a modernist look that juxtaposes sculptural, avant-garde pieces with those of the timeless variety. She may, for example, show up to a power lunch wearing skinny dark-wash Diesel denim and a draped long-sleeve knit top from Urban Zen by Donna Karan. If the mood strikes, she’ll pair a classic suit trouser by Theory with a raw-edged, tuxedo-style button-up from her own clothing line, Bind. And just to add dimension to an otherwise grayscale color palette, she might throw on a brushed-leather jacket by Rick Owens or, for what she calls “a fun neck-tie effect,” weave together scarves from AllSaints, Alexander McQueen, and her own upcoming line of accessories, Simply B Me.
Needless to say, the architectural silhouettes that dominate Riddle’s wardrobe convey a certain je ne sais quoi. It’s hardly a coincidence that someone in possession of such statement finery is also the person who calls the shots—the ultimate authority, if you will, on social-media trendsetters. “Fashion is empowerment,” she says.
This article was published in 7x7's March issue. Click here to subscribe.