Vital Stats

Stacey Bendet, 30, of Alice + Olivia in New York City

Company

Women's contemporary clothing company

Making the Cut

In her New York City showroom, Stacey Bendet looks collected and cool, seated cross-legged on a yellow beanbag, BlackBerry in hand. Once a website designer, Bendet is now known for a different kind of design: cashmere sweaters, tailored tops and minidresses. Described by Bendet as "quirky and sexy but wearable," her creations are available in more than 500 stores worldwide and have been worn by the likes of Angelina Jolie. Sitting pretty but far from sitting still, Bendet just opened two more retail stores, bringing the total to seven; launched a children's clothing line as well as a shoe line in collaboration with Payless ShoeSource; and is creating a line of home furnishings. Says Bendet, "I love making things."

Back to Basics

Bendet's first stitch to success started with a simple pair of pants. With a father in the fabric industry and a tendency to make her own clothes when she was growing up, she stayed true to her character when she spied a bold striped upholstery fabric and hired a patternmaker to create a fun and crazy pair of pants. Wearing them out sparked buzz, and when a friend asked her to do a fashion show, the designs caught the attention of a Barneys New York representative. Her signature striped pants collection, Just Pants, launched at the high-end department store soon after in 2002, and, just like that, Bendet had a flourishing business under her belt.

Perfect Fit

As her fashions fly off the racks, Bendet has kept her ego in check, carefully choosing employees who can move the company forward. "I've always felt that the best managers hire people who are better than themselves," she explains. "My president is better than me, and that's what I've tried to do in every department."