We have often heard the phrase “beauty and brains”. One person who fits that description to a tea is Tyra Banks. She made a living by being beautiful then has gone on to run her own business.

You can say that Tryra came from broken home.  Born on December 4, 1973 in California, her parents divorced when she was six years old.  Some credits must go to her parents with the arrangement of having her stay with her mother on weekdays and with her father on weekends.

The arrangement seems to have worked just fine for her because she looked at it as having twice the fun.  She said she wound up having two birthday parties, two Christmas parties, and double the presents.  This is not the usual situation with divorced families. In any case at an early age Tyra was looking at the glass as being half full instead of half empty.

With her great looks and personality she experience being one of the popular girls in school only to become one of the freaky looking ones in high school and the butt of jokes when she started to grow very tall and lanky. She then used her height to her advantage by try her luck at modeling.

She faced rejections at first when apply at various modeling agencies until the world’s largest modeling agency Elite Model Management took her in. She went to Europe and became a hit super model in the early 90s. By mid 90s she was gaining weight and more curves, a no-no in the fashion model world.

This didn’t stop Tyra. She went back to the U.S. and did swimwear and lingerie modeling which appreciated the curves. She was one of the original Victoria’s Secret Angel models. She then used her successful modeling career and popularity to produce and host her own show “America’s Next Top Model”. It was a world-wide success and sealed her place as being an entrepreneur and not just another pretty face. This lady had brains, too.

She also produced and hosted the “Tyra Banks Show”.  She’s done movies, T.V. shows, singing, using her talents to as far as it would take her. She has her own fashion-related website, and managed to take a course at Harvard University, no less.

Fashion model, entrepreneur, beauty and brains, that’s Tyra Banks.


In 1997 famed fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered in Florida.  The death raised questions about the future of his international fashion house. While there were people who could run the business side of things, fashion was all about appealing yet distinctive designs from the fashion house. The one tasked to continue this critical part of Gianni’s legacy (which was basically what the business was all about) fell on his younger sister Donatella. She was appointed head of design.

These were certainly large shoes to fill. While Donatella had her share of the limelight alongside her famous brother, she was more of her brother’s side kick than a star designer in her own right. She had to prove herself and this she did.

Today Donatella is the Vice President of the board and Creative Director of the Versace Group and has been credited with moving the company beyond clothing into a complete lifestyle brand. This includes among others, going into the hotel business.

Donatella rose to the occasion endured hardships and challenges and has come out on top. She filled her brother’s shoe and in the process has created her own legacy as well.

Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss were classmates at Harvard Business School. Both grew up loving fashion; Hyman is a self-confessed shopaholic while Fleiss was very much enmeshed in the shopping culture of New York, having been brought up there. Both of them turned into fast friends, but neither one thought of creating a business together.

At home for Thanksgiving, Hyman’s sister complained of having nothing to wear despite a closet full of clothes. Right then and there, Hyman had that eureka moment. She thought that girls like her sister were a potential market for designer brands.  As soon as Hyman returned to Harvard, she pitched an idea to Fleiss that would be the vision for their business. Soon, Rent the Runway was born.

Today, Hyman and Fleiss’ Rent the Runway is the answer to many women wishing to live the Carrie Bradshaw experience where you can wear the latest in designer fashion for almost every occasion. The company has a fantastic collection of dresses from over 145 designers, and each of these dresses can be rented out for a small fraction of the original cost. Women can rent a designer dress at their members-only site for at least $50. Accessories are also available for a minimum of $10 per rental.

Designers also saw how this setup can improve customer loyalty and sales of their clothes, so it became a win-win situation for all parties.

As entrepreneurs, Hyman and Fleiss are still learning, with the help of their clients and technology. Launched in November 2009, their online catalogue has reached almost 500,000 members in just a matter of months. Although neither of them   came from a tech background, the partners were awarded as 2011’s most influential women in technology by Fast Company for their site’s success.

Rent the Runway of Hyman and Fleiss has truly revolutionized the fashion industry.