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Leah Freed, 37

Office managing shareholder Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. Freed is one of just a few female managing shareholders of a major Phoenix law firm and has become a respected leader in the international law firm, which has more than 700 lawyers in more than 45 offices. Freed has experience defending employment-related lawsuits in state and federal courts.

Xenia Kachur, 26

Founder and CEO Kulira Technologies

Isabella Weems: “I think passion and determination are often the keys to success in anything you do. I feel very fortunate to find success in doing what I love and I enjoy finding ways to inspire others to do the same.”

charmed life OF A TEEN In three years, Valley teen has created a $250-million-a-year jewelry empire By MICHAEL GOSSIE


ike most 14-year-olds, Isabella “Bella” Weems dreamed of having her own car. “I’ve always had a passion for fashion and jewelry ever since I was little,” the Gilbert high school senior says. “When I made the decision to save money to buy a car, I did quite a bit of research and brainstorming before coming up with the idea of personalizing lockets with charms to tell a story.” That moment of brilliance led to the creation of Origami Owl, a custom jewelry company that uses independent associates – known as “designers” – and turns them into a sales force. The company, which Weems founded in 2010 at age 14, generated an estimated $250 million in revenue in 2013, a 10-fold increase over 2012. So how did she do it? “After some success selling out at house parties and local events, I decided to rent a (Chandler Fashion Center) kiosk for Black Friday 2010,” Weems says, “and it did really well. That was the moment I knew we had something special.”

Origami Owl now has more than 50,000 independent designers who buy the personalized lockets and charms at a discount and sell them to others at a marked-up price at jewelry bars or private parties. The company also employs nearly 400 people in the company’s Chandler headquarters. So what does a teen tycoon do for an encore after creating a $250-milliona-year-company before she’s even old enough to vote? “School always comes first and I am in the process of deciding what my next step will be after I graduate from high school,” Weems says. “I will always be involved with my company and would like to see Origami Owl become a household name, but I also have a passion for singing and writing music too. I love being on the road speaking to young girls about reaching their dreams and NE encouraging others to be XT a force for good.” NEXT Isabella Weems, 17, founder and owner of Origami owl

While still a student at the University of Arizona in 2011, Kachur founded Kulira Technologies, an advanced biomedical engineering company that designs solutions for surgical oncology using stateof-the-art biomaterials. Kulira Technologies is improving the process of cancer biopsies.

Jennifer Kaplan, 39

Owner and CEO Evolve Public Relations and Marketing Kaplan is a familiar face in the Valley with years of start-up experience. She co-founded PRIME 3, LLC, in 2005 before deciding to start her own firm in 2010. Her clients range from restaurants, retail, entertainment, real estate, medical, legal and nonprofit organizations.



23 AB | January-February 2014

AzBusiness Jan/Feb 2014  

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