Six Out-of-the-Box Businesses to Support on Entrepreneurs’ Day

Fly By Jing sauce, Finn pet supplement, Caire Beauty Theorem Serum, Cloud Paper toilet paper, Doughp edible cookie dough, and a City Bonfires portable bonfire

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The U.S. has celebrated National Entrepreneurs’ Day since 2010, when former President Barack Obama declared the third week of November to be National Entrepreneurship Week. It’s an opportunity — and a mandate — to appreciate and support the innovative risk-takers injecting life into the economy. 

Supporting entrepreneurs is a bit like maintaining biodiversity in an ecosystem: Small businesses are just as vital to the overall health of our communities and economy as larger companies. According to a 2018 report, small businesses make up about 44 percent of economic activity in the United States, and they employ about 47 percent of U.S. employees. 

Beyond the numbers, many entrepreneurs are revolutionizing industries that haven’t changed in decades and making commitments to helping their communities along the way. Take Ryan Fritsch and Austin Watkins, for example, who co-founded Cloud Paper in 2019. Their company makes paper towels and toilet paper — which typically contribute to 20 percent of deforestation — out of bamboo instead of trees. It’s an innovation that charts a more sustainable course for paper goods going forward: Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, and making toilet paper out of it generates significantly less greenhouse gas emissions than tree-based toilet paper. And they work just as well as the traditional stuff, too.

To celebrate Entrepreneurs’ Day, we’ve rounded up six companies with founders who are rethinking their industries, serving neglected consumers, or just making damn-good products. To read about other inspiring founders and their game-changing businesses, check out Katie’s Shop!

City Bonfires

Michael Opalski and Chris McCasland

City Bonfires’ founding is a true lemonade-from-lemons story: Dads and neighbors Chris McCasland and Michael Opalski worked in the sports and concert/restaurant industries, respectively, and were suddenly without jobs or incomes when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Though they didn’t know each other well before the pandemic, McCasland and Opalski started spending time together outside while stuck at home, and put their heads together to design a mini bonfire that’s portable and convenient to use. The pair makes every petite bonfire by hand, using U.S.-made steel and nontoxic soy wax, and  they’ve sold hundreds of thousands of them since launching in the summer of 2020. The candle-sized tins are perfect for bringing on camping or hiking trips, or just over to a friend’s backyard for a super-simple way to make s’mores and stay warm. 

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Kelsey Moreira

After struggling with alcoholism for years, Kelsey Moreira got sober in 2015, with the help of her love for baking. The kitchen became her refuge as she recovered, and over the course of many, many hours of therapeutic baking, Moreira found an egg substitute that made her cookie dough safe to eat and just as delicious when baked. Moreira decided to channel her passion into a business, leaving her decade-long career in tech to found Doughp and challenge the stigma against mental health along the way. Open conversations about mental health are intertwined with Doughp’s mission from the ground up: This year, Doughp is donating 1 percent of profits to She Recovers, an organization helping women in recovery find support in community, therapy, and other resources. 

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Caire Beauty

Lorrie King and Celeste Lee

Women over the age of 40 have a huge amount of buying power, but are consistently ignored by most marketers. Friends and beauty-industry veterans Celeste Lee and Lorrie King took matters into their own hands with Caire Beauty, a skincare line formulated to work for women in their cohort. While most “anti-aging” skincare products are designed to work for anyone over the age of 25, Caire’s products are made specifically to address the wrinkles, bags, discoloration, dryness, acne, and other skin issues women experience due to hormonal decline. Lee and King call it “Defiance Science,” and it’s pretty amazing: Caire’s mask and serum are made to infuse the skin with hyaluronic acid molecules that hydrate and strengthen it from the inside out. It’s the first skincare of its kind, and Lee and King are thrilled to share it with the world.

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Cloud Paper

Ryan Fritsch and Austin Watkins

Like we mentioned above, Ryan Fritsch and Austin Watkins founded Cloud Paper to revolutionize the household paper goods industry. They’re methodical in their approach, from sourcing responsibly grown bamboo to donating products to nonprofits and offsetting the carbon emissions from shipping and transportation. Since Fritsch and Watkins started the company in 2019, Cloud Paper has already saved or offset more than 1 million pounds of carbon. They partner with CarbonFund to offset their emissions, and bamboo toilet paper creates 30 percent less greenhouse-gas emissions than traditional toilet paper. And they’re just getting started: Cloud Paper is on a mission to save a billion trees, one roll at a time.

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Fly By Jing

Jing Gao

Fly By Jing is the culmination of founder Jing Gao’s self-discovery, after growing up in an environment where she didn’t feel she belonged. Born in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan Province, Gao went by Jenny while growing up in Europe. Gao returned to Chengdu — and her given name — in adulthood, when she opened a restaurant that worked with the traditional flavors of the province where she was born, but with her unique spin. Ultimately, Gao founded Fly By Jing as a kind of manifesto. Her richly flavorful, multi-layered sauces and spices don’t conform to anyone’s idea of “Chinese” food but her own, and you can incorporate them into whatever you’re whipping up, from stir-fry to ice cream to charcuterie boards.

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James Shalhoub

If you’ve ever wondered why the packaging on pet products practically screams “Not for human consumption,” you’re not alone. Even if you’re not actually planning on using your dog’s salmon oil on your own food, it might make you wonder about the quality of what’s going into your pup’s body. Inspired by his experience founding and running a wellness company, as well as the unconditional love of his dog, James Shalhoub founded Finn to provide dog-owners with supplements they could trust. Finn’s supplements are made in the U.S. in a plant certified with the National Animal Supplement Council, ensuring the highest quality and efficacy possible. 

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