Emory Holiday Buying Guide

Alumni find success in businesses focusing on fun, food, fashion, and functionality

Saving shaving

There are certain things men talk about—sports, women, the hassle of buying razors. Michael Dubin 01C decided to turn his irritation with the "razor-buying experience" into a "no BS" business model that has flipped the shaving business on its head with his outrageously popular Dollar Shave Club (DSC). Dubin launched the membership-based, mail-delivery service in March 2012 with a YouTube video that quickly went viral. The company's humorous advertising and member-focused marketing has gained it a loyal following. In addition to several types of razor blades, dsc also sells its own line of non-razor products including Dr. Carver's Easy Shave Butter, One Wipe Charlie's personal wipes, Dr. Carver's Magnanimous Post Shave, Dr. Carver's Miracle Repair Serum, and, most recently, Boogie's, a new line of hair styling products. "We're here to solve problems for guys," Dubin says. "Men are frustrated. dsc wants to eliminate that frustration."

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Good fun

Eric Poses 95C grew up playing board game classics like Monopoly, Sorry!, and Trivial Pursuit, as well as poker, chess, backgammon—"I'll play anything, and I'll try to turn anything into a game," he says. Not long after graduating from Emory with a degree in history, he quit his job at an ad agency to work on inventing games of his own. Loaded Questions, a tabletop game designed to test just how well players know each other, is now sold across the country in more than five thousand outlets, including Target, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Poses also created the Awkward Family Photos Movie Line Caption Game, and is working on a game called All Life's Answers. "I'm a tabletop game guy," he says. "I'm really impressed with the creativity of video games, but nothing can replace the interaction and conversation that takes place around a board game." Maybe that's why Poses, his wife, and their two kids play games for about an hour a day. The original Loaded Question board game, a new party edition, and Poses's other games are available on their website.

View Loaded Questions Website


Eddie Kovel 13B, founder and CEO of Playout, conceptualized Playout: The Game based on a single guiding principle: "Everyone wants to be fit, but few of us enjoy the process of getting there. Playout is based on the idea that we can achieve the results we've always wanted if we enjoy the process. Exercise is meant to be fun," he says. Kovel designed Playout cards as a pocket-sized solution for a portable and enjoyable exercise routine. Designed for solo or group play, the game also includes a free mobile app to be used with the card game that includes a stopwatch, timer, achievements, score keeping, and game rules. The original Playout game and other Playout merchandise are available on their website.

View Playout website

Are we there yet?

Seeking a way to entertain her young daughters on long road trip, Kristin Miller Burrell 97L created a spur-of-the-moment game to keep the peace. "The kids were getting antsy, so I made up a word and asked them what did they think it meant. They both came up with different definitions of the word, and I picked my favorite one, so that player won," Burrell says. Tagged with the moniker Redonkulary, the game became a tradition shared with family and friends, all of whom loved the silly and hilarious way to pass the time. Following a lifelong dream, Burrell quit her corporate job and started her own company to bring Redonkulary! The Game of Imag-ilar-ious Words! to market.

View Redonkulary website

Green with envy

Gideon Sarraf 05C has started a spicy revolution with Musashi Foods, his company that offers a line of distinctive sauces that are shaking up tradition and adding something new to spice-lovers's tables. Mushashi Foods's product line includes Midori Green Sriracha, a Japanese-inspired, serrano-chile based version of the highly popular Thai red chile and garlic sauce; and Japanese Spicy Mayo. Sarraf's Midori Green Sriracha even won a taste test against the iconic god-father of sriracha sauces on the popular website Thrillist, and Sarraf's story was featured in a Bloomberg Business video. Musashi Foods products are available at retail locations and at their website.

View Musashi Food website

All that glitters

As a young girl, Alexandra Beth Samit 09B was drawn to pretty things. That early design sensibility was the early precursor to Alexandra Beth Designs, Samit's blossoming jewelry design business. After graduating from Emory, Samit launched her jewelry-making venture out of her parents' home, selling her designs to small local retailers. Encouraged by her success, she moved to New York, where she became the youngest member of a soho-based designer collective.

View Samit's full jewelry line

Candy is dandy

Owned and run by husband and wife team Stefano Zullian 03MBA and Carla Susi 03MBA, and her sister, Silvana Susi, Araya Artisan Chocolate in Houston specializes in handcrafted chocolates made using all-natural, fair trade, 100% single-origin cacao from small farmers in Venezuela, the trio's home country. After quitting corporate jobs to work in the factory of a close friend and owner of another artisan chocolate maker, they created their own recipes catering to the American palate and opened their first shop in Houston in 2010. Araya has three locations in the Houston area and ships their confections within the continental US. Emory buyers get 15 percent off on any order with coupon code "GO-EMORY" with no expiration date.

View a full list of treats

Sweet success

Grey Ghost Bakery's founder Katherine Frankstone 83C learned the craft of baking alongside her father. After a career in lending and nonprofit fund-raising, Frankstone turned organizational and culinary talents to growing a gourmet business. Using cookie recipes handed down generation after generation, she hopes to evoke the comfort of homemade treats. "Family moments mean everything, and special treats are always at the heart of great memories. I want to recreate that feeling in every bite." Sold in stores around the country, including Whole Foods Market and the Fresh Market,

Grey Ghost Bakery cookies and gift baskets

Making time

Emory friends Drew Deters 02C, Jay Hartington 01B, and Joe Anto 00B "share a love of adventure, discovery, and living life to its fullest." Reunited postcollege in New York City, the three of them started RumbaTime with the simple idea of "making time keep up with your life, instead of the other way around." Deters, a world-class cyclist prior to founding Rumba-Time, saw the need for a watch brand that captured a fun lifestyle, fashion, and economic good sense for those who wanted luxury that came with a modest price point. RumbaTime has more than twenty collections, each named after the New York City locales—iconic spots such as Brooklyn, Gramercy, TriBeCa, Bowery, and NoLIta—that inspire creative timepieces made from a mix of silicone, leather, chain, and fabric.

View Rumbatime Watches

Luxury loungewear

Founder of the highly popular resort wear line Escapada Living, Natalia Castillo 85C says dedication to style, comfort, and quality is one of the characteristics that has put Escapada at the forefront of resort wear fashion. "A woman has to feel comfortable and look good for fashion to succeed." In 2014, Escapada was named to Inc. Magazine's list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in America. The brand's line of colorful, island-inspired designs can be found in the Escapada Signature Store in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., resort retail locations, and online.

View Escapada website

The shoe fits

Launched in early 2014, Cobbler Union embodies what Daniel Porcelli 03MBA describes as a "passion and obsession" for custom-made items. "A nice pair of shoes doesn't just dress you up. It grows you up," Porcelli says. Working with artisans in Spain, Porcelli designs Cobbler Union's line of high-quality calfskin shoes to endure and has harnessed the power of the online retail market to make meticulously handcrafted luxury footwear more affordable. Porcelli's designs are available in a new retail space in Atlanta's Inman Park neighborhood and online.

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In the bag

Self-taught designer and Goizueta Business School graduate Melanie Mueller 08MBA says handbag design is in her genes. "My maternal grandmother hand-knitted handbags and sold them in her small town of Calarcá, Colombia, as a side project from her full-time teaching job. I was unaware of this fact until I had already launched Mel Boteri," says Mueller, who crafted the name of her brand from a shortened form of her German first name and a version of her mother's maiden name. After working in marketing and business development for a designer in New York City, Mueller was inspired to create a shopping experience driven by personal attention and relationships. After laying the groundwork during her last semester at Emory, she officially launched the brand with her first collection of handbags in fall 2009.

View Meuller's designs

Clothes make the man

With the mission of creating "the best-looking,best-fitting, and most reasonably priced shirts to reflect the greatness in each man," Goizueta Business School students Ryan Walsh 17B and Duncan Cock-Foster 17B established Edward Foster clothing company during their freshman year at Emory. Their goal, to prove they could create affordable, quality shirts geared towards college men. The duo spent a year researching fabrics, embroidery methods, and fits in creating a line of 100 percent cotton oxford, plaid, and chambray shirts in a variety of colors.

More than skin deep

Born out of a very personal need to care about what she put on her skin, Sally McClatchey Larsen 75B has grown a tiny, kitchen-based company, Sally B's Skin Yummies, into a worldwide brand known for handcrafted, small-batch, organic skincare products for the face and body. In 2005, she founded Sally B's Skin Yummies, and her product line now includes more than twenty nontoxic skin care and makeup products made from "certified organic and natural ingredients that are people- and planet-friendly." From its base on Miami Circle in Atlanta, the team produces an array of body butters, cleansers, toners, serums, and cosmetics that are available online.

View Sally B's Skin Yummies Website

Baby, look at you now

Friends since their college days, Carolyn Guard 08MBA and Matthew Guard 07MBA and Molly and Ted Fienning dreamed of starting their own business as they pursued corporate and military careers. The idea for Babiators was born on a military base in Beaufort, South Carolina, when Molly Fienning saw her fellow military wives' kids squinting in the sun while their pilot moms and dads were protected in stylish aviator sunglasses. She shared the idea with her aviator husband and with Matthew and Carolyn Guard, who loved the idea of creating high-quality, affordable, safe, durable, and stylish products that let kids be kids and be protected. The company launched in 2011 and Forbes Magazine named Babiators one of America's 100 Most Promising Companies of 2014. Products for kids birth to teens are available online.

View Babiators website
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