Photographers had just finished snapping a few final shots when Elizabeth Lindsey’s phone rang. She quickly ducked over to one side of the room.

“I couldn’t wait to tell somebody the news,” she said to the person on the other end. “You’re not going to believe it.”

Lindsey, the executive director of Byte Back, said a few minutes later that she still couldn’t believe it herself. She had just won the top prize at the kickoff event for Creator Awards. That meant $360,000 for her innovative organization, which provides computer training and career preparation for underserved residents of the Washington, D.C. area.

“This award will help us transform the work we do,” Lindsey said, smiling broadly. “We’ll be able to expand our training so that we can reach more adults and help them move into careers where they earn a living wage.”

Lindsey was one of 25 winners at the Creator Awards, held Tuesday night at D.C.’s Mellon Auditorium. WeWork gave out the prizes, which totaled more than $1.5 million.

The top three prizes, totaling $720,000, all went to organizations run by women. More than half of all the winning companies were founded or cofounded by women.

Kellee James of Mercaris, Elizabeth Lindsey of Byte Back, and Cristi Hegranes of Global Press Institute took home the top prizes at the Creator Awards.
Kellee James of Mercaris, Elizabeth Lindsey of Byte Back, and Cristi Hegranes of Global Press Institute took home the top prizes at the Creator Awards.

Adam Neumann, cofounder of WeWork, told the hundreds of people who gathered for the event that he intended the awards to help fund the types of entrepreneurs that aren’t usually recognized.

“Chase your passion, chase your truth, and everything else will work out,” he said to the crowd.

Over the course of a year, WeWork will be giving out more than $20 million at a series of events in cities spanning the globe. Subsequent Creator Awards events will take place in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. The next one is scheduled for Detroit on May 25.

Winners from each event will come together for the global finals, which will be held in New York City on November 30.

There were three categories of Creator Awards, including the Incubate Award for great ideas or specific projects that need funding, and the Launch Award for young businesses and organizations that need a little help getting off the ground. The third, the Scale Award, is for more established operations aiming to get to the next level.

In addition to Lindsey, other Scale Award winners were Kellee James of Mercaris, which works with organic and non-GMO agriculture, and Cristi Hegranes of Global Press Institute, which trains and employs female journalists from around the world.

Hegranes said she’s proud of the dozens of women who’ve become journalists through her organization’s programs.

“I employ 100 women around the world, and that’s what keeps me going day and night,” she said.

The winners of the Launch Awards included Quaker City Coffee, Together We Bake, Global Vision 2020, and Coral Vita.

Winning the top prize in the Launch Awards was MemoryWell, which tells the life stories of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“I started off by writing the story of my father, who had Alzheimer’s,” said Jay Newton-Small, the journalist who cofounded the organization. “And when we realized that knowing his story helped his caregivers, we knew this was something that would help others as well.”

There were 17 winners in the Incubate category, including Milinda Balthrop of Filmmakers for Tomorrow Foundation, Cindy Frei of Caleb’s Cooking Company, Debra Brown of Child Care Counts, Ben Melman of Booksmart Touring, Nick Delmonico of Strados, Chibueze Ihenacho of ARMR Systems, Angelina Klouthis of the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, Jes Christian of Hypsole, Charlene Brown of Reciprocare, CJ Cross of GoCraft Brewing, Ian Rinehart of Conserve With Us, Robert Fine of Cool Blue Media, Akwasi Asante of Phoenix Aid, Audrey Henson of College to Congress, Jelena S. Mishina of Shared Workshop, Karima Ladhani of Barakat Bundle, and Katie Thompson of Causeumentary.

Photos by Lauren Kallen

Celebrity stylist Karla Welch knows the importance of having a style uniform—and what happens when you try to fight it.  

Welch, dubbed the No. 1 power stylist by The Hollywood Reporter—with clients including Amy Poehler, Ruth Negga, Karlie Kloss, and Zooey Deschanel—recently booked a crack-of-dawn flight from Los Angeles to New York for an event at WeWork 205 Hudson. Bleary-eyed at 3:30 a.m. and prepping for her flight, Welch packed exactly one outfit: a dress. At the last minute, she threw in a favorite pair of jeans. Just in case.

When she landed in New York, she slipped on the dress to wear to the panel discussion about WISHI, the on-demand personal-styling platform she co-founded with stylist Cleo O’Hana. But the dress was all wrong, she says. Backup jeans it was.

Celebrity stylist Karla Welch’s own style uniform consists of three items: jeans, a blazer, and a white T-shirt.

That’s the power of a personal style uniform. “It’s a security blanket,” says Welch, who wears a white shirt, jeans, boots, and blazer during most of her nonstop days spent styling clients, consulting on advertising campaigns, and designing custom pieces for Justin Bieber’s world tours.

There’s a reason uniform dressing is catching on: When you streamline one aspect of your life, it frees up your brain to focus elsewhere. When you’re busy or building a company from the ground up, says Welch, “your mind is needed for other things.”  

At WeWork, Karla Welch shared the stage with fashion names like WISHI cofounder Clea O’Hana (left) and B Sides Jeans cofounder Stacy Daily (right).

Famously, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Barack Obama have all admitted to wearing nearly the same outfits every day; now entrepreneurs and ambitious workers are following suit (while ditching the suit). How to begin? First, take a deep breath. “The thing is, it’s just clothes,” Welch says. “You don’t need to stress out.”

Keep it supersimple. Ask yourself, What are you looking for? advises Welch, who says it’s the first question she poses to clients. For example: “clean lines, not too fussy, something to move around the city in.” Creating a style target helps narrow your options. Welch’s own uniform consists of three items: jeans, blazer, white T-shirt. Yours could be a slight variation: stylish trousers, say, or sweaters during the winter.

Consider your days. Are you in and out of meetings? Does your commute feel like it’s 100 degrees, even in the winter—except when it’s not? Your uniform should be adaptable and feel comfortable in a variety of situations. “A uniform is a time-saver so you can do better things,” Welch says. It should never be a source of worry.

Start with what you have. Uniform dressing seems like a minimalist endeavor, yet it’s easy to think you need to buy a new wardrobe. Don’t, says Welch, who advocates wearing pieces for years. Start by shopping your own closet. It’s less expensive and more sustainable—plus, creating a style identity from familiar pieces you already own makes it more likely you’ll stick with it.

Ask one crucial question. Pick items that make you feel powerful and build from there. Ask yourself, “Do I feel good in this item?” If the answer is yes, add it to your rotation. If the answer’s no, consider donating it.

Look to the greats. Channel inspiration from artists, cinema, and celebrities. Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garçons dresses almost exclusively in black, save for the occasional white shirt. And the artist Georgia O’Keeffe was notoriously rigid with her self-created wardrobe—so much so that her iconic androgynous silk, cotton, and wool outfits have been showcased in museum exhibits.

Solicit a second opinion. If you’re at a loss, hire an expert. It might be a better use of your time than opening 47 shopping tabs in your browser and searching for the right piece. On WISHI, each user is matched with a professional stylist. You send photographs of your wardrobe, and the stylist sends back suggestions from your own closet and from online stores.

Beat back boredom. Growing up, Welch wore a school uniform, but instead of resenting the predictability and sameness, she says, “it pushed me to be creative.” The same goes for an adult uniform. “The goal is to feel confident, not bored,” she says. “It takes a remarkable amount of confidence to wear something over and over again.” And if repetition can breed success, then a uniform could be your strongest style move yet.

Photos by Lori Gutman

Looking for one-stop shopping for everyone on your list? We’ve gathered together a few dozen of our favorite gifts from WeWork members that will satisfy your fitness-obsessed mother, coffee-loving spouse, bookish nephew, world-traveling friend, or workaholic boss without putting a dent in your wallet.

For the dreamer

Blox party: The GoldieBlox Craft-Struction Box is as much for big kids as little ones. The 275-piece kit, created by the member company at WeWork 1111 Broadway in Oakland, California, was designed to disrupt gender norms by introducing girls to STEM concepts like prototyping and problem-solving. Don’t bother looking for instructions—the only rule is to follow your imagination. $35

Totes amazing: Each of the memorable quotes on Time Travel Mart’s Student Quote Totes was written by a young author in 826LA, a nonprofit writing and tutoring organization in Los Angeles based at Pasadena’s WeWork 177 E Colorado Blvd. Gift the bright red bag to the budding writer for their manuscripts and books. $12

Best bud: Think too hard about the magic behind WinkyLux Flower Balm, made by a member based at London’s WeWork North West House, and you might go insane wondering how exactly they get that tiny chrysanthemum in the center—or how a clear balm can transform into the most flattering shade of pink ever once it hits your lips. Sometimes a little mystery is a good thing. $14

Written in the stars: Each set of Whiskey River Soap astrology pencils is filled with fun reminders of an astrological sign’s personality traits, from Pisces’ spot-on assessment as a “stray animal collector” to Capricorn’s simple and true description, “bossy AF.” $11

Color story: Help a friend fight blank-wall boredom with this limited-edition Mike Natter “Crayons” print from Art Sugar, an art collective based at New York’s WeWork 205 Hudson that gives a platform to underrepresented artists with large social-media followings. Feel-good bonus: At checkout, choose which charity will receive 5 percent of your buy’s proceeds. Starting at $20 without frame

For the adventurer  

Travel buddies: Ditch your long-held assumptions: Compression socks aren’t just for ultramarathoners and grannies. The tight fit can actually improve your blood and lymph flow if you sit a lot at work or are taking a superlong flight. These stylish versions from Comrad are the kind of socks that anyone would be happy to unwrap. $48 for three pairs

Quick-change agent: This nifty five-in-one universal travel adapter, which includes a USB port, is a lifesaver no matter where in the world you find yourself. The Flight 001 team, which works out of WeWork 109 S 5th St in Brooklyn, color-coded each adapter so that getting connected in your hotel room or WiFi café is easier than finding your connecting flight. $35

Light show: The lightweight Solar Puff is a waterproof, pop-up, solar-powered lantern that illuminates everything from camping trips to outdoor soirees. The product is brilliant in more ways than one: The brand behind the magic, Solight—a member at WeWork 123 E 23rd St in New York—is on a mission to provide sustainable light and power to areas of the world that need it most. $30

Sweet dreams: Any jet-setter worth their roller bag knows that the real key to enjoying a vacation is getting some solid shut-eye. The Good Night Sleep Tight Kit from new WeWork member Izola has all the tools to help you drift off: an eye mask, earplugs, bath oil with calming lavender, and a face oil to keep skin dewy, even on long-haul red-eye flights. $35

New flame: The soy-wax candles—based on U.S. states—from Homesick are fragrant reminders of a specific favorite vacation spot, childhood stomping grounds, or college hometown. (The Colorado candle, for instance, smells like spruce needles and spice.) Each uniquely-scented blend is hand-poured in the U.S. $30

For the foodie

Small fry: The 8-inch Chatham ceramic frypan from GreenPan, based at 1460 Broadway in New York, makes even simple morning eggs that much easier thanks to its nontoxic, nonstick finish. It’s dishwasher-safe and can be safely used with metal utensils. Insert prayer-hands emoji here. $40

Buzz feed: Take someone’s morning brew to the next level with Al Mokha Reserve’s Al Wudiyan coffee, which comes ground or in full beans. The medium roast has citrus and cherry notes, but it’s not just a tasty cup of joe; the company, which works out of WeWork Universal North in Washington, D.C., has a sweet mission: to promote economic stability and security in Yemen by creating jobs there. $32

Sugar rush: The Sabiya Gift Box from Elements Truffles is a chocoholic’s nirvana: It includes three chocolate bars, eight assorted truffles, and a bag of turmeric-infused drinking chocolate. Plus, all are Ayurvedainspired—which means they’re technically good for you (right?). $35

Authentic eats: The Classic box from Bokksu, a member at WeWork 205 Hudson, is chock-full of straight-from-Japan treats, such as hand-ground matcha and Hokkaido milk cookies. It’s basically like gifting someone a direct flight to Tokyo, minus the TSA lines and jet lag. $39

Joe on the go: Three busy dads, all members at WeWork 81 Prospect St in Brooklyn, came up with the idea for Stojo, a collapsible silicone coffee cup that’s commuter friendly—and keeps disposable cups from hitting landfills. Drink up. $25

For the fitness enthusiast

Save our strands: Pop the Hair-O-Scopes Brightest Stars set from Brigeo, a member at WeWork 27 E 28 St in New York, in a friend’s gym bag to save them from generic-gym-shampoo disappointment. The kit contains shampoo, conditioning spray, blow-dry cream, and a conditioning mask to help hydrate dry winter hair. $39

Write on: All it takes is five minutes a day for someone to write their way to a more positive outlook, whether that drives them to accomplish new goals in the weight room or finally commit to a half-marathon. The Five Minute Journal from Intelligent Change uses psychology research to help the author focus on gratitude. $23

Clear winner: The sleek A6 bottle from Memobottle, a certified B-Corp company, is designed to be the same size and shape as an A6 memo pad—meaning it slips easily into a pocket or gym bag—making it a stylish reminder to hydrate before and after a workout.  $28

Fitness fixer-upper: You know your cycling-class buddy who always forgets their socks? The Pinch Provisions gym kit is for them. The pocket-size kit also contains earbuds, deodorant towelettes, electrolyte tablets, and more—so they’ll never be caught unprepared again. $24

Toe tappers: After a sock-soaking workout, it’s a joy to change into these Conscious Step Socks That Fight Poverty. The sustainably run company, which works out of WeWork 109 S 5th St in New York, donates to various charities around the globe. Each style benefits a different cause; this particular pair aids Global Citizens, a social-action platform to end poverty. $15

For the Workaholic

Save face: Help your favorite type A unwind with a little self-care. Oars and Alps, a brand started by two members at Chicago’s WeWork 220 N Green St, offers a starter kit of their favorite all-natural picks: face and eye cream, a rollerball eye stick, and mint lip balm. $48

Tag, you’re it: Show your favorite supervisor who’s boss with a keychain and tag that says it all. The hand-stamped brass tag from Art Ayaloka is a constant reminder of their confidence and success. $20

It’s lit: Lighting the Balsam Fir candle from Ranger Station, a member at WeWork 901 Woodland St in Nashville, is like setting yourself down in the middle of a balsam-lined forest and breathing deep. And the calm keeps coming: The candle’s burn time is 40 hours. $44

Fresh start: Help a coworker beat burnout with a Bergamot Bath Bar from Commodity, a member at WeWork 401 Park Ave S in New York. The scent was devised by a scientist with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and the blend of citrus and bright green notes is an invigorating way to begin every day. $24,

A good sign: The phrase “What Good Shall I Do This Day?” was a mantra of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin—a man who knew a thing or two about innovation. This enamel steel sign from Best Made is a brain-boosting addition to any workstation. $32

“Yes, this is a fish-leather skirt!” actress and activist Alysia Reiner proclaimed, gesturing at her ’90s-inspired black miniskirt as she stood in front of 150 people gathered at New York’s WeWork 1460 Broadway for the recent launch party of her Livari collaboration collection. “It’s from Brazil, from fish that’s been eaten,” she told the crowd. “[The skin] would have been thrown away—but no, [we said] let’s make cool products out of it.”

This sustainable ethos permeates every design from Livari, the ethical, zero-waste fashion label Reiner cofounded with stylist Claudine DeSola and designer and Women’s March organizer Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs. Their new collection showcases style and sustainability with every piece: ballet flats created in collaboration with Oka-B ($60) are made with Microplast, a recycled tmaterial; limited-edition fabric sleeves for sustainable glass straws designed in partnership with Simply Straws (from $20); a leather clutch made with Elvis & Kresse (£160) is crafted of leather scraps discarded by Burberry, reclaimed blankets made from material used in the printing industry; and hot orange parachute panels from discarded (actual) parachutes.

“Fashion is wearable art,” says Reiner, who works out of WeWork 8 W 126th St in New York. The actress, best known for her roles in Orange Is the New Black, The Deuce, and Better Things, developed an appreciation for fashion early in life. “My grandmother was a huge lover of clothing and would buy clothing from all over,” such as a piece of embroidery from Istanbul, Reiner recalls. “She really taught me about workmanship.” Her grandmother used to take her to the Piggy Bank Shop, a second-hand store in Westchester County, New York. “I learned about reusing and not having to buy new to find incredible things,” says Reiner.

Alysia Reiner (center) joins Livari cofounders Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs (left) and Claudine DeSola (right) at an event at WeWork celebrating the launch of her collection.

Today, as a stage/TV/film actress, she gets to work with top costume designers, like OITNB and Girls costumer Jenn Rogen. “[She] taught me how a character can be informed by a costume,” says Reiner. “Once she put me in stripes, saying, ‘You are like a ref in this scene.’”

Reiner’s passion for style and artistry brought her together with longtime friend DeSola—a stylist on OITNB, House of Cards, Jane the Virgin, Younger, and other shows—and St. Bernard-Jacobs shortly after the 2016 election. What began with a focus group of women talking about their favorite pieces of clothing evolved into their first Livari collection, a mixture of everyday and statement pieces with a practical twist (think pockets and adjustable waists).

When press coverage and reviews exceeded their expectations, the three cofounders—each balancing their respective first careers with their new venture—were faced with a serious question: “How do we sustain this idea?” After all, Reiner’s acting career shows no signs of slowing down; her next feature film, the comedy Egg, is due out in theaters and video on demand on Jan. 18.

The women soon found their answer: “We decided to do collaborations,” Reiner explains. With the added goal of incorporating a nonprofit component into every piece, the trio set out to find partners—and causes. The Oka-B-collaboration ballet flats give back to Still She Rises, which benefits incarcerated mothers (Reiner is on the board); the Livari-designed glass-straw sleeves benefit oceans organization Lonely Whale; and the leather clutch designed with Elvis & Kresse benefits Barefoot College, which specializes in training female solar engineers.

It all adds up to a brand that embodies so much of what Reiner believes in personally. “I think Alysia is very thoughtful about her platform, and she uses it to highlight clean living and speak about us having an impact in the world around us,” says St. Bernard-Jacobs.

Their recent pivot into collaborations has allowed the three women flexibility in more ways than one. They can tap categories such as lifestyle, jewelry, and activewear—and, through strategic partnerships with nonprofits, expand their mission. “Our goal is to be wherever people need us,” says Reiner, “to support charities and to be at the frontline of design—fearless and at the cutting edge.”

But where can we get a fish-leather skirt like hers? “Skirts are custom at this point,” Reiner says. “Being zero-waste, we don’t manufacture anything without a request.”

Photos by Scott Rosenthal

It takes most nonprofits dedicated to finding a cure for debilitating diseases—like cystic fibrosis or, in the case of the federal government, HIV/AIDS—decades to discover a breakthrough treatment or get a drug approved, often after raising billions of dollars.

The EB Research Partnership is on its way after only nine years.

Epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, is a potentially deadly genetic skin condition. Those afflicted are missing an essential protein that binds the skin’s layers—without it, the skin blisters and tears, leading to severe pain, permanent scarring, and disfigurement. Because there is no cure, doctors typically tell parents of children born with EB (1 in 200 American babies each year) to try to make life as normal as possible. That can mean spending hours every day wrapping sores with bandages to prevent infection.

EB Research Partnership’s progress—$25 million raised and 50 research projects funded, half of which are active—is the result of its innovative venture-philanthropy model that cofounder Alexander Silver says was “borne out of a mistake I swore we’d never make again.”

Soon after their son, Jackson, was born with a severe form of EB in 2007, Alexander and his wife, Jamie, created the Jackson Gabriel Silver Foundation to fund research to help find a cure for the disease. It didn’t take long for the family to realize they had made a mistake adopting a traditional nonprofit model—relying on grants to fund research—after the foundation’s first project ended up in limbo due to organizational disarray.

(Above) A child with Epidermolysis bullosa, a potentially deadly genetic skin condition. (Top) Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder was an early supporter of the EB Research Partnership.

“We lost five years,” Silver, 41, says. “And in the context of somebody who lives with severe EB, whose life expectancy may be 25, 30 years, it’s unconscionable.”

In 2014, the Jackson Gabriel Silver Foundation teamed up with Heal EB, a nonprofit founded by the parents of another young EB-afflicted boy who were also trying to find a cure. With the help of supporters like Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder and his wife, Jill (who was the childhood neighbor of the boy’s father), the EB Research Partnership was founded.

From the start, the organization, based at New York’s WeWork 575 Fifth, broke the traditional nonprofit mold by using “venture philanthropy,” which focuses on raising capital to drive innovation. Venture philanthropy uses finance and business practices to generate a return on investments from traditional nonprofit methods like donations.

Here’s how it works: When the nonprofit awards a grant to a project, it retains intellectual-property rights. When a public company uses that IP to develop a treatment, EBRP receives stock in the company. If the stock grows beyond the original investment, the revenue funds more research to accelerate cures for EB.

“The early investors at Google didn’t just simply hand off their economics to the next party,” says Silver, a partner at New York investment firm P2 Capital Partners. “For some reason, it’s the belief that the nonprofit sector should, and we just don’t fundamentally accept that.”

Additionally, all EBRP agreements include a license that enables the organization to move the IP to another commercial party if the current one fails to move forward.

“We’re very cognizant that the therapy goes first, with or without the partner company,” says Silver.

EBRP could have selected another investment model, like impact investing, but “we don’t want to ever be in a position where we have to turn something down that could cure the disease because of an investor return,” says executive director Michael P. Hund.

The organization’s use of venture philanthropy to save children’s lives is gaining attention: In November 2018, EBRP was awarded a partnership with the Harvard Business School Club of New York, a fellow WeWork member based at WeWork 1460 Broadway. Its team of volunteers conducts a deep dive into the organization’s strategic plan.

Lisa Goldman Forgang, co-chair of social-enterprise programs and community partners at HBSCNY, says the organization was impressed with EBRP’s innovative business model and its ability to leverage their grants as investments. “We’re just hoping to be able to help them get out their success and stories even more and identify new potential donors that would really be supportive to this mission and this model,” she says.

The more success the nonprofit sees—it enjoyed a $6 million return on a $500,000 investment in a gene therapy made three years ago—the more hopeful those affected by EB are of finding a cure. And as EBRP’s venture-philanthropy model proves viable, it can be applied to other incurable rare diseases.

“Why would we write these big checks to these big institutions and just hope for the best?” says Hund. “That just didn’t make sense to Alex, and it doesn’t make sense to me. There’s a better way.”