10 Aspirational Entrepreneurs to Keep an Eye on in 2024

UPDATED: June 5, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 5, 2024
Laura Vogel aspiring entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial landscape is ever-evolving, and it takes a specific type of leader to ride the waves of disruption and innovation. These 10 notable entrepreneurs—ranging in expertise from nonprofit heroes to culinary connoisseurs—share resolve, creativity and ambition that inspires a deeper look into their journeys toward success. Meet the aspiring entrepreneurs who are charting their own paths.

1. Laura Vogel, Vogelle

Photo by Amanda Tromp/Courtesy of Laura Vogel

The model-turned-entrepreneur self-funded and launched an international handbag brand in 2020 as a 21-year-old exchange student in Milan. While in Europe, the ever-observant Vogel noticed that small chic bags—casually, yet carefully, draped over the shoulders of Italian women—“were just starting to have their moment and become a style.” Using her background in marketing and finance, Vogel got to work creating Vogelle’s signature bags. The result was a series of sleek silhouettes made of timeless genuine Italian leather and accented with gold hardware that have massively appealed to buyers of all ages. Throughout the past four years, the native Coloradoan has harnessed the power of social media to grow her brand, both organically and with influencers.

2. Zhenghua (Z) Yang, Serenity Forge

Photo by Kevin Zhang/Courtesy of Zhenghua Yang

One night at 18, Yang woke up choking on his own blood—the result of a fatally low platelet count. Doctors gave him hours to days to live. Yang surpassed that predetermined fate but ended up hospitalized for two years with a severe blood disorder, terrified that “even the smallest muscle movements” could kill him. To fight isolation, Yang started playing online games, logging more than 10,000 hours in games like League of Legends and making friends from around the world along the way, including a medical researcher who connected him with world-renowned hematologists. Yang wanted to embrace his revived sense of purpose and create video games that teach, inspire and “literally and metaphorically save lives.” Since its 2014 launch, video game development company Serenity Forge has had a string of successful releases, including Where the Water Tastes Like Wine and Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!—successes that landed Yang on Forbes 2020 30 Under 30 list. The aspiring entrepreneur sees video games changing our world over the next few years in a variety of areas, ranging from education to business operations to social impact. “Video games saved my life, and they just might save yours too,” Yang says.

3. Tiffy Chen, Tiffy Cooks and Kai Dong

Photo courtesy of Tiffy Cooks

Growing up in Taiwan, Chen had access to some of the most delicious, vibrant street food in the world. It’s something she missed greatly as a college student in a small Canadian town with no Asian food. Chen was homesick, missing the flavors and aromas that connected her to family. So, Chen took matters into her own hands—and her basic student housing kitchen. She started making small, easy dishes like fried rice before leveling up to complicated delicacies like pho. An activity that started as a stress reliever has grown into a massive social media following, a cookbook and segments on shows like Good Morning America. Last November, Chen launched Asian foods company Kai Dong (Mandarin for “Let’s eat!”), bringing her beloved recipes straight to kitchens across the country with premium ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes.

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4. AJR

Photo by Kyle Berger/Courtesy of AJR

The indie pop trio—brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met—started off busking in Washington Square Park. Now, they’re playing multiple nights at the famed Madison Square Garden. But the band hopes to make an impact beyond their music by practicing environmental sustainability while touring. They think about their environmental footprint before they even hit the road, considering everything from offsetting their carbon emissions to avoiding single-use plastics. AJR also considers who they partner with, like Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that trains future climate leaders with tailored fellowships that teach researchers and advocates to work together for ultimate impact. (Bassist Adam, who has a Ph.D. in human rights law and sustainable development, is the founder and executive director of the organization.) Recently, Planet Reimagined partnered with UK-based nonprofit Climate Outreach on a first-of-its-kind study designed to gauge fans’ perceptions of artists who use their platform for important issues.

5. Anna Axster and Wendelin von Schroder, Lodestar Whiskey

Photo by Sally Peterson/Courtesy of Lodestar Whiskey

After spending more than a decade in the music and film industries, the cousins had acquired a taste for premium whiskey while hanging out backstage and in countless bars and venues. When the pandemic halted the entertainment industry, Axster and von Schroder decided to turn grains into whiskey. The aspiring entrepreneurs knew what flavor notes worked well from their time as amateur whiskey connoisseurs—but they also knew that whiskey is mostly served as a “man’s drink.” “So, we set out to craft our own and invite everyone to the party,” the founders say. With the launch of Lodestar Whiskey last year, the duo created a deliciously smooth spirit by blending straight high rye bourbon and American single malt whiskey—a whiskey so enviable that it’s the first backed by Diageo’s Distill Ventures award-winning pre-accelerator program that support beverage industry entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. “Building community is one of our guiding principles,” Axster says. “It was important to us that our whiskey is approachable…. We wanted it to be inclusive and inviting to those who are new to the whiskey community while also satisfying the palates of those who enjoy whiskey regularly.”

6. Dorion Renaud, Buttah

Photo courtesy of Buttah

You’ve likely seen Renaud before, perhaps as a model in the pages of Vogue or as a host/correspondent on Extra. But, arguably, Renaud’s most important role has been founder of Buttah, a highly effective line of skin care products for melanin-rich skin. Buttah was inspired by Renaud’s own unique skin care journey, in which he searched for the right products for his skin while battling dark spots, pigmentation and irritation from consistent TV-ready makeup application. Renaud started working shea butter into his routine at the suggestion of a photographer. Now, it’s his line’s main ingredient, sourced from Ghana, West Africa. Along the way, Renaud has also inspired other men to take care of their skin. Bottom line: Common skin concerns like hyperpigmentation don’t have to be normal. “How you look is important; how you feel about yourself is important,” he says. Since Buttah launched in 2018, it’s cultivated a powerful following that has included celebrities such as Beyoncé, Keri Hilson and even 2 Chainz.

7. Jordan Webster, Cactus Jack Foundation

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Cactus Jack Foundation

At 24, the former legislative fellow leads nonprofit Cactus Jack Foundation as managing director. The organization—founded by Webster’s brother, hip-hop artist Travis Scott—aims to extend youth access to educational opportunities, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances. Webster, a 2022 Howard University graduate, leads the foundation’s extensive education efforts and spearheaded the Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund, named for the siblings’ late grandfather Waymon T. Webster, who was dean of Prairie View A&M University’s graduate school. In 2022, the Waymon Webster Scholarship awarded $1,000,000 in scholarships to 100 graduating seniors from 38 historically Black colleges and universities in an effort to alleviate financial challenges in the students’ final semester. “It means the world to me to be able to work with my brother as he creates hope and makes a real difference for our peers and their families,” Webster said in a statement.

8. Paul Charette, Charette Cosmetics

Paul Charette, one of 10 aspiring entrepreneurs to watch in 2024
Photo by Cameron Perry/Courtesy of Paul Charette

As the visionary behind Charette Cosmetics, Charette has a keen eye for detail, a dedication to inclusion in beauty and a passion for quality—characteristics that have elevated his brand in the luxury cosmetics space. The aspiring entrepreneur’s extensive background as a medical aesthetician and cosmetic practitioner helps fine-tune the products and procedures offered at Charette Cosmetics medical spas in Atlanta, Dallas and Miami. Through Charette’s foresight and adaptability, the brand has set new standards in the ever-evolving beauty industry with a focus on inclusivity by creating products that are beneficial for all skin types. “I want people to be able to feel more beautiful, comfortable and confident in their own skin,” he says, “and making treatments available to everyone is the first step.” Others are noticing too. Some of Charette’s key products have been featured on Bravo and in Women’s Health and Newsweek.

9. Arielle Zappia, Project WHY

Arielle Zappia, one of 10 aspiring entrepreneurs to watch in 2024
Courtesy of Arielle Zappia

The Southern California teen began noticing a rise in homelessness a few years ago. It was something she couldn’t shake. Zappia was bothered by the lack of information about homelessness and the stigmas attached to drug addiction and mental illnesses, two issues that are often prevalent within the unhoused community. So, in 2022, at 14 years old, she fueled her interests in entrepreneurship and innovation into founding Project WHY (which stands for “We Hear You”). “I feel as though society has lacked empathy [toward] homelessness for a very long time,” she says. “It is time for a genuine change.” As CEO of the nonprofit, she partners with various organizations to interview her “unhoused neighbors” and share their stories, which are published on Project WHY’s website. “I realized that, in order for us to genuinely understand individuals experiencing homelessness and the overall experience of homelessness, we needed to learn it from those experiencing it,” she says.

10. Hailey Clauson, Margaux

Hailey Clauson, one of 10 aspiring entrepreneurs to watch in 2024
Photo by Sabrina Miller/Courtesy of Hailey Clauson

For more than half her life, Clauson has modeled for some of the biggest fashion brands, including Versace, Gucci and Jean Paul Gaultier, and appeared in several Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues. Now, the aspiring entrepreneur is leveraging her range of experience and applying it to her role as co-owner and creative director of Margaux, a Los Angeles-based boutique modeling agency. In a way, this is a full-circle moment for Clauson, who started modeling at age 13. She’s tapping into her expansive network to give Margaux’s models the support and safety she longed for from agencies she worked with throughout her storied career. As creative director, she supports talent from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from age and body type to culture and gender.

This article originally appeared in the July/Aug 2024 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by Amanda Tromp.