Jeff Kearl

A headshot of Jeff Kearl, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Stance

An entrepreneur, angel investor and contrarian, Jeff Kearl is the co-founder, CEO and chairman of Stance, a California-based lifestyle apparel brand best known for its artsy, eye-catching, sometimes wacky socks. “We break a lot of rules at Stance,” says Kearl, who has invested in 70 start-ups and serves on the board of Skullcandy, Needle and Julep. “Things that the industry said we shouldn't do—be a dual-gender brand, offer performance and lifestyle brands side by side and have too much kids product--we’ve done it all.” Kearl is inspired by the smart, positive people who fill his workplace. The company doesn’t have office hours or vacation, and the office has a basketball court, chef and personal trainers. Stance, founded in 2009, has seven stores and makes the official sock for NBA and MLB players. Kearl thinks of socks as Stance’s “hero product,” like Under Armour’s first layer compression or lululemon’s yoga plants. He followed socks with women’s underwear, and in 2018, the company will launch t-shirts. “Have the courage to be differentiated in some way,” he advises those entering the industry. “That’s how you have a long life in retail.”