Distinction: The former Wall Street broker turned jewelry designer works with indigenous artists on three continents and uses only found materials, recycled metals, and responsibly mined gems; a portion of the profits goes to philanthropic organizations. Her company's collaboration with the nonprofit group Charity: Water will provide clean drinking water for more than 3,000 people for 20 years.
What drives you to succeed? In October 2005, my 16-year-old sister, Vanessa, died in a car accident. She had started to file the papers to create a 501(c)(3) that would provide scholarships for underprivileged students in Haiti. I founded the Vanessa Péan Foundation to do exactly that.
Describe yourself in one word. Determined.
Do you have a mantra? "Learn from it." No matter how difficult a situation is, there is something you can take away.
If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? A bright blue fossilized woolly mammoth tusk I got in a small town called Shishmaref near the Arctic Circle.
What has been your most surreal, "pinch-me-I'm-dreaming" moment so far? Winning runner-up for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award.
Why is it so important that your business give back? One out of six people in the world doesn't have access to clean drinking water. If every company cared about its footprint, the efforts would really add up.
Designer: Apiece Apart
Next: Social psychologist Jennifer Richeson, PhD