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Crain’s Business list of "40 under 40, New York's Rising Stars.”


When Jonah Staw goes to work in the morning, he gets to sit at a desk made of a bunk bed and drink chocolate root beer from his office’s new soda fountain.

“I realized I’d be most successful if I tap-danced on the table instead of being a conservative businessman,” says the co-founder of the LittleMissMatched brand of socks and accessories.

He’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At age 8, Mr. Staw started his own postcard company, drawing birdlike images on special paper to sell at local bookstores in Berkeley, Calif.

“As an 8-year-old, you’re rolling in dough if you can buy an extra pack of Now and Later candy,” he says.

After an early career as an architect he designed and built his own dream house and a stint at design firm Frog, Mr. Staw launched Miss Matched in 2004.

The quirky sock company has since expanded to pajamas and bedroom furniture and has an upcoming apparel line for tweens. Last year, revenue jumped 28% from 2007, to $32 million, and Mr. Staw says e-commerce sales grew 80%. The brand is carried at Macy’s, FAO Schwarz, Bed Bath & Beyond and at 3,000 specialty shops.

But that’s not the endgame. Despite the recession’s chilling effect on retail, Mr. Staw plans to open a store in Grand Central Terminal this spring and is searching for another location. The expansion is part of a business plan underwritten by private equity firm Catterton Partners.

“People get a good idea but are afraid to go forward on it,” says Doreen Lorenzo, chief executive of Frog and a former colleague of Mr. Staw’s. “Jonah left Frog to start this business, and that takes a lot of guts.”

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