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15 to Watch in 2015: Emma McIlroy

Monday, December 29, 2014


When you talk about iconic homegrown success stories in Portland, clothing and lifestyle brand Wildfang is always already a part of the conversation. In unleashing Wildfang International Inc., Emma McIlroy opened up a new way for women across the country to express themselves through style, and it’s not slowing down in 2015.

The CEO and CFO of Wilfang left a power-gig in brand marketing at sportswear giant Nike to launch Wildfang with fellow Nike brand baron Julia Parsley in 2012.  In just two short years, the company has become an international go-to for anyone looking to get after the “Tomboy” aesthetic. With over 70 brands under its roof, the company expanded its staff from eight to 18 in 2014, and grew its revenue by more than 200 percent. McIlroy and crew are ramping up for another big year in 2015.

Trendsetters including Janelle Monae, Ellen Page, Magan Rapinoe, and Evan Rachel Wood are frequently spotted rocking the brand. Wilfang does things differently -- and it’s worked. Each month, McIlroy mentors between eight and ten new and existing entrepreneurs, and sits on the board of the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. Moving into 2015, watch the company’s job board -- because this thing has momentum.  See her speak monthly at various events throughout Portland.


Related Slideshow: 15 to Watch in 2015

Here's a list of 15 people in Portland to keep your eye on for 2015:

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Tina Kotek

As House Speaker in the Oregon House of Representatives, Tina Kotek (D-Portland) ultimately chooses which legislation goes on the floor.

As the Democrats don't need bipartisan support in the House of Representatives to pass legislation, Kotek is the most powerful politician in the House. 

Read more 

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Catherine Nikolovski

Start-up founder, non-profit organizer and a member of the Portland tech, design, and political communities, Catherine Nikolovski should show up on your radar during 2015. 

A 25-year-old single mother, former Democratic Party fundraiser and former community organizer, Nikolovski now works as a technology consultant. She is is a part of the Portland Code School, which offers classes to help prepare individuals for jobs in the tech industry. Nikolovski heads market development, but also created the Coders with Kids program. 

Read More

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Knute Buehler

In the 2014 elections, Central Oregon voters elected Knute Buelher, a Bend doctor, to represent them in the Oregon Legislature.

After his party didn't perform well in the state's November elections, Republicans are hoping that Buelher can continue his rise.

Read More

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Scott Showalter

As the new President and CEO of the Oregon Symphony, Scott Showalter will have an important role in the Portland music scene this coming year. 

In his new role, he oversees the work of the state’s largest musical organization. The $15-plus million operation includes 76 musicians and 30 administrative staff, presenting nearly 80 concerts annually for over 150,000 audience members. 

Read More

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Jennifer Williamson

Democratic Oregon Representative Jennifer Williamson will start her second term in Salem in 2015, and it should be an interesting one. 

Williamson re-election for another term this November, after raking in 85 percent of the vote, shows her district was pleased with her work last year and believes she has a bright future ahead of her. 

With important issues coming to the table in the 2015 legislative session, Williamson’s second term will be one to watch. 

Read More

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Robin Lopez

For years, the Portland Trail Blazers have wanted a big man. Recently, the whole City of Portland found one; his name in Robin Lopez.

Before suffering a broken hand Dec. 16, Lopez was averaging 10 points per-game with 7 rebounds.

Look for Lopez in 2015 because he’s a young, talented, smart player on a young, talented, team.

Read More

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Doug Adams

Doug Adams, sous chef of Portland's Imperialrestaurant, is a rising star in the culinary world and has recently gained national attention as one of the top contestants on Bravo's Top Chef season 12. 

Will he win the competition? 

Read More

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Charles McGee

The biggest question surrounding Charles McGee in 2015 is whether or not you’ll see his name on a ballot. 

The President and CEO of Portland’s Black Parent Initiative made headway in 2014 educating parents of African American children to increase success and wellbeing. 

Read more

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Nattapon Chaimanonart

Nattapon Chaimanonart, CEO of the Portland health-focused tech company Ultra, Inc., has made a big splash with his first product, and should continue to do so in the future.

With a background in academic research and industrial intergraded circuit design, Nattapon was also an expert reviewer for peer reviewed journals and international conferences before starting Ultra, Inc. in Portland. 

Ultra, Inc. specializes in wearable devices to monitor environmental conditions that impact health. Their first product, launched in early 2014, picked up national attention. 

Read More

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Storm Large

Fact is, we’ve been watching (Susan) Storm Large for years now. 

The punk rock/cabaret author/actor/artist is has been one to watch ever since she blew into Portland over a decade ago. 

But the coming year (and years) could be a bit different for Ms. Large. She has long outlived her reality star fifteen minutes of fame (courtesy her time with Tommy Lee on the tv show, Rockstar: Supernova). She continues to be one of two incredible co-chanteuses who sing the songs of Pink Martini all over the world.

Read More

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Travis Knight

Knight is the president and CEO of LAIKA Inc., a company that runs the animation studio responsible for films like Coraline and ParaNorman.

Knight reportedly hopes to develop an annual release schedule for the studio's future projects, along with other ambitions. 

Over the years, Knight has learned from his father - Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Along the way, he's also learned a completely different set of skills from hanging around show business. 

Read More

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Steve Novick

Steve Novick has been a lightning rod since he entered office in 2013.

Portland’s Transportation Commissioner has been at the center of two of the biggest stories at City Hall this year: the city’s response to the ridesharing company Uber and the Portland Street Fee.

Both issues have drawn heaps of criticism to City Hall. In both cases, Novick has been a feisty advocate for what he thinks is right - even if many people don’t agree with him.

Whether it’s facing down irate upper income homeowners who don’t want a fence building on the Vista Bridge, touching the third rail of politics (a new tax) or taking on scofflaw startups, Novick doesn’t shy away from a fight.

We assume 2015 will hand him plenty of opportunities to get into the ring.

He’s always been a man to watch, because you never know what he’s going to say.

Read More

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Teressa Raiford

Teressa Raiford took on a leadership role in Portland activism this year, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2015. 

A Portland native, Raiford first made a name for herself as an activist working with the Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs, Unite Women and World Arts Foundation, Inc. She also ran for Portland City Council in 2012 and 2014.

However, Raiford’s work with Don’t Shoot Portland this year kept the group and police accountability in the spotlight. 

Read More

Prev Next

Emma McIlroy 

When you talk about iconic homegrown success stories in Portland, clothing and lifestyle brand Wildfang is always already a part of the conversation.

In unleashing Wildfang International Inc., Emma McIlroy opened up a new way for women across the country to express themselves through style, and it’s not slowing down in 2015.

Read more

Prev Next

Brent Barton

Brent Barton is one of the new faces in Oregon Democratic Party that is filled with lots of old ones. While Barton has been around the legislature since 2008, he’s one to watch because his future is bright, in part because of his age and ambition.

“He’s a young face,” said Jim Moore, Director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University. “The Democratic Party, while it seems to have a lock on state government, everyone who's been there has been there for 20 years.”



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