Mariam Naficy, an American entrepreneur, has been involved in various online ventures. She co-founded and chaired the board of Tonic.xyz, a fine art NFT gallery and community centered around generative art. However, Naficy is best known for founding the online design marketplace Minted, and Eve.com, one of the first online cosmetic retailers, launched in 1998.
Early Influences and Education
Born to Iranian and Chinese parents, Naficy’s childhood was spread across six countries, including Egypt, Tanzania, and Iran, owing to her parent’s role as a United Nations development economist. Naficy earned her undergraduate degree in political science from Williams College and later, a master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
During her schooling years in the U.S., she faced challenges with her classmates. In her commencement address to Northeastern University’s class of 2023, she recalled, “while you can’t control the shocks that happen, you can control how you react to them.” She continued, “I told myself this story: ‘I am going to remake myself.’ And eventually, as I grew up, this vision turned into a purpose –– ‘I am always going to remake myself’–– meaning I would be a lifelong learner ready for personal change.”
After her stint as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, Naficy made her foray into entrepreneurship by co-founding Eve.com at the age of 28. The online cosmetic retailer was later sold for $110 million to Idealab in 2000. Naficy also managed projects at Movielink, a downloadable movie service backed by studios including Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Universal.
Ventures into E-commerce
Naficy then moved on to serve as Vice President and General Manager at The Body Shop, leading the launch of their first e-commerce business in 2004. In 2008, she founded the online stationery platform, Minted.com. Despite an initially slow start, Minted grew to employ 400 people by 2019, raising $208 million in 2018.
“As I hand-built our community of artists, I would meet with them across the country, “ Naficy said. “I developed the empathy to encourage them when they were worried their work was inadequate and congratulate them when they married, had children and experienced great professional success.”
Naficy currently sits on the Board of Directors of several companies including Minted, Medium, Victoria’s Secret, and Every Mother Counts. She also serves as a Trustee of Williams College and is a member of the Advisory Council of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
In recent years, Naficy co-founded Heretic Ventures, a venture studio focusing on AI. The firm raised funds from notable names such as Reid Hoffman, Ev Williams, Marc Andreesen, JJ Abrams, and others. Her venture into AI aligns with her track record of being an early adopter of new technologies, evident from her founding of Eve.com, Minted, and Tonic.xyz.
In her commencement speech, Naficy encouraged the class of 2023 to persist in their journey. “Success is not defined by what other people think.” She continued, “You’re right to keep pressing, courageous to keep insisting on how you want to live your one wild and precious life. Every step you take is making the world a better place, and honestly, you’re making the world a better place for all generations, including mine. I feel so optimistic about the future––because the future is in your hands.”