Carbon38 was born from an innovative idea, a spontaneous contest entry, a fake website, and 14 post-it notes.
Today, we are—
At the helm of Carbon38 is our CEO and Co-Founder, Katie Warner Johnson.
At the age of 9, Katie began training as a professional ballerina. The studio served as an outlet for her imagination—her affinity for mixing fashion with training was a natural extension of her creative relationship to the space.
Katie’s practice saw her through high school and into Harvard, where she decided to pursue a degree in Art History and Architecture. She started work as a financial analyst after graduation, but found herself longing for the challenges and delights of her first passion—ballet. So she packed up her desk at Deutsche Bank and began touring the globe with the Broadway production of Cats. A career-ending injury would later force her to make another professional change, but this time she was determined to stay in the studio.
Katie entered the fitness world as an instructor and eventually become a coveted celebrity trainer in Los Angeles. Her approach to dressed-up studio style drew interest from her clients, and she identified a gap in the market—one she had been unwittingly exploring since her days as a young ballerina.
In this space between fashion and active, Katie saw an opportunity. And after attending a convention on women-led startups, she decided to make it a reality.
Since Carbon38’s inception in 2013, the company has found enormous success in a curated selection of top labels, an exclusive branded label, and collaborative capsules with designers and artists. Katie is at the forefront of the brand’s success, growing the company to a multi-million dollar business, raising successful funding rounds, and hiring a dynamic team of industry leaders to support her vision.
Katie believes in a certain power of dressing—one that combines the DNA of activewear with ready-to-wear pieces that are designed for the modern woman. Supporting women, especially within her own industry, has been at the core of what Katie does. Carbon38 invests in and carries a majority of women-led brands (70% of our brand selection today), working to champion companies who may not otherwise receive the capital and exposure needed to scale their success.
Katie’s efforts and innovation are eminent in the industry. She has been named a member of Marie Claire’s New Guard, honored as one of Goldman Sachs' Builders and Innovators, and recognized as one of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women in 2016.
In November, Katie Warner Johnson attended the Women 2.0 Startup weekend and purchased our URL—www.carbon38.com.
In January, we launched the official Carbon38 Instagram.
Wondering why we posted a picture of Tilapia? Same.
In January, we started conducting business from a one-bedroom apartment and hired our first employee.
In July, we began fundraising.
In September, we received our first check for $100K from the Winklevosss Twins—yes, those twins.
In November, we launched as an E-commerce site focusing only on activewear.
In February, we brought our total fundraising to $1 million.
In September, we leased an office in West Hollywood with desks and computers for all 9 employees.
In September, we started our Series Seed fundraising, raising $11 million.
In November, we launched the first exclusive Carbon38 Branded Label Collection—a mix of active, elevated basics, and signature prints.
In August, our exclusive Takara Shine was born (to date, we’ve sold over 500,000 pairs).
In November, we hit the other coast and opened a pop-up shop on Los Angeles’ famous Roberston Blvd.
In December, we launched our first collaboration with "Love Me" artist, Curtis Kulig.
In January, we partnered with award-winning designer Jonathan Simkhai for our second collaboration.
In March, we launched our first line of ready-to-wear pieces—The Met Collection.
In January, a new investor contributed $15 million.
In December, we grew up and moved to our Culver City offices.
We made a name for ourselves in the world of luxury fashion, partnering with a new wave of high-end labels and designers.
In March, the global pandemic began.
We sold our Culver City offices, set up shop as a remote team, and threw ourselves into learning how we could best serve our customers and community.
In March, we partnered with Girls Inc, of Greater Los Angeles.
In August, we launched a collaboration with EleVen by Venus Williams—our first tennis collection.
In September, we re-platformed to Shopify.
In October, we partnered with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to raise funds for the world's most promising research and awareness campaigns.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
In March, we announced our rebranding, including a new logo, a new feel, and a new us.
Why the name
“I always loved chemistry as a subject and was thoroughly enthralled by the periodic table. I knew I needed a name to encompass all the unforeseen that was to come. As Carbon is one of the most abundant elements in our bodies, it felt compelling for the business I was beginning to create. I added on a number sequence, and our name was born.”