Founders: Semone Kessler and Colette Kessler

Business Name: Made to Matter


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Tells Us About Your Business:

Matter is a creative, interdisciplinary team with a commitment to great design and meaningful impact.

Day to day, our projects may look different—from portable homeless shelters to clean energy offices to convening refugee jobseekers. Our clients range from companies to campaigns to events.

But whether we’re creating buildings, installations, or interactions, our work is anchored in purpose-driven spatial design. This means we have a pretty rigorous creative process: We ask why before what, we listen before we create, and we measure our outcomes. We think the best way to produce clean work is by getting our hands dirty, and by always keeping people at the center of our approach.

Oh, and we’re sisters.

Founder's Journey:

So about that sibling thing. We’ve had a long time to practice partnership, but Semone’s decade of experience in architecture and Colette’s in corporate impact strategy finally came to a meeting point in 2016.

First, we kickstarted a personal project together to design and build a hexiyurt that would weather the sandy Arizona wind. Shortly after, we were in Croatia interviewing an island mayor about his vision for a wellness center. Around the same time, we decided to apply for a Rockefeller grant focused on local, scalable city solutions with our idea for portable urban shelters.

That application kicked us into high gear. It pushed us to think critically about our future. It also literally required us to choose a name & file the paperwork!

And then we were off.

What are the 3 biggest tips you would give women?

  1. Stay intentional about the sort of leader you want to be.

  2. Be honest about your strengths and limits—find complimentary team members, contract out, ask for support.

  3. Success is a series of small wins.

Founder Trait I was Born With:

Semone: When faced with a limit to my knowledge, I lean on the curiosity to learn.

Colette: When clarifying big ideas or keeping a brainstorm fresh, I lean on a skill I developed early: active listening.

Fave Female:
Jeanne Gang @ Studio Gang Architects.

Tell us something few people know:

We’re twins.

Okay, we’re not twins.