It’s Women’s History Month so I’d be remiss if I failed to applaud the contributions of women to business. When we think of women entrepreneurs, it’s easy to identity those in cosmetics (Madam C.J. Walker, Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Mary Kay Ash), fashion (Coco Chanel, Sara Blakely, Tory Burch, Sara Blakely), food (Martha Stewart, Ruth Fertel of Ruth’s Chris Steak House), and the entertainment industry (Lucille Ball, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce). They’ve changed our world. But many women entrepreneurs made their mark in other industries and are what we may think of as unconventional. The following is an update to a blog I posted a number of years ago.
10 women entrepreneurs, past and present, I admire:
- Anne Wojcicki who co-founded 23andMe, a DNA-testing company. Fast Company called her “The Most Daring CEO.”
- Ariana Huffington founded the Huffington Post, which was bought in 2011 by AOL for $315 million.
- Brownie Wise found a product and convinced her boss Earl Tupper to let her sell it; Tupperware was born. She created a new direct sales technique (in-home parties) and was the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week.
- Eren Ozmen founded with her husband an aerospace and defense company that has acquired 19 companies in 34 locations. She’s now the CEO of Sierra Nevada.
- Janice Bryant Howroyd founded ActOne Group, an employment agency and consultancy in Los Angeles that has more than 17,000 clients in 19 countries. It’s the first Black female-led company to have more than $1 million in revenue
- Joy Mangano is an inventor-turned-entrepreneur who launched her success selling the Miracle Mop on QVC. She’s been listed in The 10 Most Creative Women in Business.
- Kate Ryder created Maven, a women’s health app designed for women that enables the user to connect with a doctor for prescriptions and advice via video chat. Launched in 2014, this is part of healthcare for the future.
- Lillian Vernon created a mail order phenomenon from her kitchen table. As the story goes, using $2,000 of her wedding money, she placed ads for matching purses and belts in Seventeen Magazine. The overwhelming response led her to create a mail order catalog. She too ran her company for over 50 years. I met her a number of years ago…what a woman!
- Olive Ann Beech co-founded Beech Aircraft Corp. with her husband. After his death, she ran the company for 20 years, transforming it into a multimillion-dollar aerospace business that was bought out by Raytheon Corp.
- Rachel Drori started a frozen food delivery service, Daily Harvest with her personal savings of $25,000; today the company is worth more than $1 million.
Each year, Forbes lists America’s Richest Self-Made Women. The list includes the most successful women entrepreneurs in many fields. Many of the names are familiar while others are obscure. Many have made it big in a few short years; all did it by their talent, wits, and timing. All inspire young girls to pursue their dreams.