The number of female-owned firms in the US is 58% higher than it was ten years ago. This surge certainly demonstrates a positive change in the business world, yet, from Wall Street to Main Street, female entrepreneurs still confront many obstacles that their male counterparts do not. One of the greatest challenges that female entrepreneurs encounter is the perception that entrepreneurship is an endeavor best-suited for males. The absence of female businesspeople in the media perpetuates the myth that only men possess the power and risk-taking abilities required for entrepreneurial success. Below is a list of inspiring female business leaders who are shattering this narrative and fostering a positive image of entrepreneurial success for young women.
1. Margaret Coblentz:
Born in Chicago and educated at UCLA and Oxford, Frances Austen’s founder, Margaret Coblentz, has had a serious love for fashion from an early age. After a career in big box retail, Margaret decided to follow her dream and create Frances Austen. Born from the frustration of buying expensive and poorly made sweaters, Frances Austen makes the same quality of cashmere your grandmother owned by working with a heritage luxury factory and the finest Italian cashmere but made for the modern woman.
2. Jess Lee and Lizzie Agnew:
Jess and Lizzie started Modern Citizen as an online retailer and offline community for modern women with a desire to support, connect, and empower one another. At Modern Citizen women are put first — not only in their brand and community but also as architects behind the scenes (not only is the company female-led, all of their investors are also women!). As daughters of entrepreneurs, they’ve always celebrated ambition, and their community of #ModernCitizens inspires them every single day.
3. Emme Parsons:
After a ten-year career in New York City and roles as an Art Director at Lucky Magazine and a designer at Theory, in 2015 Emme Parsons decided to take the plunge and design her own line. She hoped the decision would one day inspire her own son to follow his dreams. Emme Parsons is now her eponymous footwear, which blends sophistication with elevated functionality and is committed to collaborating with family-owned factories and tanneries that are ethically run and adhere to anti-pollution regulations.
4. Natacha Hildebrand:
A former creative strategist and brand marketer whose work has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, Billboard, and Forbes, Natacha Hildebrand is now for AllBright, a collective of member’s clubs, digital education platforms and content verticals for women. Currently overseeing the launch of the brand’s first US location in West Hollywood, she spends most of her days bringing women together through unique programs dedicated to empowerment, collaboration, and learning.
5. Polly McMaster:
After completing her MBA at London Business School, Polly McMaster sought to create a chic, new clothing brand for professional women. She then founded The Fold, a contemporary British fashion label known for its indulgent yet versatile pieces. The brand has quickly become the go-to label for successful women, from business leaders to royalty.
6. Ali Mejia and Mariela Rovito:
Ali Mejia and Mariela Rovito began as colleagues at a global advertising agency. The two decided to deviate from this path because they were struck by the lack of intimate apparel that fostered confidence in women and ventured to create a company that would fill this void. Thus, in 1996, the brand Eberjey was born. Now found in upscale department stores and boutiques across the globe, Eberjey lingerie flatters real bodies and radiates the joy and love of its co-founders.
7. Evelyn Ginossi:
After Los Angeles native Evelyn Ginossi discovered the romance of the South of France, she was inspired to create a line of body care products that infused her two loves: Southern California and Southern France. The result was the foundation of Marine + Vine, the successful body care company whose natural ingredients nourish the body and the soul.
8. Laura Benko:
Laura Benko is known for re-branding Feng Shui. She’s the author of the award-winning bestseller The Holistic Home: Feng Shui for Mind, Body, Spirit, Space and has created a rapidly growing, unique wellness company that makes luxury beauty, health, and home goods.
9. Sara Melis:
Sara Melis has reimagined swimwear by creating La Revêche, a swimsuit line that reflects the essence of femininity. Sara’s social media savvy quickly propelled her brand in the luxury market, and she is transforming the way many individuals look at swimwear.
10. Alexa Buckey & Sarah Pierson:
Alexa Buckey & Sarah Pierson noticed that size-inclusivity was on the rise in the fashion industry but had yet to catch on in footwear. This inspired them to create a brand that changed the way women shop for shoes, and, in 2015, they formed Margaux. Their brand provides women with an unparalleled size range, enabling women to find shoes they love.
11. Maria Peevey:
Maria Peevey, a savvy entrepreneur, brand leader, and industry disruptor, is the Founder and CEO of The Reset – a digital home base for a new generation of women who are choosing to do things differently. In a mainstream culture that focuses on millennials, The Reset is a destination that rejects old stereotypes and celebrates our life resets big and small.
12. Lyndie Benson:
Born from the beaches of Malibu, Lyndie Benson launched Bleusalt in November of 2017. It quickly evolved into a highly sought-after line of women’s and men’s essentials made from the softest fabric on Earth. Bleusalt is a piece of Lyndie’s coveted Malibu lifestyle. It embodies the raw beauty of nature, the spirit of the ocean, and an easy elegance and comfort – unlike any other fashion brand on the market.
13. Kim Phan:
Creative Director and Founder of YUMI KIM, Kim Phan discovered her love for sewing in her late adolescent years. After several years of saving money from her PR & marketing jobs in New York, Kim decided to take the plunge and open her own fashion boutique. Naming the brand after her Yorkshire Terrier and partner in crime, Yumi, the YUMI KIM brand was born. Forging a path that is uniquely your own while looking and feeling flawless, is exactly what
Phan set out to accomplish with YUMI KIM and continues to do so today. YUMI KIM is currently sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Revolve, Anthropologie, Shopbop, as well as on their e-commerce website and Flagship store on the Lower East Side of New York.
14. Lisa Shaller-Goldberg:
Lisa Shaller-Goldberg grew up surrounded by the patterns and prints of her father’s textile company. At the age of 28, Lisa launched her own Sales Agency, Simply Chic, in NYC. There she channeled her East Coast sensibilities into building emerging West Coast fashion and beauty labels. She became a brand builder, accelerating the growth of many name brands such as Hard Candy Nail Polish and Ugg Australia Outerwear. Always ahead of her time, Lisa’s most notable early venture includes developing the trend that fully encapsulated the early 2000s — and launched the Athleisure category as we know it today – the Juicy Couture tracksuit. Once Juicy Couture was sold to Liz Claiborne, Lisa set her sights on a new endeavor. She would channel her creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit to launch Minnie Rose, a luxury knitwear brand. What started out as seven dynamic pieces, has morphed into a lifestyle collection. While Minnie Rose is currently sold in luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus & Saks, high-end boutiques and online retailers such as Shopbop.com, Shaller-Goldberg shows no signs of slowing down.
15. Melissa Kinnoch:
Melissa Kinnoch is the newly appointed CFO and co-owner of Kit and Ace, a Vancouver-based company that creates technical apparel for the modern commuter. Her passion for health and fitness aligns closely with the company’s goal to create office-ready attire for people on the move. This fun-loving executive leads by example and strongly promotes work-life integration. A new mom to a beautiful baby girl, Melissa has officially traded in her motorcycle for a bicycle. She is excited for this next chapter—being a leading woman in business, as a parent.
16. Hannah Spinelli:
Hannah Spinelli began her career as a clothing designer, finding an early passion for shoes stemming from searching for beautiful shoes that fit her narrow (AA!) feet. While living in Florence, Italy, she became mesmerized by the tiny, made-to-order workshops run by cobblers with generations of artisanal expertise. After a brief return to New York City, Hannah traveled back to Italy to study at Arsutoria in Milan, where she met Inez founder Tony Musso. Hannah spent the next 15+ years at some of fashion’s top American houses, designing and developing footwear throughout Spain, Italy, England, the United States, China, and Brazil. She is as passionate about the craft of shoemaking as she is about aesthetics, drawing creative inspiration from art history, nature, artisanal techniques, and the rigor of craft shoemaking. Hannah brings expertise from over a decade working with factories, last makers, and tanneries. At Inez, she designs for a quiet, modern sensibility with contemporary relevance.
17. Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet:
When Tiana Tenet worked as a financial advisor and consultant with families and entrepreneurs at J.P. Morgan, she realized how often busy mothers struggled to get tasty and nutritious meals on the table for their families. This inspired her to co-found The Culinistas with Jill Donenfeld, who had accumulated over a decade of experience as a chef, caterer, and cookbook author. Now, the duo bridges the gap for busy households by providing delicious and healthy food services.