Women entrepreneurs face a multitude of challenges, including sexism, a fear of failure, and a lack of female role models. Women everywhere are now carving out new business landscapes, tapping into previously neglected demographics, by providing solutions to real-world problems.
Although women remain significantly underrepresented in some sectors, women-owned companies now account for almost 30 percent of all U.S. businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. In the United Kingdom, 200 prominent British business leaders recently signed an open letter to the UK government, highlighting the chronic finance gap women entrepreneurs face, pointing out that, in the UK, just 9 percent of startup funding goes to women-led organizations.
Here, we explore five organizations that were built by women for women, companies that have risen to the top of their respective markets – and even created new ones.
1. Beauty Pie
Founded by Marcia Kilgore, Beauty Pie is disrupting the cosmetics industry, enabling its members to access high-spec skincare and makeup products at a fraction of their recommended retail price.
The creator of Soap & Glory and Bliss, Marcia Kilgore has cared for some of the world’s most famous faces, including those of Uma Thurman, Oprah, and Madonna.
A rather different experience from that of Avon, Beauty Pie is essentially a buyer’s club for beauty products. For a monthly fee, members are treated to a backstage tour of world-class cosmetic factory production lines, enabling them to purchase products at a fraction of their normal price.
Touted as democratizing the luxury makeup industry, Beauty Pie strips away all of the multi-layered ornate packaging, enabling consumers to concentrate on what really matters, namely, the product. Beauty Pie packaging features no weights, metal cladding, foils, or overshells, making the brand a more ecofriendly alternative to many high-end product lines.
2. Milk Stork
Kate Torgersen conceived of Milk Stork, the world’s first breast milk shipping company, while trying to juggle business trips with breastfeeding twins. To date, the enterprise has delivered more than 3.7 million ounces of breast milk, helping hard-pressed mothers to maintain their commitment to breastfeeding.
Torgersen explains that, with regard to her own breastfeeding dilemmas, she knew there must be a simple solution that could help everyone. She never dreamed that motherhood would lead her into entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, over the past five years, her company has empowered and supported an entire generation of new mothers. Without Milk Stork, many clients would have faced some difficult choices in terms of balancing their need to feed their babies with their working lives.
3. Zolli Candy
Before even becoming a teenager, Alina Morse developed a candy that cleans teeth, presenting children with a tooth-friendly alternative to sugary candies. Moreover, she is the youngest person not only to sell products through major retailers like Amazon.com and Walmart, but also to grace the cover of Entrepreneur magazine.
Morse explains that her greatest honor is to help other women, particularly mothers, to keep their families smiling and healthy with her products. Touted as the “clean teeth candy,” Zolli Candy is 100% natural, allergy and sugar free, and diabetic-, keto-, and vegan-friendly.
Morse’s company recently launched the Million Smiles Initiative, aimed at inspiring, educating, and helping children across the U.S. to smile. The program’s ultimate mission is to reduce tooth decay throughout the country, protecting the world’s most powerful source of joy and happiness: children’s smiles.
4. Girls Who Code
Regarded by many as one of the world’s top few inspiring business leaders, Reshma Saujani founded Girls Who Code with the aim of closing the gender gap in tech in general and computer science in particular, where there are 13 percent fewer women in computer science than there were in 1995, when a little more than one-third of computer scientists in the U.S. were women.
Girls Who Code aims to reverse that trend. To date, the organization has reached more than 500 million people via its campaigns, books, online resources, and advocacy work, operating both domestically and internationally. Girls Who Code has served more than 450,000 girls worldwide through its clubs, college loops, and summer immersion programs. 50 percent of girls served by the organization identify as Black or Latinx or have low-income backgrounds.
5. She Should Run
A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, She Should Run inspires women from all backgrounds to pursue leadership roles, encouraging them to run for office.
Since the organization was established in 2011, it has encouraged more than 26,000 women to run for office, preparing 18,000 more for a promising future in politics.
As the founder and CEO of She Should Run, Erin Loos Cutraro explains that political power is a pillar that is vital for the health of the country. Nevertheless, she points out that women are drastically underrepresented at all levels across 500,000-plus elected offices in the U.S. today. She Should Run strives to enable young girls to be who they really want to be, empowering them to pursue leadership roles and close the politics gender gap in the process.