Now more than ever, women are making incredible strides in the field of entrepreneurship. In fact, research suggests in the US alone there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses that are contributing a colossal $1.8 trillion a year to the economy. And this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the most inspiring female entrepreneurs from across the ecommerce industry. We hope their stories of success and determination motivate you to start your own journey to entrepreneurship.
So without further ado, here are 21 women-led direct-to-consumer brands and the amazing females who founded them:
Jordanna Kier and Alex Friedan founded LOLA in 2014 with a simple idea: women shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to feminine care. From 100% cotton pads and tampons to cramp-care and sexual wellness products, LOLA is reinventing how women talk and feel about their reproductive health. What started as a conversation between Jordanna and Alex is now a fast-growing, start-up business with $35.2 million in funding, and has donated over 1 million tampons to women in need.
In 2016, at 21 years old, Carina Chaz created the brand DedCool as an extension of her passion for conscious living, cologne, and masculine scents. As fragrance is an essential part of one’s identity, Carina believes in only creating scents that are composed of the highest quality and natural ingredients, and that’s exactly what customers get when they shop at DedCool. Disrupting the world of fragrance by creating a line that is uni-sex, vegan, cruelty-free, and non-toxic scents with a naturally chic edge, DedCool is making its mark on the world of beauty.
Brother Vellies was founded in 2013 by prominent fashion figure, Aurora James to keep traditional African design practices and techniques alive. Now handmade artisanally across the globe, Brother Vellies creates luxury, on-of-a-kind accessories that celebrate cultural histories, timeless design and fashion transparency.
Beau Wangtrakuldee is the founder of AmorSui, a brand that produces protective clothing for female scientists. The brand launched in 2018 after Beau was badly burned by a chemical spill through her lab coat. She then made it her mission to make PPE safe and stylish, as well as more inclusive. True to her word, Beau recently launched reusable, antimicrobial hijabs to protect Muslim women in STEM. Also, since COVID-19, AmorSui has been supporting front-line workers, as well as society at large with PPE supplies.
Ariel Kaye launched Parachute in 2014, as an online-only, direct-to-consumer brand focused on creating impeccable bedding. Since then, Parachute has expanded to other areas of the home, including decor accessories, and has opened several brick-and-mortar stores. With a focus on functionality and simplicity, Parachute’s products are perfect for any consumer looking to create a serene sanctuary.
Founded by Kay Sides, Roam offers a range of innovative and fashion-forward sliders and sandals. Known for its faux-fur textures and fun prints, the brand continues to push the boundaries of shoe design.
Stasher was founded by Kat Nouri whose lightbulb moment came when she was packing her children’s lunch. Kat realised just how much single-use plastic waste she and her family were producing every day, and so she went on a hunt for an alternative. But instead what she found was an opportunity to create a unique and revolutionary product. Stasher’s silicone bags are keeping plastic out of the oceans and are proving a big hit with conscious consumers everywhere.
Arguably, one of the most popular and successful beauty subscription services, Birchbox has gone from strength to strength over the years. Its founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna found a gap in the market: people were becoming frustrated with searching for the right beauty product and were spending far too much time and money on sampling new products. So, Katia and Hayley came up with a solution that lets consumers try different products without breaking the bank. With over 1 million subscribers, Birchbox was once valued at nearly $500 million.
Founded by fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski, Jade Swim is all about minimalism, versatility and sustainability. Each item in the Jade Swim collection is crafted to sculpt and smooth the body, day or night.
Following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013, Charlotte Instone could not understand why consumers were still not being told who made things they were buying. So, she founded Know The Origin, a sustainability marketplace selling over 200 ethical brands, including an in-house Fairtrade and organic line produced in India. Since launching in 2016, Know The Origin has become a global success, raising a new standard of sustainability and has been voted Ethical Consumer’s most ethical fashion brand.
Inspired by her health struggles and driven by her passion to change the way women around the world care for their minds and bodies, Sara Cullen founded GEM to offer bite-sized, plant-based vitamins designed specifically with women in mind. From combating stress to boosting energy levels, GEM’s vitamins provide the essential nutrients that women need to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
From 90s inspired beaded bags to quirky and colourful necklaces, Susan Alexandra is bringing the joy and sparkle back into everyday accessories. Each item is handmade in New York – cartoons, watermelons and flowers are just some of the brilliantly bubbly and expressive jewellery designs the store has to offer.
Rachel Femi and Naomi Adeyemo created CAVO because they didn’t see their personal fun and eclectic style represented in the candle space. And they also noticed an overarching lack of representation of black people in the eco-conscious space across industries. Each of CAVO’s candles comes in eco-friendly packaging and is accompanied by a Spotify playlist to match its mood.
After working as a fashion designer for a large company, Emily Sugihara realised she wanted a more hands-on creative role. In 2007 she finally decided to combine her need for creative independence and her frustration of finding a stylish reusable bag into Baggu. From tote bags to backpacks, Baggu is the accessories destination for consumers looking for reusable bags that are functional, stylish and affordable.
Blair Armstrong is the founder of the luxury body care brand, Gilded. On a mission to elevate the conversation around body care and provide women with higher quality, more effective wellness solutions, Gilded is helping women rediscover the art of skincare one product at a time.
Award-winning changing bag brand, Storksak was founded in 2003 by Melanie Marshall and Suzi Bergman. With a single aim: to design one bag that does two jobs. Bags that you will love enough to use as your regular bag, with all the intelligent features to make your job easier as parents. Today, their ethos remains the same. They select the very highest quality materials to offer parents bags they can rely on.
Then I Met You was founded by Charlotte Cho on the Korean concept of Jeong: a deep and lasting connection that encourages empathy. With Jeong infused in every aspect of the brand’s products, Then I Met You hopes to inspire its customers to commit to their skincare routine whilst yielding a meaningful connection and achieving rewarding results.
After unsuccessfully searching for a sentimental piece of jewellery for her mother’s 50th birthday, Maya Brenner was inspired to make her own necklace. Soon strangers and acquaintances were asking who the designer was and so, Maya Brenner Designs was born. From beautiful diamond necklaces to unique beaded finger bands, Maya Brenner has something for everyone. In fact, Maya’s designs have caught the attention of big celebrity names including Busy Philipps, Jennifer Lawrence and Megan Markle.
Inspired by Bauhaus Movement’s artists and architects, Mlouye’s founder and Creative Director, Meb Rure creates accessories that stand out from the crowd with geometric shapes and unexpected colour combinations. Lantern handbags to dainty triangle totes are just a few of Meb’s revolutionary handbag designs.
After recognising that hair-care brands were failing to formulate products inclusively and meet the needs of their consumers, Tracee Ellis Ross created Pattern Beauty. The brand celebrates curly, coil-y, and tight-textured hair and its proceeds also go towards helping support organizations and programs that empower women and people of colour.
An industry leader in accessories, footwear and apparel, Rebecca Minkoff burst onto the scene in the early 2000s and has been taking the fashion industry by storm ever since. Today, Rebecca Minkoff is distributed in over 900 stores worldwide including four domestic retail stores and eight international locations.
In addition to her hugely successful fashion brand, Rebecca founded the Female Founder Collective that champions and supports female-led businesses in the hope to normalise female leadership and positively change communities. It’s safe to say Rebecca is an inspiration to us all.
Achieving your dreams isn’t easy, but the women discussed above are proof that it is possible. With a combination of focus, determination and confidence you too could become a successful entrepreneur.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
Happy International Women’s Day!