Happy International Women’s Day!
To celebrate this day, we want to share some notable women in the business world, past and present. Currently, individuals such as Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!), and Ursula Burns (Xerox) are leading the charge as women make their corporate mark in 21st century. But what about in terms of entrepreneurs?
The business world is filled with brilliant female entrepreneurs—past and present—who transformed various industries. So in honor of International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the most prominent female entrepreneurs, then and now:
Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816): Goddard is considered to be the first female publisher in America, doing so in 1766. She is also known for being the first American postmistress. But her ultimate claim to fame is for printing the very first copy of the Declaration of Independence. #USA
Lydia Pinkham (1819-1883): Lydia Pinkham is renowned for her innovations in herbal home remedies, specifically for women. Basing her operations out of Lynn, Massachusetts, Pinkham repositioned her existing product line and began advertising exclusively to women and educating them about their unique health issues. In the 19th century, Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound became one of the most notable patent medicines and Pinkham herself was considered a champion for women’s health in an age dominated by male needs.
Elizabeth Arden (1878-1966): Elizabeth Arden is arguably the most influential individual in the history of cosmetics. Born Florence Nightingale Graham (Elizabeth Arden is her business name), she moved from Ontario to New York to start her own cosmetics business. She initially got her start introducing the concept of a beauty cream and eye makeup to American women, revolutionizing cosmetics as we know it. At the time of her death, Arden was among the wealthiest women in America.
Estée Lauder: You’ve probably seen her products at your local hair salon, and for good reason. Estée Lauder is considered to be one the most significant figures of the cosmetics industry in history. Born in Queens, NY to Hungarian immigrants, Lauder and her husband, Joseph, started the company in 1946. Over the next fifteen years the company expanded internationally, adding locations in London and Hong Kong. Lauder was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was on Time Magazine’s list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.
Coco Chanel: Coco Chanel is considered to be the one of the leading fashion designers of the 20th century. To put it simply, Chanel changed the game of the fashion world, specifically when it came to women. Prior to World War I, women’s fashion was limited to constricting and plain corsets. Chanel designed and developed outfits for women that were more sporty, casual and elegant. Born in France in 1883, she is recognized for liberating women’s fashion and turning it into what it is today. You’ve probably heard of Chanel No. 5, her signature scent still popular today.
Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss: Hyman and Fleiss are the Co-Founders of Rent the Runway, a retail company that allows customers to rent designer dresses at a discount. After meeting in Harvard Business School and discussing their entrepreneurial ideas, the two women agreed that a void existed in women’s fashion and sought to fill it, thus Rent the Runway was born. Currently, Rent the Runway is valued at around $400 million and has raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital.
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin: Weisberg and Zakin are the Co-Founders of The Skimm, a daily newsletter that aggregates and condenses the biggest stories on the web for easy consumption. The two would-be entrepreneurs met while working as producers for NBC News and quickly bonded over their love of the media and current events. Originally meant for young females, The Skimm has quickly expanded its target audience and has become a go-to resource for users eager to find out what’s happening in the world without having to resort to multiple websites and super-long content. In 2014, The Skimm raised $6.25 million in funding and was named one of Oprah’s Favorite Things
Tory Burch: Tory Burch is the Co-Founder and CEO of her eponymous fashion label and her rapid rise over the last decade is unparalleled in the industry. Her brand—which includes ready-to-wear shoes, handbags, accessories and more—is carried at over 3,000 department stores all over the world. Her refined style, known as preppy-boho, is extremely popular of women of all ages and is influenced by the style of the 1960s and 70s. Burch, 48, was listed as the 79th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and is worth $1 billion.
Women have had a significant impact on business for decades and are only gaining more prominence in the corporate and entrepreneurial world. We hope you enjoyed our little history lesson and are doing your part to celebrate International Women’s Day!