I get inspired by learning about women entrepreneurs. I love to follow the highs and lows that entrepreneurs experience as they're building a company, the often humble beginnings and the failures, the risks they take along the way, and how women-led businesses have the potential to create large shifts in society. Here are a few of my favorite female leaders:
Janice Bryant Howroyd - Founder and CEO of ActOne Staffing Agency
Janice Bryant Howroyd grew up in a segregated small town in the south. She got a job as a temporary secretary in Los Angeles and saw that managers were desperately in need of clerical support. Janice started a staffing agency in 1978 with $900, a $600 loan from her mother, and a phone. She set up an office in front of a rug shop and it was a big day when she was able to get a fax machine. At the time, this industry was dominated by older white men. Janice helped companies fill clerical positions and got all of her business through word of mouth -- leads for applicants and open positions within companies. Janice is a proponent of opening the door for others as a minority and a woman. As her business grew, she expanded into temp work which has led to exponential growth. Janice is the first African-American woman to own a billion dollar business.
Jenn Hyman - Co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway
Jenn Hyman is a go-getter who sees obstacles as opportunities and doesn't take no for an answer. She had her lightbulb moment when her sister was looking for a dress to wear for a wedding, but didn't want to wear anything in her closet because pictures already existed of her on social media. Jenn developed the concept while getting her MBA and got her start by hosting popups at school to see if women were interested in renting clothes, what shape the dresses would be returned in. How it works is you go to the Rent the Runway website, pick out a dress that might cost thousands of dollars but you pay a fraction of the price, and once the event is over, you send it back. Their business is all about expressing individuality, trying new things and taking fashion risks, and feeling confident and beautiful. Rent the Runway has over 11 million members and partnerships with over 600 brands.
Shazi Vizram - Founder and CEO of Happy Family Organics
Shazi Vizram was a proponent for natural food and healthy lifestyle when, as a business school student, a friend approached her about the lack of options for store bought baby food. Shazi did a little research and realized the baby food industry hadn't changed since the 1930s and provided low profit margins for retailers. Shazi started out with grassroots funding from friends and family and launched Happy Family Organics, a certified B Corporation, with a line of frozen baby food. She realized it would take too much effort to educate consumers about frozen baby food, so a few years into the business, Shazi launched a line of baby food pouches. This year, the company has partnered farmers to create a line of baby food products that are made with ingredients that use regenerative farming practices to mitigate the effects of climate change and offset carbon emissions.
Sarah Kauss - Founder and CEO of S'well
Sarah Kauss's mission is to rid the world of single-use plastic bottles . After taking a swig of warm water on a hike in Tucson, Sarah Kauss got the idea to make a metal bottle that keeps cold liquids cold and hot liquids hot. Sarah used $30,000 in savings to start S'well, and her first product was a 17-ounce bottle that kept cold liquids cold for up to 24 hours and hot liquids hot for up to 12 hours. S'well has since expanded to other products - mugs, food storage containers, barware - infusing everything with style and color and can be found at most large retailers.