8 Female Entrepreneurs That Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators | TrueToast

8 Female Entrepreneurs That Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators

Female Entrepreneurs

Good news for 2018, folks! Feminism, which is historically defined by Merriam-Webster as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” is in the air.

Not only is it in the air from a social perspective, but also, it’s progressing in the workplace and in the entrepreneurial sphere. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t see the reality, as we have a long way to go in terms of achieving total equality in the business world — a 2017 poll from Fortune indicates that 30 percent of working women have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” from male colleagues, and 25 percent of that 30 percent have “identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.”

Women are Forging a New Path in Entrepreneurship

More and more female entrepreneurs are taking their careers to new heights. And some even have managed to forge their own space in a male-dominated business world even before women’s suffrage was a thing in 1920. Whether they started their careers in 1910, or they’re dominating today’s tech-influenced business world, these five examples of female entrepreneurs are trailblazers we can all stand to learn from.

8 Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs to Look Up To

1. Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

While her status as Facebook’s COO may not necessarily qualify her as an entrepreneur in the traditional sense, Sandberg utilized her self-created wealth through her successful career to form new entities. She formed Lean In, an organization created to support working women (including entrepreneurs), and has authored two books. Her first, also titled Lean In, promotes the advancement of women in any workplace environment. Her second book showcases her humanity — Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy was written following the death of Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg, in 2015.

What Can We Learn?

Sandberg exemplifies how acquired wealth through a “day job” can lead to starting a company even if not for a profit (perhaps, in her case, for something even more important than a profit). Her resilience after her husband’s death is nothing short of extraordinary, and something any entrepreneur would be smart to model.

2. Ree Drummond

Ree Drummond

You have probably never heard the name Ree Drummond, but once you find out that she is in fact the Pioneer Woman, you’ll realize that you’ve heard of Drummond after all! After leaving city life behind to move to a farm with her husband, Drummond grew to embrace all aspects of the “pioneer” life, and established the Pioneer Woman, which started as a blog. Drummond’s business idea has now grown to include a product line, a print magazine and even a television show on the Food Network.

What Can We Learn?

You can take a new experience, embrace it, and even turn into a lucrative enterprise! Also, entrepreneurship does not start and end with an initial idea. It can grow into something much bigger than you ever anticipated. And finally, ideas can start simple, allowing them room to grow. If you look just at Drummond’s “The Pioneer Woman” logo, all it consists of is the site title in distinctive cursive. Sometimes, less is more!

3. Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington

If you’ve never read The Huffington Post, chances are, you do, in fact, live under a rock. After achieving immense international success following the establishment and operation of the Post, Huffington has since gone on to publish books. Her most recent, The Sleep Revolution, discusses the spread of sleep deprivation in the United States and its effects.

What Can We Learn?

Be different. For those of us who do not live under rocks and have read articles brought to us by The Huffington Post, it is apparent that these articles are constructed differently than its more conventional news competitor sites, and features a larger number of original, community-based voices. Huffington built a unique brand through the Post, and it has allowed her to use one passion (writing) to pursue another (self-help).

4. Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

While you may not recognize Danielle Smith’s name, that’s what makes her so unique. She’s just like you and me and the stressed-out mom who lives next door to you! Smith established Detroit Maid in 2013, after working several different jobs across a vast variety of fields. As a life-long entrepreneur, beginning even in her childhood, she’s consistently had a knack for creating a service to meet her own needs, as well as the needs of those like her.

What can we learn? 

Anyone can be an entrepreneur. Anyone. Smith created her first entrepreneurial service at age 11, and while it may not have taken off (understandably so as a child), she chased every dream since then. She’s also expert at utilizing her social media presence through Twitter, in order to build her business. Second lesson? Social media is key in today’s world of entrepreneurship!


5. Debbi Fields

Debbi Fields

Another name you may not have necessarily heard of… but if you have a sweet tooth, you’ve heard of Mrs. Fields! What you may not know? Fields (now going by Debbi Fields Rose after her second marriage to Michael Rose) opened her very first bake shop in Palo Alto, California in 1977, with a goal of selling a total of $50 in profit from cookies sold. That one shop, initially established to make ends meet for Fields’ family, grew into an empire of 700 stores, not including mail order and internet customers.

What Can We Learn?

One simple skill, whether that’s baking killer chocolate chip cookies, editing essays or folding fitted sheets (ugh, who can actually do that with any type of prowess and dexterity), can be honed and crafted into a business opportunity. Even if the honing and crafting of that skill doesn’t lead to the opening of 700 stores, it can lead to a following. And you can consider that a success.

6. Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel

Who says all feminists have to defy the fashion industry and not give into fashion trends? That’s a stereotype I don’t adhere to, and certainly Chanel didn’t back in 1910, when she established her first shop in France that sold only her original designs of fashion hats. She later moved into cosmetics and launched the world-famous Chanel No.5 perfume in the 1920s. Following the perfume’s success, she continued to send her unique designs into the world with her trademark black suit and little black dress.

What Can We Learn?

Other than the fact that subscribing to fashion doesn’t disqualify you from being a card-carrying feminist, of course, we can learn that you can start small, you can utilize your creativity and you can reinvent a pre-established entity and make it your own. Chanel wasn’t the first person to create hats and suits, and wasn’t the first person to manufacture perfume. But she took what existed, understood what her audience thought was wrong with what existed, and made it hers as well as theirs.

7. Beyoncé Knowles

Beyonce Knowles

Yes, the one and only Queen Bey is, in addition to a musical goddess, a badass entrepreneur! Knowles is a partner in 22 Days Nutrition — a meal delivery service providing healthy food — with fitness guru Marco Borges, as well as the founder of Ivy Park, a line of athletic apparel. And those don’t take into account the companies, including startups, that she’s invested in in recent years. Thanks to music as well as these entrepreneurial ventures, Knowles and her superstar husband Jay-Z are reported to have a combined net worth of over a billion dollars.

What can we learn? 

You can have more than one passion that generates income! Queen Bey’s life doesn’t start and end with her music, but her music and celebrity as a result of her recording star success has allowed her to make investments and pursue other opportunities. Oh, and you can do all of that while raising children and just being an overall badass human being and role model.

8. Patricia Funegra

Patricia Funegra

Fungera’s company is different than any other in this round-up: it focuses on social justice. The mission of La Cocina VA is “to create opportunities for social and economic change through feeding, educating, and empowering the minds of the community.” Its core belief is “that by using the power of food, [it] can generate opportunities for social and economic change.” Prior to establishing La Cocina VA, Fungera’s experience has encompassed work in South American countries in the marketing field, as well as work in international development organizations in Washington, D.C.

What can we learn? 

Not all entrepreneurs are created alike. All have their own, respective strengths. And not all entrepreneurial ventures are created alike, either — some are established for the sole purpose of helping others, and we could sure use more of that in the world today!

Female Entrepreneurship is the Way of the Future

So what lessons can we learn from these remarkable women? That it takes great courage to blaze your own trail in what is still a male-dominated and male-influenced business world. However, the world is changing, and the climate that Chanel worked in was far less progressive than the Sandberg world. A continued upward trajectory toward equality of the sexes in business is something we can all look forward to. But it’s up to us to keep working and showing what we’re made of, just as all of these women, and many others like them, have.

Know of another female entrepreneur that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

8 Female Entrepreneurs that are Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

4 thoughts on “8 Female Entrepreneurs That Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators

  1. It was a fantastic read! Thank you for sharing it and reminding women all over the world that we are strong, bold, smart, creative and much more we don’t know yet!

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