In the midst of this global lockdown, it’s hard not to feel a bit down— creativity dissipating, entrepreneurial endeavors stifled, the whole world stuck in a hiatus. Reflecting upon these past few years, however, can be comforting, when realizing the enormous amount of creative productivity generated since the last recession. In fact, this past decade has been monumental in its innovations and creativity, with new startups reshaping our society. What is perhaps most exciting is that women in particular have become a rising entrepreneurial force. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2019 Report on Women in the Workplace, 250 million women across the globe are entrepreneurs.
Though this influx of female entrepreneurs is substantial, women are still not provided equal or adequate support. The GEM’s 2019 report showed that, despite the rise in numbers, 66% of female entrepreneurs still do not feel that they receive adequate funding. More educational resources, marketing opportunities, and capital need to be provided to female entrepreneurs—especially those of color, who are disproportionately affected by the gender gap. It is more necessary than ever for consumers to utilize their purchasing power and voices to enact change, whether that be through supporting or creating platforms for female entrepreneurs.
Despite these hurdles, numerous inspiring women have generated groundbreaking new ideas in the past few years. They’ve utilized technology, created engaging content, and catered to demographic needs to build communities around their products and services. They are influential voices to be reckoned with. From Tiffany Pham, the founder of Mogul, a platform that provides resources for women in business, to Melanie Elturk, who founded Haute Hijab, the leading hijab brand in the nation, these women are vehicles for change.
Whether you’re an aspiring startup founder, an avid feminist, or a consumer looking to support female startups, keep reading for a list of five female entrepreneurs who will bring inspiration into your day.
1. Payal Kadakia
The mind behind the fitness unicorn of the decade, Payal Kadakia invented Classpass with a single mission: an easy, accessible way to attend almost any fitness class in your area. Instead of paying for a gym membership or attending pricey classes, the app allows members to explore various boutiques for a monthly membership fee. Boxing, trampoline fitness, hot yoga, even wellness classes—you name it, Classpass has it all. In addition to leading this $600 million startup, Kadakia is also the Founder and Creative Director of The Sa Dance Company, a platform that strives to ubiquitize Indian dance in the mainstream media. Follow her Instagram for a glimpse into her life as a mom, an entrepreneur, a dancer, and an activist.
2. Tiffany Pham
CEO and Founder of Mogul Tiffany Pham. Photo Credits: https://www.ofmercer.com/blogs/omindex/tiffany-pham-on-the-secret-to-becoming-a-mogul
Tiffany Pham is the founder of Mogul, a platform that strives to bridge the gender gap in leadership. One of the most influential startups of the decade, Mogul has disrupted the $200 billion recruitment industry with its international partners, recruitment services, and emphasis on diversity and female leadership. Pham has authored several books, such as You Are a Mogul, a self-help book that narrates her experience in moving to America as a French-born Vietnamese, teaching herself how to code, and ultimately founding her groundbreaking startup. Pham has served as judges, co-producers, and co-hosts for various television shows and has received numerous accolades, such as Forbes’, Elle’s, and Business Insider’s “Thirty Under Thirty” awards.
3. Emily Weiss
Emily Weiss is the founder and CEO of the blog Into the Gloss and the makeup brand Glossier. Early in her career, she founded Into the Gloss to provide beauty and skincare insight from women. When the blog took off, she quit her job in styling at Vogue to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors full-time. The mission behind Glossier was simple: to democratize the beauty industry through natural, radiant beauty and skincare essentials. In just six years, Glossier has garnered a cult following among millennial women through its captivating retail location and creative content, its emphasis on natural beauty, and the community it has built with its consumers.
4. Rachelle Hruska
Media entrepreneur Rachelle Hruska is the founder of media platform Guest of
Guest and fashion label Lingua Franca. Upon moving to New York City early in her career, she noticed that NYC party-goers were often “the guest of a guest” at a Hampton’s party, and she began reporting high society culture on her blog. In a personal interview with Hruska, she shared that she spontaneously embroidered “Booyah” onto a cashmere sweater one day as she dealt with postpartum anxiety. The design quickly went viral, galvanizing demand all over Instagram. In 2016, she launched the label of cashmere sweaters embroidered with witty and often political quotes, which became pervasive in the media and on the red carpet in the wake of Trump’s election.
5. Melanie Elturk
Melanie Elturk is the co-founder and CEO of Haute Hijab, the leading designer hijab brand in the nation. When Elturk graduated from law school as a first-generation American, she had no intention of being an entrepreneur— she founded Haute Hijab with her husband simply as a side hustle. However, Haute Hijab immediately filled a huge gap in the garment industry—high quality, comfortable, and beautiful hijabs that empower hijabis, regardless of occasion. Haute Hijab has been featured in numerous publications, from Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia to Popsugar and Elle, as it fights to destigmatize the hijab and establish it as a garment category in the fashion industry.
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Photo Credits: Missbish, Of Mercer, Forbes, The Select 7, and Fashionista.