In tribute to the women who blazed those trails and made it possible for sisters around the world to get out of the kitchen and into the world of business, this article would be remiss without at least one notable late.
You would have to be living under a rock for over a hundred years not to recognize this name. At a time when women weren’t allowed to even wear makeup let alone run a lemonade stand, Elizabeth Arden started what is now a billion-dollar industry.
In 1910, the Canadian opened her first spa on Fifth Avenue in New York City where she hired a team of chemists to develop her unique skincare products. Fifty-six years later, Arden passed away leaving behind a global brand of 100 salons worldwide.
Arden will forever be remembered as the first woman on the cover of Time magazine in 1946, and the company’s net worth is over a billion dollars now. She chartered a new course for women in history – that of the business mogul.
Cher Wang makes women in tech look as comfortable as granny panties during lockdown! The co-founder and Chairperson of HTC Corporation has a staggering net worth of well over a billion dollars.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Wang began her path to success while working for her sister who cofounded First International Computer in 1980. It was while selling FIC motherboards that Wang had her novel idea for HTC – computers that could travel with you.
After conquering laptops, Wang’s business shifted gears and moved into the mobile phone industry. By 2011, Wang had that market cornered, becoming the largest cellphone company in the U.S. ahead of Apple and Samsung.
After stepping down as CEO last year, Cher will continue as the struggling HTC’s Chairperson while ensuring the company’s expansion into the exciting realms of Virtual Reality, AI, IoT, and 5G technology. The former number one person on Forbes’ Taiwan Rich list never says die.
As the founder of The Huffington Post, as well as editor-in-chief and president of the Huffington Post Media Group which is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing media companies in the world, Arianna Huffington was classified as one of the world’s most influential women.
The international media mogul and prolific author of 15 books moved to London from Greece to earn her master’s degree in economics at the University of Cambridge. After moving to the U.S., Huffington’s politics saw her running against Arnie Schwarzenegger for California governorship.
Arianna chose to walk away from the success of The Huffington Post after selling it for $300 million to AOL. She launched a new start-up company dedicated to health and wellness, Thrive Global, after collapsing in her office from fatigue caused by overworking.
Huffington made Forbes’ “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2011, and by 2014, she was at number 52. She executive produced the “Valley of the Boom” docuseries about the tech boom of the 1990s and is on Uber’s Board of Directors.
Sara Blakely’s story starts off differently from the others in that she did not have a close relationship with success at all before hitting the jackpot with none other than the billion-dollar enterprise known as SPANX shapewear.
Blakely failed her LSAT admissions exam for law school so reportedly applied to get a job playing Goofy at Disney World! She spent several years selling fax machines and moonlighting as a stand-up comedian, and yet now she is an occasional guest investor on “Shark Tank.”
Sara stumbled upon the SPANX idea out of necessity after wanting pantyhose without feet. On approaching the male-centric hosiery mills to present her idea, she was turned away as they preferred dealing with established companies and not lone women in cut off stockings.
SPANX was a one-woman show from the beginning and Sara handled all aspects of the business, including marketing, logistics, and product positioning. She took her design into department stores herself, refusing to trust its success in the hands of others.
In 2013, Blakely became the very first female entrepreneur to join the “Giving Pledge” by donating half of her amassed fortune to charity, and this year, she has given $5,000,000 to support female-run SME’s during the coronavirus pandemic.
On the other side of the globe in Nigeria, the 2016 winner of Unilever’s Young Entrepreneurs Award, Cynthia Ndubuisi decided to uplift her countrywomen who make up 70% of the labor force on cassava plantations by starting her own plant, Kadosh Production Company (KPC).
Before that, Ndubuisi had had an idea for an ecologically-friendly, toxin-free, biodegradable dishwashing soap she called EverGlow. Made entirely from plant matter, Cynthia had recognized a gap in the Nigerian market and jumped in with both feet.
Now, with KPC, what used to take women 4 days to process is only a 12-hour job. KPC intends on reaching at least 65% of female cassava farmers this year and aims to positively impact 10 million households.
The plant also converts the waste product of cassava peels into a nutritious animal feed which makes the process 200% faster, 20 – 30% cheaper, and way more productive than ever before. Women farmers are encouraged to swap their cassava peels for a 20% discount.
And so women keep rising, thinking outside the box and chartering new and exciting territory…as only the fearless can…