Over 11 million businesses in the United States are owned by women.
Female-owned brands account for a big chunk of change for the U.S. economy, generating $1.8 trillion a year in sales. But, for entrepreneurial women, it isn’t easy to start a brand in a male-dominated business world. Female founders jump hurdles and face challenges head first to get their brands off the ground. So, when a successful female entrepreneur makes a mark, buckle up and get excited—because their triumphs inspire generations of women to come.
These five female-owned brands know a thing or two when it comes to success. From skincare to EdTech, these female entrepreneurs are kicking ass and taking names as they dominate their industries in 2022.
Brit Nicole Photography
Social distancing in 2020 foretold the decline of weddings. As of 2021, only 1.3 million marriages took place in the United States (compared to the average of 2.1 million annually). But, for entrepreneurs like Brittney Nicole, the shake-up of the wedding industry only energized her growth.
Daring “I Do’s”
If you’re looking for traditional wedding photography, look elsewhere. Nicole’s studio, Brit Nicole Photography, specializes in unexpected and adventurous weddings. While other wedding professionals were waiting for things to go “back to normal,” Brit Nicole Photography embraced the new trends of destination weddings, micro weddings, and elopements.
Brit Nicole Photography is a female-owned brand recognized for pushing boundaries and taking couples on an I Do adventure of a lifetime. From snow-capped mountains in Alaska to the sprawling desert of Moab, Zion, the team of female photographers at Brit Nicole specializes in travel elopements and intimate weddings. Nicole’s groundbreaking wedding photography experience landed her features in POPSUGAR and inducted her into The Knot’s hall of fame.
The wedding industry is a 57 billion dollar machine, and to be a strong player, you need to be willing to be creative, inventive, and nimble. Nicole stood out with her talent for designing an authentic wedding experience that recognizes the shift from the traditional cookie-cutter nuptials to unique destinations and surprise experiences.
The inclusive beauty movement is redefining the make-up industry. Brands like Rhianna’s Fenty Beauty, with its wide selection of foundation tones, have paved the way for inclusive beauty products. Mented, a female-owned brand, finds its niche with makeup for women of color.
In Vino Veritas
Harvard Business School grads Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller found their inspiration for Mented Cosmetics in the bottle of a Pinot Noir. According to them, one evening (after many glasses of wine), they had deep discussions about their mutual frustrations with finding makeup that matched their skin tone. And from this night of drinking, the idea for the perfect nude lipstick for Black women was born.
How’d they get started without any experience in cosmetics?
Like major brands, they started with market research (which primarily meant asking friends and family about their struggles with finding nude lipstick). This led to approaching makeup counters and challenging employees to match the perfect nude to their skin tone. (They couldn’t.) What did they stumble upon in their research? They found there was a huge market for a nude lipstick for women of color—they just needed to make it happen.
YouTube, VC Funding, and Success
So, how did they learn to make lipstick anyway? Well, according to Miller, “You can learn almost anything from YouTube if you just look.” And that’s just what they did. They started with handmade samples of lipstick and went into product development. Johnson and Miller funded their dream with over $1 million in capital raised (an achievement that less than 1% of Black-owned startups reach), with features in Essence, Martha Stewart Living, and top reviews from influencers.
As the 15th and 16th Black women to raise $1 million in capital, Miller and Johnson have scaled and grown Mented. Mented has moved beyond homemade lipstick and has expanded into a full range of inclusive makeup, including eyeshadow, foundation, and glosses.
Educational technology is changing rapidly. AI Technology is front and center in EdTech, but how can it help kids learn? Can this technology help children worldwide? Elna Sarraf, the founder of female-owned brand ROYBI, launched her AI-powered education companion to do just that—help kids everywhere have access to education.
Raised in Iran, Trained in Silicon Valley
Born in Tehran, Elnaz Sharraf witnessed the challenges faced by children with limited learning opportunities. Her dream was to create technology that would provide universal access to education for all children. To make her dream a reality, Sharraf immigrated to the United States in her 20s and graduated from California State University. In 2016, she co-founded iBaby, a WiFi-enabled “smart” baby monitor. And thanks to her new invention, ROYBI, she has been named Woman of Influence through Silicon Valley Business Journal and Entrepreneur of the Year in Silicon Valley.
Get Smart With ROYBI
“Hello, my friend. Welcome back,” says ROYBI, a two-legged, pill-shaped robot. ROYBI incorporates STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in its pint-sized body to tap into a toddler’s curiosity and strengthen cognitive skills. Research shows that AI in the education sector is rapidly growing, and Sharraf and her team lead the way in EdTech. ROYBI was launched in 2019 and was quickly named one of the best inventions of the year by Time Magazine. Since then, ROYBI has gone on to win the World Economic Forum Smart Toy Awards in 2021 and launched a collaboration with the LING Project to provide accessible education to girls and students from low-income backgrounds in Ghana. As remote learning becomes more mainstream, educational toys like ROYBI can make learning fun through play and innovative engagement.
Black Marketers Association of America
Founded in 2017 by Natalie Gullat, the Black Marketers Association of America (BMAA) seeks to empower, elevate, and educate Black marketers throughout their marketing careers. BMAA has grown from an intimate digital networking group on the app GroupMe to an official organization with members across the United States. But, it wasn’t easy to create a professional organization from the ground up.
Celebrating and Empowering Black Marketers
For Natalie Gullat, the biggest challenge of developing BMAA wasn’t finding people to join but finding the time to grow the organization. When she started BMAA, she worked full-time at a leading SaaS company. As the first Black marketing organization, the pressure was on to be perfect—so she quickly recruited a passionate executive board to help the brand succeed.
What sets BMAA apart from other professional organizations?
Besides being the only professional marketing organization geared toward empowering Black marketers, BMAA also doesn’t have chapters. This means that location is not a barrier for entry for new members, as long as they reside in the United States. Digital communities are at the heart of BMAA (it started as a networking group on an app, after all), making it easy for members to connect no matter the distance.
The first of its kind, BMAA has grown to reach thousands of Black marketers and partners with brands like Zulily, DoorDash, and The Home Depot, to increase diversity within the B2B marketing space.
From the tropics of Singapore, Sabina Munshi has built a cult following around her Baréskin skincare label. Baréskin offers a range of skin products made for island life where tropical heat can leave your skin needing extra care.
Youthful Skin for Tropical Environments
Baréskin began as a passion project, by digital content strategist Sabina Munshi. After moving to Singapore (known for its tropical climate), she noticed particular skin challenges from the hot and humid environment. Through feedback from a very tight-knit community of mothers, she developed insight into what women were looking for in their skincare products. Mainly, they wanted products that highlighted their natural glow without fuss. Overnight she went from dabbling in creating a skincare product for herself to launching a female-owned brand line to help many others with the same concerns.
Dare To Wear Bare
“Clean-look” beauty is one of the newest beauty trends, thanks to TikTok videos. Older generations may know this as the “no make-up-make-up” look, as this trend (with nearly 48 million views) is centered on fresh-faced dewy skin. Baréskin is a product that aligns with this trend, with a focus on products that help customers get the coveted no-makeup look by making their skin look radiant. Baréskin innovates by aligning its rich product with traditional Asian facial tools to combat skin problems. While Baréskin is currently only available in Singapore, it’s on the verge of spreading internationally.
Learn From Female-Owned Brands
Girl power, woman power, call it what you want, but it’s a force to be reckoned with in the business world today. There are 114% more female-owned brands than there were 20 years ago, and there’s no stopping the flood of women entrepreneurs in the years to come. These five female-owned brands herald the success of future women innovators.
Fearless and Female-Owned Research & Strategy
As a female-owned company, we are unafraid of the uncharted. When it comes to research and strategy, we work with brands as ambitious as we are. If you are looking for the answers to profitable and sustainable growth, we can help. Let’s chat.