In honor of March being Women’s History Month, let’s give a well-deserved shout-out to the female entrepreneur. The number of women in business rapidly escalated in the 20th century, and in 2021, we’re happy to support even more women starting and running their own companies—especially when their efforts serve the specific needs of the female-identifying market. Here are ten emerging founders to check out and our fave products to shop from their companies. From a single garment that can be worn all through pregnancy and beyond to period products that are as chic as they are sustainable, these items just go to prove how brilliant (and inspiring) these women are.
10 Women Founders to Follow Right Now (And What We're Buying From Each of Their Brands)
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1. spotlight Oral Care
Founded by Drs. Lisa and Vanessa Creaven in 2016
After seeing their patients struggle with a host of oral hygiene and health complaints, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa Creaven (sisters and cosmetic dentists) created a line of products that address each concern with targeted products. Bad breath? There’s a toothpaste for that. Thinning enamel? Try their sonic toothbrush. As for less than pearly whites, the sisters have put together a bundle that includes a whitening toothpaste, a stain removing pen and whitening strips—plus a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and a comforting gum oil. No wonder the line has hit it big time with aisle space at select Ulta and CVS locations nationwide.
Whitening Essentials Bundle
Buy It ($90)
Co-Founded by Cherie Hoeger in 2018
When Cherie Hoeger spoke to her aunt in Venezuela who confided that she’d struggled to find basic hygiene supplies in the empty supermarkets there, she researched alternatives and discovered the menstrual cup. This sustainable product lasts up to ten years, can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and isn’t produced with any of the toxins that tampons can have. She began iterating examples she sourced, then partnered with marketer Amber Fawson to co-found Saalt. Today, the line includes medical-grade silicone cups designed for various flow strengths as well as gorgeous mesh underwear designed in Paris that’s got absorbent panels that are a stylish and eco-friendly alternative to panty liners. And in the three years since the brand launched, Saalt has donated thousands of cups to women in need around the globe.
Starter Period Bundle
Buy It ($84)
3. carol’s Daughter
Founded by Carol Price in 1993
Way back in 1993, Lisa Price started concocting hair care products in her Fort Greene, Brooklyn kitchen. She named the company after her mother and created haircare products that celebrated natural Black hair, skewing from the trend of harsh relaxers. Over the years, her business grew and grew, attracting celebrity investors like Jada Pinkett Smith, adding a storefront in Brooklyn and an appearance on Oprah. Casual. In 2014, Price sold her company to L’Oréal and was able to pay out her investors and accrue real wealth, her unabashed end game. All the while, new collections of quality products, like the below styling crème that revitalizes hair, keep her fans loyal.
Founded by Courtney Klein and Grace Kapin in 2013
Storq’s launch of an ultra-soft modal T-shirt dress has proven to be a huge game changer in the world of maternity fashion. This writer is even considering buying one, even though a bun in the oven is not in the picture. Klein and Kapin started their maternity clothing company in 2013, not based on the burgeoning market (it’s a $2 billion annual domestic industry), but because many of her friends were pregnant and disappointed by the bump-friendly clothing available. (They quip that the options constituted “a black hole for good taste.”) The solution? To make a collection of classic minimalist styles that customers would want to continue wearing throughout each trimester (and beyond), in high-quality fabrics and neutral colors. This T-shirt dress’s super-smooth hand, as well as its perfect neckline and sleeve length, make it the dress to gift your bestie (or yourself) the moment that double red line shows up on the pregnancy test.
Buy It ($90)
5. dame Products
Co-Founded by Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman in 2014
A big fist bump goes out to Dame co-founders Alexandra Fine, a sexologist, and Janet Lieberman, an engineer, for creating this prize-winning sexual wellness company. Our fave product? This hands-free vibrator that’s also waterproof. It’s designed so that the little wings tuck under the outer lips of the labia and sit on top of the clitoris, happily humming away during solo play or penetrative sex. There’s also a genius vibrator that can be worn on your finger, and the brand’s newest offering, a suction toy has turned oral sex a solo endeavor. A round of applause for you, Dame, for thinking outside the box.
Eva II Hands-Free Vibrator
Buy It ($135)
6. pat Mcgrath Labs
Founded by Pat McGrath in 2015
One reviewer tells us everything we want to know about this iteration of McGrath’s popular palettes: “Wow, you want a beautiful palette that can go from day to evening? This is it-the colors are amazing, with almost no fallout. Really, I haven’t come across a more stunning color combination! Pricey but highly recommend!” And as for the founder? She’s a legend in the fashion business for her facility with both natural and Ziggy Stardust-level editorial and runway looks (she’s also the beauty editor-at-large at Vogue UK). And also, she’s renowned for her warmth to everyone she works with. The Northampton, England native grew up with a single mother from Jamaica; today her nickname among fashion insiders is “Mother.” And whoa, Mama—the makeup line she started with a single product in 2015 has now been valued at over a billion dollars. So, buy one of her palettes or color cosmetics if you dare, but don’t be surprised if you’re instantly hooked.
Motherships VII Eyeshadow Palette – Divine Rose Collection
Buy It ($125)
7. rafi Nova
Co-Founded by Marissa and Adam Goldstein in 2020
Marissa and Adam Goldstein are the husband-and-wife team behind Rafi Nova. Their family of six (including two sets of twins!) splits their time between Vietnam and Boston, and while exploring remote Southeast Asian villages, they hatched a plan to share the traditional Hmong handicrafts with a wider audience. Backpacks, pouches and a gorgeous Supernova face mask are made with fair trade Hmong textiles suitable for gifting. And the company continues to innovate—their sensory friendly mask is made in collaboration with Easterseals SoCal, an organization that provides disability services to people with autism and other sensory sensitivities. Read our story on how the carefully engineered mask increases wearability for people with touch sensitivity and consider adding a few to your cart, to give to your front-line worker friends for their long shifts.
Sensory Friendly Mask
Buy It ($14)
Founded by Sahara Lotti in 2016
After years as a successful screenwriter, Lashify founder Sahara Lotti turned her lifelong obsession with false eyelashes into a full-time career. In 2016, she launched Lashify, a customizable way of applying eyelash extensions. With 70 patents and 50 trademarks worldwide, Lotti’s innovative under-lash placement makes natural-looking extensions possible for even the most butterfingered newbie…it just takes a little practice and tutoring (you get a free one-on-one Zoom lesson with the purchase of your Control Kit.) The set contains two types of glue, a sealer, two sets of lashes and a fusing wand. Follow @lashify to catch one of Lotti’s IG Lives—they’re more like freeform hangs with your bestie where she demonstrates whatever look she’s feeling for the day, which might skew more Real Housewives one day or dewy eyed natural woman the next. And while Lotti’s gives off a fun girlfriend vibe, she’s a fierce businesswoman—she’s very vocal about taking legal action against copycat vendors who are infringing on the lash system she created.
9. nue, Founded By Stephanie Montes In 2020
“I'm a curvy Latina,” says Montes, “so I had never been able to wear strapless tops before Nue. The elastic on top always pushed my boobs down further and strapless bras always slipped down or gave me a crease that looked like a quadro-boob.” As a stylist for photo shoots, Montes saw that many women were secretly duct-taping their boobs to create the illusion of a lifted bust. But “it crinkled, pinched, looked bumpy under clothes and didn't blend in with the skin. And the removal…let's just say I had to break out calamine lotion on my own duct-tape experiment.” Montes launched Nue Breast Tape to stretch and move with women’s bodies, to be waterproof and sweatproof, Now, Montes says she can just “tape my less-than-perky C-cup up to wear strapless tops” and is thrilled to share her wardrobe game-changer with other women. By the way, she gives a percentage of every sale to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
10. wallpaper By The Lawns
Founded by Jess Murphy in 2020
In 2020 as New York City issued its first stay at home order, Jess Murphy started designing wallpaper. A career creative who has worked at industry leaders such as Schumacher and Dwell Studio, Murphy’s timing was exactly right—her calm and sophisticated designs are inspired by "movie streaming benders, past travels, rainy mornings, and internet wormholes. A culmination of a year at home.” Murphy donates a percentage of her sales to social and environmental causes including Sky High Farm, an organization dedicated to providing tons of fresh produce and meat to food banks and food pantries in the New York City area.