10 Successful Female Entrepreneurs

Many female entrepreneurs have had to fight gender discrimination to get to the top, and here are 10 successful female entrepreneurs that made it. Due to their successes, many of these female entrepreneurs have become household names.

  1. Estee Lauder (1906–2004) started in 1924 selling creams for her uncle’s company. She and her husband formed Estee Lauder Inc. in 1947. In 1948, she was asked to sell her creams to Saks Fifth Avenue, which sold out in the first two days. She attributed her entrepreneurial success to believing in her products that enhanced women’s beauty, and hard selling. Other lines have been added to her company like Tommy Hilfiger and Aramis. Her brand is sold in over 188 countries today.
  2. Mary Kay Ash (1918–2001) began selling Stanley Home Products then went to work for World Gift. After 25 years, she quit because she couldn’t get promoted. She and her son opened their own cosmetic business and sold out of a small storefront. She attributes her success to P & L (people and love)! Her son continues to operate the business with a sales force of 1.3 million.
  3. Anita Roddick (1942–2007) traveled around the world for several years. She married Gordon Roddick in 1971. While he rode horseback across the Americas, Anita became an entrepreneur and opened up a store called The Body Shop, which sold products she made herself that she had learned about in her travels. A franchise system was set up and The Body Shop went public in 1984. There are now 1980 stores and more than 77 million customers.
  4. Oprah Winfrey (1954-) started out as a news reporter and later a talk show host. Her entrepreneurial efforts have expanded to include her Oprah Winfrey Show, O Magazine and Oxygen Cable Network. Her estimated worth is over $1 billion. She inspires women and has charitable organizations set up to help women and children around the world.
  5. Debbi Fields (1957-) loved to make cookies as a child. After marrying Randy Fields, she opened up a cookie shop called Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery. When no one came in the shop she started giving the cookies away and customers started streaming in. She later changed the name to Mrs. Fields Cookies and added many types of cookies. In 1990 she franchised the business concept and in 1993 sold out to private investors. She has also written several books.
  6. Deborah Meaden (1959-) started out in the textile business after her own little venture failed. Her entrepreneurial success came from buying and selling businesses. She went to work for the family amusement park business, which thrived under her management.  The company was renamed The Generations Group Limited and became a favorite of investors. She sold all but 23%. She is best known for her role in BBC’s "Dragon’s Den".
  7. J.K. Rowling (1965-) began writing the Harry Potter books in 1990. She finally got 1000 books published. The books began winning awards and the rights were picked up by Scholastic Press. In 1998, the movie rights were bought by Warner Brothers. Going from rags to riches herself, J.K. gives back to her community.
  8. Tyra Banks (1973) was the first African-American model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, GQ and Victoria’s Secret. She has been prominent in the media as a TV personality, actress, singer, and in music videos. She modeled in Europe, Asia and New York. She became the host of America’s Next Top Model for fourteen seasons, and the clothing line sells at Wal-Mart.
  9. Stella McCartney (1981-), daughter of Paul McCartney, is a talented, successful, and accomplished fashion designer. She started designing clothes at the age of thirteen and studied fashion design in college. She has designed clothes for several stars, including Madonna, and her clothing brand operates sixteen stores.
  10. Lilly Ledbetter (1938-) after being employed by Goodyear for 19 years, discovered she was making less money than the men. She filed a lawsuit against Goodyear and lost. She continued fighting and finally in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama.
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