Historically, women weren’t always welcome in the workplace. The catalyst for change wouldn’t come about until World War II, when women took up work at the factories instead of being at home while the men went off to war. Women proved that they could do ‘men’s work’ and do it well, and they refused to step back down to the housewife role afterwards. Since then, women have been fighting for true equality in the workplace.
Today, more women than ever are turning to business, and the global number of female entrepreneurs is growing by over 10 per cent each year. According to Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell, women are equally as likely or more likely to start a business than men.
Once, women weren’t allowed to work. Now they are building empires with global businesses. Here, we look at female entrepreneurs that broke the glass ceiling in different ways.
Fashion brand Nasty Gal was founded by Sophie Amuruso in her bedroom when she was 22. At the company’s peak, Nasty Gal generated more than $100 million in annual sales, earning Amoruso around $280 million in personal wealth.
In 2015, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy and Amuruso stepped down as chief executive officer. However, she went onto establish Girlboss, a website that empowers women on a variety of things including health wellness and careers. Thanks to her determination and entrepreneurial flair, Amuruso landed on her feet and created a brand to help other likeminded women. What makes Sophie an inspiration is the fact that she didn’t let a fall become a defeat. When we look at inspirational people, often their first venture is a success. It is important to acknowledge those who fall and try again.
Lottie Tomlinson, founder of instant tan company Tanologist, created the brand to help those suffering breakouts from fake tan. For many fake tan users, the goal is not only to achieve a natural glow but to even their skin tone and hide flaws. It seemed cruel and ironic, then, that some of us would be cursed with our skin reacting and breaking out.
In 2018, then-20-year-old self-confessed tanning geek Lottie noticed the demand for fake tan that is kind and gentle to the skin.
Lottie commented: “I’ve always had really sensitive skin and found that most self-tanners would break me out when I used them on my face.
“This was one of the main things that inspired me to create Tanologist, as I wanted a tan I could use on my sensitive skin without needing to worry about breakouts or clogged pores.”
Popstar-turned-entrepreneur Rihanna has put many experienced beauty lines to shame with her Fenty Beauty line. One of the biggest questions posed when we think of Rihanna’s line is why people of colour are still struggling for inclusive makeup colours. A quick scan of a brand’s foundation aisle often reveals white and tan tones, but often doesn’t cater to Black women.
Rihanna may have started her career on stage, but she has also changed the game in the beauty industry. According to Vogue, this is no exaggeration. Although Rihanna’s reputation as a hugely influential global popstar with a staggering fanbase helped the impact of the brand, their offering of 40 inclusive foundation shades helped change the message the beauty industry perpetuates, which Vogue dubbed as “if you don’t fit an age-old Eurocentric ideal of beauty, you are not welcome”.
Fenty Beauty didn’t just point this issue out for the masses – it blew open a huge conversation about inclusivity in beauty.
A lot of celebrities venture into business and do well under their name due to their fan base, even if they produce subpar products. However, Rihanna went into beauty and made it inclusive for people of colour as well as utilising marketing that included men so that it wasn’t only geared towards women. Rihanna used her celebrity status, and instead of using it as a cog to simply generate more money, actually made a difference for the public. This makes her an influence for using her status for good.
While there is still a way to go for true gender equality in the workplace, there have been many achievements and successes we must celebrate. Seeing women succeed can be empowering for others across the world. With such influential women to look up to, hopefully this will inspire others to follow their dreams in their own way.