Women's History Month

How These Badass Female Entrepreneurs Are Empowering Other Women Every Day

"Because my mom was an entrepreneur, I learned from an early age that passion and persistence are powerful tools."

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In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating women everywhere who have paved the way for other women to thrive. Thanks to their efforts, the women of today can rise in the ranks of their respective industries, empower others to do the same, and help women across the world gain equal footing. 

We're highlighting some of these badass female entrepreneurs who build other women up — either through their company's products, their company's policies, or both — and asking them why supporting other women is so important to them. 

Take a look at what they had to say. 

Lauren Conrad and Hanna Skvarla — Founders of The Little Market

Lauren Conrad and Hanna Skvarla founded The Little Market in October 2013. The online nonprofit employs women from all over the world by giving them a space to sell their handmade products at a fair price. 

Photo Courtesy of The Little Market 

"Empowering and supporting women is at the core of The Little Market's business model [...] The Little Market, and surpluses are used to purchase more product, expand the number of female artisans we work with around the world, keeping it as local as Downtown Los Angeles and reaching as far as Ghana, and back into the communities of those women that we work with," Conrad told A Plus. 

"By partnering with carefully-vetted cooperatives and social enterprises that provide employment and skill development opportunities for marginalized and underserved women, we are able to empower the female artisans we work with via fair living wages, a safer work environment, and sustainable employment opportunities free of exploitation, which essentially allows them to break the cycle of poverty and provide a better life for their families. It has been incredible to watch as we've been able to positively impact these women's lives, and we continue to be inspired by new artisans and are always looking for new ways to create life-changing income for our partners."

Katerina Schneider — Founder of Ritual

Inspired by her first pregnancy, Katerina Schneider spent years researching and identifying the nine nutrients that women are lacking the most. She then built Ritual, a multivitamin made in the U.S. with the best natural ingredients sourced from around the world.

Photo Courtesy of Ritual

"In our industry (the nutraceutical industry), we as women are always marketed to with some 'BS miracle pill' that is supposed to magically fix our hair, skin, and nails," Schneider told A Plus. "Most of these companies are founded and run by men. Instead, at Ritual, we focus on long-term health. By filling the gaps in women's diets, we created a product that actually takes care of them for the long term [...] We want to empower women to do their own research, which is why we put all of our ingredient sources on our website so she can see where everything is being sourced and why."

Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson — Founders of the Kind Campaign

The Kind Campaign was founded in 2009 after Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson finished filming their documentary Finding Kind, which was about "the mean girl phenomena." During filming, Paul and Thompson realized the need for a national school program focused on tackling girl-against-girl bullying. Since its inception, The Kind Campaign has hosted assemblies in hundreds of schools and continues to spread awareness and kindness across the country.

Photo Courtesy of Kind Campaign

Both Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul opened up to A Plus about their personal experiences with bullying growing up, and how that led to the creation of Kind Campaign. "Having both had our own personal experiences with girl-against-girl bullying, we started Kind Campaign really wanting to reverse this behavior among girls. By focusing specifically on females, we're able to delve deep into the experiences young women have with bullying, have open and honest conversations, and create real change," said Thompson. "We witness such beautiful moments during our programs. We watch girls apologize to each other, share kind words with strangers, and realize their value and worth. It's so beautiful to be able to watch girls choose kindness and to be instilled with so much hope for this future generation. It's all about teaching girls that they are beautiful and perfect just the way they are and that being able to genuinely celebrate other females' accomplishments and beauty will only make their light shine brighter."

Lauren Paul added that, "Molly too had an experience with bullying from high school and felt immediately connected to the idea. The two of us decided then and there that we were going to dive in head first.  We had no idea what it would all turn into! Through our early experiences on the documentary, we looked at each other and realized we could build something bigger than just the film and that is when the idea for school assemblies and our movement came to be."

Angela Sutherland and Evelyn Rusli — Founders of YUMI

After Sutherland found out she was pregnant with her first child, she became obsessed with making sure her kids would be happy and healthy. A large part of that is the food they eat in their first 1000 days, from the time they are conceived until 2 years old.. Food during this stage can set the stage for the rest of their life and can play a part in their physical development and metabolic rates, among other things.

After being disappointed in most of the food that was overly processed with lots of added sugar that are made available and marketed to babies and children, Sutherland and Rusli set out to make their company Yumi, a better alternative. In Sutherland's own words, "I was shocked, and I wondered, how is it that in the 21st century, a time when I can get almost anything delivered in 60 minutes, that convenient, healthy baby food was still elusive?" Yumi is is fresh, organic, nutrient dense, and low in total sugar, and comes in 50 flavors. 

Photo Courtesy of YUMI

When it comes to being a female entrepreneur, Sutherland said, "Although running a company can often take time away from my family, I find comfort in knowing that I'm setting an example for my kids, especially my daughter. I want her to see that if you love what you do, you will be happier for it and more successful because of it. Because my mom was an entrepreneur, I learned from an early age that passion and persistence are powerful tools."  

Rusli then went onto say, "I have certainly been thrown off-guard by sexist comments and actions in the process of building this company. But I think those moments are also constructive reminders that, as female founders, we also have a responsibility to help other women. Angela and I regularly host dinners in LA with other female business leaders and we advise and invest in female-led companies. It takes a village."

Abigail and Antonia Opiah — Founders of Yeluchi by UN-RULY

Sister Abigail and Antonia Opiah founded the website UN-RULY and Yeluchi, the at-home styling service for women of color. UN-RULY was launched in 2013 and as their website says it "was created to celebrate and inspire the versatility and beauty of Black hair and women." Then, after seeing the need for convenient at-home styling services for women of color the sisters embarked on launching Yeluchi.


Photo Courtesy of Katie Ward / A Plus

"UN-RULY is a beauty platform we launched in 2013 that celebrates the beauty and versatility of Black hair and women. There, we talk about things like how to best care for your hair, we share style inspiration and give our take on products we think you should have on your bathroom shelf. We also use hair as an entry point to delve in a little deeper; beyond the surface stuff and explore things like culture, identity and anything else that's topical in our community at large," Abigail Opiah told A Plus. Being aware of the success of the ever-growing and popular platform the sisters set out to fill a gap in the beauty industry. The popular apps and websites like Glam Squad, Priv, and City Mani that bring styling services right to your home cater mostly to White women, so they created Yeluchi in 2016. And they have already seen the impact that inclusivity makes. "We have clients from all backgrounds that use Yeluchi for different reasons.  Whether its someone with limited mobility ... or a dad with a daughter with hard-to-manage hair, our clients really see the value of our service and we're just glad we get to make their lives easier in one small way" Abigail Opiah told A Plus. 

When asked about what it's like to start a business with your sister Opiah said, "when she's not getting on my nerves, working with my sister is a dream! It's like she's the Yin to my Yang. Given how demanding start-up life is, if I were doing this with anyone else, I'm not sure we'd be where we are today. My sister understands me in a way that not many people do and I think that makes for a great partnership."

Jordana Kier — Founder of LOLA

LOLA was founded after Jordana Kier, and her business partner Alex Friedman, asked themselves a question: What is in our tampons? And, with that, the idea for LOLA was formed, a line of organic feminine care products with a level of transparency that the big brands won't currently offer.

Photo Courtesy of Katie Ward / A Plus

"As we started researching, we realized that many brands – including the same ones we were loyal to all those years – aren't required to disclose exactly what ingredients are in their products. If we care about everything else we put in our bodies, our feminine care products shouldn't be any different. So we set out to create a brand that offered women the transparency they deserve," Kier told A Plus. "LOLA is all about transparency. By listing all of the ingredients in our products and continuing to encourage conversations around reproductive health, we are equipping women with all of the information they need to make conscious decisions on behalf of their bodies."

Realizing that having safe feminine care products is an issue for all women, Kier has also made an effort to provide access to those who need it the most. "We also look to drive access to feminine care products, as many communities lack these basic necessities that most of us take for granted every month. These products are among the most requested items in homeless shelters, and yet the least often donated. Through our program LOLA Gives Back, we want to ensure that women never have to pick between essentials for their body and essentials for their family. Periods are a fact of life for women, and it's our mission to ensure that more women and girls have access to the products that they need."

Kristina Marino — Marketing Director of Kombrewcha

Kombrewcha, the first-ever hard kombucha company, was founded in 2015 with the idea that you shouldn't have to compromise your health in order to go out and have fun. Kombrewcha is aiming to be the go-to drink for those with an active lifestyle. 

Photo Courtesy of Katie Ward / A Plus

Kristina Marino was employee number four at Kombrewcha and has had a large hand in shaping the company into what it has become today. "So, our whole go-to mantra internally is to 'socialize without the compromise'... that there has been a lack of recreational beverages that empower you to go out and catch up with family, catch up with friends, go to those networking events and client dinners," Marino told A Plus. She continued to explain why Kombrewcha is such a great alternative. "We developed this beverage for that woman in mind. Ones who live really active social livesm as well as professional lives, and need something where they can go out and socialize but they don't have to compromise the next day."

The company also puts a large emphasis on giving back, especially for Women's History Month. "We're actually in the process of launching a campaign for International Women's Day, where we've partnered with all female-owned and operated restaurants and bars. And for every Kombrewcha Royal Ginger sold during the month of March, we're going to donate one dollar to Catalyst which is the official charity partner of International Women's Day," Marino told A Plus.

Molly Hayward and Morgen Newman — Founders of Cora

Cora is another incredible all-organic female sanitary product company. It was founded in 2016 by Molly Hayward and Morgen Newman with the aim to not only get rid of the stigma of period products, but to also provide access to the women and girls all over the world who need it most. So for every month's supply of products you buy, they donate a month's supply of pads and health education to another woman in need.

Photo Courtesy of Cora

"Several years ago I was working for a nonprofit in Africa and met a young girl named Purity who told me that she and the other girls would stay home from school each month because they couldn't afford to buy menstrual pads. It opened my eyes to the massive international problem of period poverty — millions of girls lack access to the period care they need and resort to using old rags, newspapers, animal dung and tree bark — all of which can cause infections and reproductive health problems," Hayward told A Plus. So she started Cora with the aim to provide safe, organic, and trustworthy sanitary products to women all over the world, and to empower them to finish their education and to be healthy while they do it.

On top of that, Hayward wanted to provide an alternative to American women looking for a healthier product that can be delivered right to their door every month. "Additionally, we wanted to provide women with a modern method for managing their periods. We wanted to be a catalyst for social change in a scalable way that allowed women to buy socially conscious and healthy feminine products ... Cora was created to represent the smart, modern, conscious woman of today, which is why Cora's tampons are made without pesticides, synthetics, chlorine bleach, fragrances or BPA," said Hayward.

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