Despite the studies that show businesses with a heavier female presence are more profitable, and women are better at management, only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. This inequality is mainly caused by biases still held against female entrepreneurs today, especially in the startup ecosystem.
Research shows that investors favor male entrepreneurs even when the same pitch is presented with identical slides and scripts. Considering that starting a business is hard enough — with estimates of around 90% of startups failing at some point — female entrepreneurs deserve to be recognized and celebrated for their well-earned presence in the business world.
And ecommerce is a wonderful medium that provides opportunities for female entrepreneurs to overcome some of the challenges imposed by societies around the world and realize their unique business ideas. So in this article, we’re highlighting some of the most inspirational women in ecommerce across the globe to support them in their notable achievements and encourage others to start their journey.
Cassie Abel — Wild Rye
Did you know that women are 73% more likely to be injured in vehicle crashes, and most dummies used in crash tests are designed to represent the average man? Women face the negative consequences of a world designed for men every day, but entrepreneurs like Cassie Abel are here to change that.
Her company, Wild Rye, is committed to welcoming more women into the outdoors through performance apparel that fits, performs, and considers the female body. Various product categories are available to shop on their website, from the signature mountain bike pants to various accessories like hats, gloves, and face masks designed for women.
In addition to making high-quality outdoor clothing and equipment options available for women, Wild Rye is also helping to change an industry traditionally characterized by masculinity. The company is in a partnership with SheJumps to empower women to get outside, and their launch of Women-Led Wednesday aims to support women in business.
Tabea Oppliger — KitePride
Next on the list, we have Tabea Oppliger with her purposeful and sustainable ecommerce business Kitepride from Tel Aviv, Israel. Kitepride is creating unique handmade bags from up-cycled kites, sails, and parachutes while providing a second chance and safe rehabilitation employment for human trafficking survivors.
According to the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, 14,000 men, women, and minors are trapped in forced prostitution in Israel. Of those interviewed, 76% of people want to leave but feel trapped due to a lack of employability skills, finances, and education. To put an end to this obstacle, the founder Tabea Oppliger started her fashion social enterprise to provide safe rehabilitation employment for human trafficking victims.
Each item on this ecommerce store is made by someone who has exited prostitution thanks to KitePride’s safe working environment. But the social responsibility aspect of this company doesn’t stop there. Thanks to their innovative production model, each bag saves fabric from landfills and promotes a cleaner environment.
Alix Peabody — Bev
Alix Peabody started her female-focused beverage company, Bev, with a purpose: Changing the cultural landscape around women and drinking. The brand is known for its signature canned wine made by chicks — which is also the name of their community of entrepreneurs, creatives, & freelancers empowering women across industries in business and beyond.
Although canned wine is an unusual concept, the brand is quite successful in the US, and the product catalog is growing with new flavors and unique ingredients. Bev’s ecommerce store is also unlike any other with its vibrant colors, cute cat images, and quirky brand voice.
“Break the glass” is one of the taglines you can see on their website, which means something different to everyone, but at its core, it’s about breaking barriers down and building people up by promoting female empowerment.
Shontay Lundy — Black Girl Sunscreen
Shontay Lundy’s brand Black Girl Sunscreen came to light after a review by a Reddit user went viral in 2019, and later the brand raised $1 million in funding. The company’s mission is simple but often overlooked by the industry: to educate people of color about the importance of sun safety.
Traditionally, sunscreen has been tailored to light-skinned individuals, leaving a visible white residue on darker skin. Shontay Lundy created a 30 SPF lotion infused with natural ingredients with melanated skin in mind so that women of color can truly enjoy the sun. She expresses the brand’s mission as “Black does crack, and it’s in our power to protect it.”
In addition to their star product moisturizing sunscreen lotion, the product assortment includes a kid’s version, a matte formula as well as other product categories such as coffee mugs, joggers, and shirts. As can be expected from any socially conscious brand, their products are vegan, cruelty-free, and recyclable.
Nonna Nerina — Nonna Live
Lastly, we have 84-year-old Nonna Nerina from Rome, Italy. Before the pandemic struck their small village, Nonna was hosting cooking classes through Airbnb Experiences for tourists with her granddaughter Chiara. Later, one of those tourists, Brent Freeman, helped them pivot the classes to a live stream experience so their business could survive the lockdowns and the dry tourist season.
The classes are now taught over Google Hangouts and only with a few participants to keep the intimate format. Thanks to this new ecommerce website, Nonna is able to reach a global audience of customers, and she’s been featured on Today, Good Morning America, and Eating Well. In addition to the virtual classes, customers can also shop Nonna’s preferred cooking supplies and ingredients for a truly authentic Italian pasta.
Their business not only allows Nonna to make a living from her home at the age of 84 but also helps keep a significant Italian tradition alive. Her story is truly an inspirational one showing everyone that challenges can never stand in the way of a determined woman.
In a world that is yet to achieve gender equality, ecommerce creates opportunities for women everywhere to overcome societal challenges and make their dreams a reality. As a business working with many ecommerce owners, we believe the least we can do is support female entrepreneurs by acknowledging and celebrating them.
The ones we mentioned in this article have definitely left their mark with their creative business ideas and notable contributions to society. But they only represent a few among the many inspirational women in ecommerce and the ones that will pursue the same dream in the future.