March is Women’s History Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day. March is a month to celebrate women’s power and contributions to society and the history and progress of the women’s rights movement. Today, women lead countries and are at the forefront of human rights campaigns worldwide. They are also starting more businesses than ever before, offering products and services that fill gaps in many industries and make life easier and more enjoyable.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we wanted to share with our readers some notable female founders who have all made a substantial impact on their individual fields as well as the world at large. In fact, some of our favorite female-founded brands are men’s brands. These leaders are visionaries, creatives, entrepreneurs and influential businesswomen.
Keep reading to discover some of our favorite female-founded men’s brands and many other brands founded by women.
Founder: Aishwarya Iyer
Like many great companies, Brightland was founded after identifying a gap in the market. For founder Aishwarya Iyer, that gap was healthy and delicious olive oil. Iyer was inspired to create Brightland after regularly getting sick from the olive oil she used for cooking. In 2018, Iyer founded Brightland in California to make local, nutrient-rich extra virgin olive oil that also tasted great.
The overwhelmingly positive response to Brightland’s high-quality olive oil helped lead to an expansion that now includes honey and balsamic vinegar. Sold in over 300 stores across the U.S., Brightland is on its way to becoming a household name in the food industry. The company’s hugely popular The Duo, which includes their Awake and Alive blends, made our list of the top olive oils to buy now.
Co-Founder: Hannah Mendoza
If you or someone you know wants to drink like Oprah Winfrey and Meghan Markle, it’s time to order one of the delicious latte powders from Clevr Blends. Co-founded by Hannah Mendoza and Roger Coppola, the at-home latte company uses organic, non-GMO, and ethically sourced ingredients to make its SuperLattes. This powder allows customers to make healthy lattes on par with their local baristas by simply adding water. The company counts Markle as an investor and, in 2021, made the coveted Oprah’s Favorite Things list.
Finding the perfect latte for your needs is easy with Clevr Blends, which lists the benefits of each blend and directs customers on how to get the most flavor out of their mix. Try the Match SuperLatte, which has an earthy and smooth finish thanks to its blend of matcha, ashwagandha, lion’s mane and reishi. Some studies suggest that these ingredients can help reduce stress and anxiety while potentially boosting mood and immunity.
OUI The People
Founder: Karen Young
Karen Young founded OUI The People to give women an intelligently designed razor explicitly designed for them. The former Estée Lauder executive used her years in the beauty business to develop a razor that filled a hole in the market while also creating a company that aimed to uplift women rather than tear them down with terms such as “anti-aging” and “flawless.”
Since launching in 2015, Young’s company has expanded to include a broad lineup of award-winning body products. The Single, a beautiful metal razor designed to combat ingrown hairs and razor burn while still providing a gentle shave that won’t aggravate sensitive skin, remains a huge seller.
Oars + Alps
Founders: Mia Duchnowski and Laura Cox
Like many great businesses, Oars + Alps was born out of necessity. In the case of Mia Duchnowski and Laura Cox, that necessity wasn’t for them but their husbands. Both were married to adventurous guys who found it difficult to find quality skincare that wasn’t expensive, bursting at the seams with chemicals or designed for women. The rest, well, is women’s history.
These days, Oars + Alps has expanded its offerings from just a few items to a vast array of skincare products ranging from bar soap and body wash to face washes and deodorants. For us, it’s all about Oars + Alps’ Originals Kit. For just over $50, you get a moisturizer, a facial cleansing stick and a high-quality deodorant. And for those who love the outdoors and that adventurous lifestyle, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better bundle for braving the elements.
REVIEW: Oars + Alps Natural Grooming Products
Founder: Ariel Kaye
Ariel Kaye, Founder and CEO of Parachute, was tired of mediocre bedding products, so she decided to create her own in 2014. With a background in advertising and brand management, Kaye saw an opening in the market and dove in. Parachute is her creation, and we’re thankful for it.
While Parachute has plenty of impressive offerings on their site, it’s their bedding bundles that always seem to do us in. But exercise caution when purchasing these sets; these are some of the softest sheets you’ll come across on the internet. You may find it’s never been harder to get out of bed once these sheets, blankets and pillowcases are on your bed. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
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Co-Founder: Elisabeth Vezzani
What’s sweeter than receiving a box of treats? Getting to pick exactly which treats you want. Sugarwish makes it easy for customers to send gifts that people want to get, from sugary to salty and, yes, even alcohol. Co-founded by Elisabeth Vezzani, the company even makes it easy to customize a gift box for dogs.
Vezzani talked to SPY about expanding her company beyond exciting people’s taste buds to include a substantial charitable element. “One of our most impactful marketing decisions for 2021 was partnering with Make-A-Wish Foundation. We were able to create a strategic partnership that aligned perfectly with our core brand values,” said Vezzani. “Make-A-Wish is a dream partner for us as their cause perfectly aligns with what we do every day — paying it forward with kindness and now hope.”
Founder: Katrina Lake
Like Mark Zuckerberg before her, Katrina Lake started Stitch Fix while still in college and grew the startup into a hugely successful global brand. In fact, she shipped the brand’s first order out of her Cambridge apartment. The idea behind the business is to bring personal styling to the world thanks to great taste, some fantastic stylists and a ton of clever algorithms.
All you have to do is hop on their site and take their quiz to get your fix. Stich Fix will run you through a handful of quick survey questions to determine your taste and budget. From there, they’ll send you regular shipments of men’s apparel tailored to your preferences. You only pay for what you keep and return the rest using a prepaid return label. And with each subsequent shipment, the stylists and algorithms get a better and better idea of what you like.
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Founder: Staci Wanichek
If you’re a red wine drinker, then you’ve likely encountered the double edge sword of your preferred beverage — it tastes great going down, but it’s almost impossible to get out of clothes and fabric if it spills. Almost. In 1997, Staci Wanichek started Wine Away with her mother and spent years traveling to wineries to prove to company owners and customers that she had the best product on the market. Now 25 years later, Wine Away is sold all over the U.S. and 17 other countries.
“My advice for other women looking to start their own business would be to do the research about the market you want to get into and don’t be afraid to ask others for help and guidance; I learned so much by asking questions,” Wanichek told SPY. “You also have to passionately believe in your product and be willing to put in the time to get it going. ‘No’ just means you have to find another way to get to yes!”
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Founder: Denise Woodward
Founder and CEO Denise Woodard was inspired to start Partake after her daughter was diagnosed with several food allergies. Struggling to find safe foods, Woodard decided to make her own line of mixes free from common allergens such as peanuts, eggs, dairy, soy, sesame, and tree nuts, while still offering customers a delicious end product that was easy to prepare. “[In the early days of Partake Foods], I was given the advice to ‘Just get started.’ Over time, by listening to our customers, I would get the feedback I needed to iterate and create a product that people wanted and loved,” Woodward told SPY.
Partake caught the attention of Rihanna and Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners, who invested in the food company. Not only did Woodward use Partake, which creates allergy-free pancake and waffle mixes, baking mixes, and cookies to fill a gap in the market, she’s also committed to helping lift up other future business owners. “As a Black and Asian American woman, I am committed to raising awareness of Black and female entrepreneurship and increasing opportunities for underrepresented people seeking careers in the food and beverage industry,” said Woodward. “In 2020, I founded Black Futures in Food & Beverage, an annual fellowship program that mentors HBCU students and helps them secure internships and jobs at the program’s end.”
Founder: Charlotte Chen Pienaar
Proving you can have fun with skincare, Everyday Humans founder Charlotte Chen Pienaar has created a line dedicated to protecting her customer’s skin and making them smile at the same time. The plastic neutral, plant-powered company sells skincare with a twist, including sunscreen that moisturizes, hand sanitizer that cleans hard surfaces, a pre- and post-sun water spray, with more on the way. Add in high-quality ingredients, bright packaging, and eye-catching product names like Resting Beach Face, and it’s no wonder that Everyday Humans has created a legion of followers (we highly recommend the Oh My Bod! Sunscreen).
“Our vibe is about breaking rules and embracing change. That’s why we do not follow typical beauty branding playbooks and rules,” Chen Pienaar told SPY. “I’m excited to see how it continues to evolve as we grow. We also stand by causes we believe in, like inclusivity and sustainability, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously (or else we won’t name our products Resting Beach Face!). I think there’s something nice about the contradiction.”
RELATED: The Best Sunscreens Right Now
Co-Founder: Jacq Tatelman
STATE Bags was founded with two purposes — creating high-quality, fashionable luggage and supporting charities and organizations making a positive impact in the U.S. Along with her husband Scot, Jacq Tatelman started STATE Bags with a one for one model, donating a bag to a child in need for every bag purchased. The company has since expanded its charitable endeavors, retiring the one for one model and increasing its impact on charities like Time’s Up and Seeds of Peace while still participating in several annual events that include providing bags filled with school supplies to children in need.
A company that has proven time and again that fashion, function and charity can thrive together, Tatelman told SPY that STATE has continued to grow even amid the pandemic thanks in large part to planning. “I kept my eye on the supply chain issues and found a way to front-load inventory so we could be in stock all year,” said Tatelman. “It’s crucial to advance the business not only for top-line revenue but also to have the data.”
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Ayla & Co.
Founder: Nikki Day
Ayla & Co. was founded by Nikki Day to create a parenting product line that was both chic and functional. The brand offers several fashion-forward vegan leather diaper bags, including gender-neutral designs, that offer all the pockets and storage parents need without sacrificing style.
Day started Ayla & Co. in 2020 and quickly saw the harsh reality of building a business during a pandemic. While the past three years have resulted in a disproportionate population of women being pushed out of the workforce, Day told SPY that she has seen many women use this period to create a business and job model that works for them and their families.
“Women have been fighting back against lost jobs by creating their own. According to the most recent census, women were two times more likely to start a business than men, and over 4.4 million businesses were created in the U.S. during 2020 alone,” Day explained. “This is the highest on record to date. It’s never been easier to get your product or service out there to the world. Marketing, word of mouth, social media, and the resources available to you on how to be successful are all at the tips of your fingertips.”
Founder: Maranda Thompson
Holding babies with love is the ethos of LoveHeld. This company specializes in beautiful and high-quality ring sling baby carriers, as well as sheets, blankets, stuffies, bags and more. The broad selection of items uses super soft Oeko-Tex certified European linen and other natural eco-friendly fibers. Maranda Thompson, a mom of five, founded LoveHeld, proving the saying, “if you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person.”
Finding time to grow her business while homeschooling her children is no small feat. Thompson told SPY that perseverance is one of the most important facets of building a brand. “There are going to be days along this journey where expectations are lost, things get put to the side, and that is completely okay,” said Thompson. “As mothers, leaders of our workplaces and homes, business owners, and entrepreneurs, we juggle many different things, and we do it often all at the same time. Supporting each other and uplifting one another is key! One important thing that I would share with someone starting their business today is to stay true to yourself, believe in yourself and don’t give up.”
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Founder: Cali Meyrignac
Cali’s Books make storytime fun and interactive for kids and parents. The company has a vast library of titles that incorporate reading and music. Founder Cali Meyrignac was inspired to start the company by the musical books she grew up reading and listening to in her home country of France. She created English-language versions with easy-to-use sound buttons that babies and kids love.
The family-run business is based in Los Angeles and stemmed from Meyrignac’s desire to make lemonade out of lemons. Meyrignac worked as a V.P. in an international bank when she had her second child and was subsequently terminated from her position. “I was told that a mother of two cannot be good at the fast-paced job,” Meyrignac told SPY. “Although I was devastated and heartbroken, I decided to be courageous and set an example for my children — I decided to file a claim against my employer for pregnancy discrimination. After months of legal battle, my employer finally settled. Instead of giving up, I fought back, and I used this seed money to turn what was once my hobby into a business.”
Founder: Sarah Moret
One of the biggest challenges facing businesses is getting their product in front of potential customers. Curie founder Sarah Moret knew that entering the highly competitive skincare industry wouldn’t be easy, even with the company’s high-quality product (we at SPY are obsessed with Curie’s moisturizing hand sanitizers). Moret combined old and new media marketing to set her company apart and saw positive results.
“Going all-in on live video commerce through QVC and Tiktok made the biggest impact on Curie in 2021,” Moret told SPY. “Most female founders have a story to tell, and having the courage to share that story live through these platforms is a way to differentiate yourself from your competition.”
REVIEWED: Humble Natural Deodorant
Founder: Rosie Johnston
By/Rosie Jane founder Rosie Johnston wanted a responsibly made fragrance that delivered clean, refreshing scents that didn’t come with a huge price tag. That’s what she’s achieved with her fragrance line made in California. All By/Rosie Jane scents are made without phthalates, parabens, or endocrine disruptors, are vegan and cruelty-free, and are easy on the environment thanks to vegetable inks, sustainable paper, 100% recyclable packaging, and no single-use plastics. Plus, they smell great.
Johnston told SPY she was inspired to create a line that reflected all the parts of her life. “I’m a mom, I’m a teacher, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a homemaker. It’s not always pretty and perfect. Accepting that and letting it guide and influence the products I create has had a huge impact on my brand. It’s the most authentic I have ever been, and it shows in our marketing and product development.”
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Founder: Jami Changris
HomeDough founder Jami Changris was a busy mom of five who found that making large batches of cookie dough and freezing them made it easier to have fresh, homemade cookies ready to go whenever she needed a snack for a sports game, class party, or other child-friendly events. Thus, HomeDough was born, giving customers delicious frozen cookie dough ready to go directly from the freezer to the oven and eat in minutes. SPY received a sample of HomeDough’s three flavors, and honestly, we can’t come up with a good reason to ever go back to making cookies from scratch ourselves. HomeDough FTW.
Changris spoke to SPY about what’s important to her when deciding which women-founded businesses to support. “Upon reflection, I support businesses that have a captivating mission which fulfills an urgent need within society, and most importantly see the dedication of the brand to have consumers get involved to create change successfully,” said Changris.
Founders: Malissa Cozier, Sulare Rose, Marissa Alert
CoziRose was created to give customers with pierced and non-pierced ears beautiful pieces of jewelry that would inspire them to “live boldly and authentically.” Not only does the business create stunning earrings that anyone can wear, but founders Malissa Cozier, Sulare Rose, and Marissa Alert are also focused on helping future generations. They donate 3% of their profits to Sister Mentors, which aids young women of color leaders.
“As a woman entrepreneur, it is essential to remember that owning a business requires taking risks, having patience, and not letting failure determine where you will land,” Cozier told SPY. “The best thing about supporting women-owned businesses is being able to network and form a community where we not only support each other but create jobs for younger women looking to work as leaders.”
Founders: Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis
Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis founded Great Jones in 2018 after struggling to find cookware that made them feel confident enough to try any recipe. Tishgart was a food writer and editor at New York magazine before starting the company and was motivated by a desire to own cookware that looked nice, lasted and worked well. Tishgart and Moelis both value making food yourself and even named the company after Judith Jones, the cookbook editor who published Julia Child’s first cookbook way back when.
We love their dutch oven, called “The Dutchess,” that’s enameled cast-iron and one of the most IG-worthy pieces of cookware we have ever seen. The enamel finish makes it easy to clean and deglaze during cooking, and we all know how well cast iron handles heat. If you’ve got a few extra bucks to spend on a piece of cookware that’ll live on your stove and look like it belongs there, this is what to spend it on.
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Founders: Steph Korey and Jen Rubio
Away is a modern luggage brand designed to make the world even easier to navigate with high-quality luggage products. They offer everything from leather tote bags to their signature hard-shell suitcases with optional batteries for on-the-go power sources.
Away’s co-founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio were colleagues on Warby Parker’s early executive team. Passionate about travel, the duo launched the company in 2015. After nearly half a decade of success, the company has reached a total valuation of $1.4 billion and has more than 150 employees.
This luggage brand is all about giving you everything you need and nothing you don’t. They’ve done just that with their simple, elegant luggage set and carry-on suitcases. The carry-on is the product that started it all for them, and it’s easy to tell why they’ve found such success.
The Away carry-on fits in the overhead bins of all major airlines. It’s also lightweight, easy to maneuver, and includes the option to add a TSA-approved battery so you can charge your devices wherever you roam. It comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, plus you have the option to buy it without the battery if you prefer.
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Founder: Kathrin Hamm
Bearaby’s founder, Kathrin Hamm, slept for a few hours under a weighted blanket and was instantly sold. She decided to set out on a mission to rid the world of plastic, synthetic weighted blankets that were bad for us and the environment. Bearaby makes weighted blankets out of high-quality, sustainable materials so you can fall asleep without guilt.
One of their most popular blankets, the Cotton Napper, is a knitted weighted blanket made from GOTS-certified organic cotton. It’s super soft, breathable and comes in a selection of different cozy colors. You can choose between 15, 20, or 25 pounds for the weight, and it will help keep you comfortable and temperature-regulated in all seasons.
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Founder: Rachel Garrett
Many consumers want to support ethical brands, but finding high-quality pieces at an affordable price can be difficult. Rachel Garrett created Edify to take the legwork out of ethical shopping by giving consumers a curated, one-stop shop for functional fashion. During her years spent working as a fashion buyer, Garrett saw firsthand the damaging environmental impact of fast fashion. Rather than ignore the issue for profit, Garrett left her position at a mass-market retailer and started Edify to work with designers and artists who were also committed to improving environmental conditions around fashion and conditions for garment workers.
“After launching your business, it is so easy to get comfortable with working behind the scenes and letting your company speak for the brand,” Garrett told SPY, adding that she decided to make a change in 2021 that better reflected the ethos of Edify. Garrett began sharing her story and inspiration for creating Edify on social media and quickly saw an increase in sales. “I think any brand can benefit from having a founder identity and personal touch, but it is especially crucial for purpose-driven companies like Edify.”
The Worthington Collection
Founder: Sarah Clifford Owen
Sarah Clifford Owen wanted a candle that would not only smell great but actually help eliminate unpleasant odors, so she founded The Worthington Collection, a luxury candle company with a product that cleans the air and leaves it smelling amazing. Clifford Owen created a product free from toxins and has a clean burn, giving customers a candle that looks and smells fantastic and is safe for everyone in their home. Plus, the handmade candles don’t leave users with headaches from an artificial scent.
Clifford Owen spoke to SPY about the importance of supporting women-founded businesses. “While there has been some progress toward creating an equal playing field for women, we still have a far way to go,” said Clifford Owen. “Women do not have the same advantages and resources when it comes to founding their own businesses, and studies have shown that we receive significantly less financial backing than men. Because of this, I make certain that my spending as a consumer aligns with my values by seeking out and supporting other women-owned businesses.”
COMME des GARÇONS
Founder: Rei Kawakubo
Starting as a stylist after graduating college in 1967, Rei Kawakubo tried her hand at designing her own clothing. Now a menswear staple, COMME des GARÇONS (which translates literally to “like some boys”), actually started as a women’s clothing brand. Nine years after formally creating her business, though, Kawakubo added a men’s collection and has helped define men’s fashion ever since.
Among her many popular silhouettes and styles (of which there are far too many to count), our favorite at the moment is the often-imitated Stripe Slim Fit Long Sleeve T-shirt. It’s simple yet stylish, and it will always get nods of appreciation from the fashion-conscious, thanks to that oh-so-subtle CdG branding.
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Co-Founder: Eunice Byun
Started by Eunice Byun and David Nguyen, Material was a response to the lack of affordable, beautiful and functional kitchenware in the market. Sure, you can buy top-of-the-line stuff, they argued, but why spend that much if you’re not a top-of-the-line chef? Likewise, why did everything affordable have to look so, well, affordable?
With their combined efforts, Material was born. They sell sleek and elegant kitchenware products designed for the everyday cook. Whether you’re a parent, a busy bachelor, or even a professional chef, you’ll come to love and appreciate the elegance and precision of Material’s kitchen tools.
And while we can (and do) drool over every option and set available on Material’s site, it’s their Fundamental’s set we felt we had to share. The set comes with seven different pieces of kitchenware, ranging from knives and tongs to spoons and spatulas. If you were to move to a new home or apartment and could only bring one set of kitchen tools with you, this is the set you’d want.
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Co-Founder: Carly Strife
Founded in 2012 through the combined efforts of dog enthusiasts Matt Meeker, Carly Strife, and Henrik Werdelin, BarkBox is a monthly canine subscription box filled with themed all-natural treats, toys and other goodies for your pup. All three founders came together with a passion for dogs and a desire to fill the product discovery gap that they saw in the pet retail market.
Carly Strife is a co-founder of the brand, which has served over two million dogs, supporting a network of pet owners looking for convenience and personalization for their furry friends, and is leading the company’s newest venture, BARK Eats. With BarkBox, you choose your dog’s size and subscribe for $22 per month. Each month after that, you receive a box with two unique, high-quality toys, a bag of all-natural treats and a specialty chew to match that month’s theme.
Co-Founder: Jill Li
Every parent wants to raise their child in a loving and supporting environment, but having the right tools to meet your child’s needs can be difficult. Reading every book on parenting, attending multiple workshops, and meeting with child psychologists is frankly unrealistic for any parent, which is why Jill Li co-founded Parent Lab. Along with her partners, including several child specialists, Li helped build Parent Lab, an app that guides parents on dealing with everything from tantrums to ending mealtime battles.
The pandemic caused new challenges for parents who suddenly found themselves without childcare and support, making an app like Parent Lab even more necessary. “Whether people like to admit it or not, the past two years were a difficult time for everyone,” Li told SPY. “Overwhelming uncertainty, the inability to take control of what was happening, and the overarching unknown consequences that were unfolding around us. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, confront and face all of the above is an opportunity for us at Parent Lab to deeply connect to our parent users. Their vulnerability and honest feedback regarding their true experiences drive us to continue to iterate and improve our services. I personally believe that when we authentically deliver these values, our business, passion and creativity naturally thrive.”
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Founder: Chelsea Allison
After having her first child, Motherfigure founder Chelsea Allison saw firsthand the vast discrepancies in the U.S. between the demands of motherhood and support provided to new moms. Using her experience and the experiences of other moms, she founded Motherfigure, a multi-faceted organization designed to help moms with everything from maternity wear to finding a healthcare provider in their area.
Launching in 2019, Allison was dealt the same double blow as many other parents and business owners when the pandemic hit. “2021 was a really challenging year for parents. It was also a really challenging time for small businesses,” Allison told SPY. “It’s tempting in a startup to be constantly on the gas for growth, but in the midst of a pandemic and the parent to two small children, that just wasn’t to be. The biggest decision we made at Motherfigure was at first a wrenching one — we decided to pull back from social advertising channels to instead focus on building our own channel through our content and community. It’s ended up being a huge silver lining, helping bring into clearer view how to realize our mission to support the parenthood journey while buoying our growth.”
Founder: Larissa Pickens
Using inspiration from her travels, Fernweh Editions founder Larissa Pickens set out to create a line of candles that would remind people of their favorite places. The company sells beautiful, hand-poured candles made with a soy coconut wax blend for a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable burn. Made in the U.S., the candles are free from toxins and filled with scents that keep customers coming back.
When it comes to starting a business, Pickens’ advice is to stop waiting for the perfect time. “We talk about ignoring negative people, but as women, we’re often our own harshest critic. Starting a business is daunting, and it’s easy to think of all the millions of ways it won’t work, or you’re not quite ready,” Pickens told SPY. “Running a business will always be messy and painful and beautiful. Don’t talk yourself out of your full potential.”
Founder: Rachel Peters and Her Teen Daughter, Cana
Understanding your identity and place in the world can be especially difficult during your teen years, which is why Rachel Peters and her daughter Cana decided to start a skincare company that spoke to all young people. Clean Age sells cruelty-free products with clean ingredients. Packaged in sustainable materials, all the products sold by Clean Age are gender-neutral, making it easy for everyone to find a product that works for them.
“The best businesses solve a real problem for consumers,” Peters told SPY. “I believe this is the magic of businesses owned by women — we are natural problem solvers, so when we build a business, we create valuable solutions.”
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Founder: Ramona Ferreyra
Ojala Threads proves that it’s never too early to learn about one’s heritage. The woman-, disabled- and indigenous-owned brand was founded in 2018 by Ramona Ferreyra as a non-profit that creates onesies that look cute and teach babies about their heritage.
Speaking to SPY, Ferreyra told us that she founded Ojala Threads to fill a gap in the market that didn’t recognize indigenous heritages. “Through unique items, and reimagined contemporary pieces, I focus on telling our history authentically,” said Ferreyra. “We partner with artisans in the Dominican Republic to provide fair trade pieces. Our sales support advocacy work focused on transportation, criminal justice reform and housing. I would tell anyone interested in starting their own business that it is important to max out your local resources.”