At Story Exchange, inspiring women are our business. And business is booming.
We’ve shared—even analyzed—countless stories of female entrepreneurs who’ve launched amazing and thriving careers, overcome personal and professional challenges, and helped others with their products and services.
In the process of sharing these startup stories, some resonated with our employees in long-term ways. So in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re sharing past profiles of inspiring female entrepreneurs whose mission and achievements have stayed with us.
[Related: Why Women Need Role Models]
1. Judy Henderson
founder, Mannequin madness
Henderson inspires admiration for having a “go” for such an innovative business idea. Who thought of starting a business selling used mannequins? This former corporate sales executive has worked, and is now making hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. She is proof that the market is open to many options that many have never considered. When we caught up with her last summer, she told us she was breaking the mold by renting out her warehouse space to creatives.
2. Alison Chung
This “digital detective” brings new meaning to the phrase “detail-oriented.” Chung’s Computer Forensics Agency Since opening its doors in 1997, it has been a game changer in fraud, theft and corruption investigations. Anytime you write something online, she finds it! And such attention, diligence and intelligence will definitely inspire us.
Help native women heal
Listen to our podcast episode for more of our interview with Noreen Hill.
3. Noreen Hill
founder, Mother country
Hill is one of the most memorable women we’ve ever featured. We found Oneida and her Native story and her journey of working through intergenerational trauma to be fascinating and insightful. Her mission to use what she has learned – and her emphasis on traditional healing methods to help other Indigenous women – resonates deeply with us.
4. Becky O’Neill
founder, Becky’s pet care
If you’re a dog lover, walking through an endless parade sounds like an especially sweet dream. For O’Neill, it’s a thriving brand that not only walks millions of puppies but also earns millions of dollars. We love her compassion for animals as much as we love her successful business model.
5. Pam Brown
founder, Marrone Bio Innovations
Marron’s business benefits the environment – all insect repellents are natural. But for us, the biggest point of her story is the value of perseverance and hard work. A year after she went public, her business manager was sued for fraud and her business collapsed. Such adversity could easily have crushed the ambitions of a business owner, but Marron was able to get her efforts back on track and thrive.
6. Delia Viader
founder, Viader winery
A master class in Vieder’s history is overcoming bad luck. All her wine vessels fell to the ground and burned, but instead of collapsing, she moved quickly and cleverly to meet the situation and climbed forward. Her story is truly one of perseverance. (We, too, are big fans of anyone who brings quality wine to the world.)
7. Angela King
Co-Founder, Life after hate
King, a former member of a hate group, rebuilds her life with a new and loving purpose after being jailed for her involvement in an anti-Semitic crime. Her charity helps others find paths to redemption away from these groups by exploring what attracts people to them in the first place. What is needed, says King, is “compassion and kindness, but also a commitment to ensuring that people’s human rights and civil rights are respected.”
8. Cheryl Dorsey
Dorsey takes an informed approach to sharing the stories and struggles of black creators in her online publication. The Charlotte, North Carolina, entrepreneur wanted to launch a new website specifically for “an audience of creative people who don’t want to see themselves as serious business owners in this space.” She adds that the tech industry is an extremely uneven playing field, and she sees intentional inclusion efforts and data-driven reporting as part of the solution.
[Related: How to Stay Inspired When You Really Need a Boost]
Women helping women
9. Amy Hagstrom Miller
founder, Whole woman health
Miller is a shining example of a woman who fought for a cause she believed in and gave up on tapping into her inner strength: women’s reproductive health. After losing her Austin, Texas — epicenter for the Christian anti-abortion crisis, no less — Miller simply pressed forward and found a new place. “I am driven by this question of human rights and justice,” she says.
10. Molly Hayward
Fact: Girls around the world miss several days of school every month during their periods, because they can’t afford sanitary pads. Hayward is doing something about it — she’s launched a subscription service specifically for organic sanitary products and donated proceeds to buy pads and tampons for growing girls. We love that her company shines a light on an issue that not only targets women, but girls worldwide.
11. Anita Saville and Cathy Br
Co-Founders, Budget friends
Women need to take control of their money – but we’ve discussed at length why so many struggle to do so. Saville and Brough plan to help a particularly disenfranchised group overcome these challenges: homeless women. The founders’ financial education workshops and training sessions are helping these women become self-reliant, so they can escape poverty – and gain confidence in the process. Both players have retired.
[Related: Who Women Entrepreneurs See When They Look Up]
Saving people and the planet
12. Christy Allen
founder, Biz Kniz
Allen’s business reflects her principles – she lives and works sustainably. Beekeeping isn’t exactly a major money maker, but she’s got multiple income streams under one roof, which shows her dedication to the cause and entrepreneurial creativity. The nature of her work makes her an important part of the community around her, but it also brings more benefits.
13. Yves-Car Momperousse
founder, Creole essence
In the year In 2010, the island nation of Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake. Momperousse, who is Haitian-American, has been involved in this – first as a volunteer on relief aid, then as a business owner providing jobs to farmers and workers. To this day, she finds reliable and consistent economic opportunities by sourcing organic black castor oil, the key to her business, from contractors in Haiti.
Reuse and recycling
Listen to our podcast episode for more of our interviews with Lynne Julian and Ann Sinner.
14. Women fighting the earth’s plastic problems
of Founders of In packaged goods And My sister’s closet
Lynn Julian, Chance Claxton and the Sinner sisters (Anne and Jenny) are four more founders trying to make an environmental impact with their companies. Plastic is a scourge – not only is it littering the oceans, but tiny pieces of it are getting into the things we eat, drink and breathe. Julian and Claxton wanted to do their part to reduce single-use plastic products for school children, while Sinners tried to keep fast fashion out of landfills. Both solutions are smart, strategic, and make money for their founders. (Since publication, Lynne Julian Yu has left The Conservator, and Jenny Sinner has left My Sister’s Closet.)
15. Meena Sankaran
Sankaran’s firm is a water analysis startup that aims to detect toxins and leaks in water supplies. Growing up in India, clean water was always on her mind. “My mother boils the water three times. [a day] for cooking and drinking four times a day,” she says. Her goal is to provide real-time information on water use and safety and prevent water crises like the one in Flint, Michigan.
16. Jessica Schreiber
Schreiber is fascinated by trash. And there’s plenty in New York City, where you’ll be running this fashion recycling startup. Her non-profit generally provides businesses to pick up and sell textile products in the city’s internationally renowned fashion industry. As commercial waste, the debris is not eligible for the city’s residential recycling programs, and usually, it ends up in landfills.
17. Joan Melendez
Founder, Xcelrate UDI
It’s no secret that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been chaotic, with no universal method for registering or administering vaccines, and insufficient doses as the world races against the clock – and more contagious strains of the virus. . That’s why Melendez created an app that tracks vaccine orders — from the time they’re shipped to how long a dose has been in the refrigerator, valuable information about its viability. “We don’t want to throw vaccines out, we want to be able to use them,” Melendez said
[Related: A Dose of Inspiration from Michelle Obama]
(Note: This post has been updated since publication to correct outdated information and include additional entrepreneurs.)