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100 Powerful Women
Women know how to fight the good fight –and they won't back down until the job is done. Get to know 100 female-led businesses and brands that are creating change and redefining the rules of success.

Kendra Scott

Founder and CEO/ Kendra Scott

As she designed her first jewelry collection out of her home in 2002, Kendra Scott never dreamed it would become a $1 billion brand. But today, her eponymous company has a unicorn valuation, 100 stores, and shows no signs of slowing down—through Scott’s main focus is about more than baubles. Of the Austin-based brand’s 2,000 employees, more than 90 percent are women, many of whom are mothers. Nursing rooms are commonplace at HQ and distribution centers, Kendra Scott Kids provides a children’s playroom, and once a year Camp Kendra invites in employees’ kids for a day of activities, in which office employees become camp counselors. “If we can support our staff, these women, at this very special time in their lives, we’ll have an employee who is incredibly loyal to our brand,” says Scott. “We believe in their future.” In September, that support expanded beyond the walls of Scott’s company, when she announced the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in partnership with the University of Texas. The programming will feature speaker series and courses on everything from building a business to advocating for equal pay and will be available to University of Texas students. “We want women to be able to access this information,” Scott says.

Rachel Shechtman

Founder/ Story

Brand experience officer/ Macy’syears, Rachel Shechtman’s

FStory was the darling story of retail. Her never-ending rotation of themes in her New York store showed how fun brick-and-mortar could be. Then in 2018, she sold her brand to Macy’s and joined the giant as a brand experience officer. This April, Story popped up in 36 Macy’s stores nationwide as a themed shopping space that changes every two months. The first theme—color—was sponsored by Crayola and MAC cosmetics. But Shechtman’s work at Macy’s is just beginning. “I think of my team as a holding company,” Shechtman says. “Story was the first business in our portfolio, and now we’re developing new businesses outside the Macy’s ecosystem and launching them inside Macy’s. Our goal is to create businesses that can scale.”

Trish Costello

Founder and CEO/ Portfolia

Thirty percent of affluent men have invested in entrepreneurial companies; less than 1 percent of women have. That’s why, in 2014, Trish Costello launched Portfolio, a platform that aims to bring women into investing. Portfolio has since launched eight funds with up to 249 member investors (who can commit at least $10,000). Each is led by an expert team; videoconferences keep communication open within the far-flung network. Funds focus on a range of markets, from active aging to women’s health, and Portfolio currently has 14,000 more women waiting to join its network, eager to make their first investment when the right fund launches. Costello expects to have 100,000 women actively investing by 2022. “Data shows that men like to invest in novelty, and women like to invest where they’re experts,” Costello says. “And that’s what makes women great investors.”

THE BIG QUESTION ABOUT LEARNING

What did you know the least about when starting out, and how did you get up to speed?

“I’m naturally introverted. It’s hard to walk into a room of strangers, let alone a room of potential investors. For me, it was learning that the best way to build a network is by offering value first—asking how you can serve someone else before asking them for help in return. Gradually, I learned how to become more extroverted and started creating spaces for others to network based on this ethos.”

—LISA WANG | Former Olympic gymnast; founder and CEO, SheWorx, a global platform and event series that has helped more than 20,000 female entrepreneurs succeed

“I knew what kind of beauty company I wanted to build, but I knew nothing about operating one. On launch day, our team of 15 huddled around a laptop to watch the orders come in and then hopped in Ubers to deliver them in New York. I’ve had to learn—and relearn—what operations means at every stage of growth by talking to experts and listening to customers, and we’ve built robust teams to manage our supply chain and warehouse operations. It’s still a challenge.”

—EMILY WEISS | Founder and CEO, Glossier, a millennial beauty brand with a valuation of $1.2 billion

“During our seed fund-raise, we had to sell our idea to investors prior to launching and securing membership. Not having a proof of concept was very challenging. To get around that, we leaned on the market data we had collected related to women’s networks and managed a pilot peer group program. We launched in January, and by the time we went out for our Series A, we had thousands on the waitlist and closed at $22 million, the largest from female founders at that point in 2019.”

—CAROLYN CHILDERS | CEO and co-founder (right, with co-founder Lindsay Kaplan, left), Chief, a private network for C-suite women

“In college, when I realized there needed to be a technical apparel brand that made recreational activity synonymous with fun, I didn’t know where to start. So I turned to the internet to research the industry and found a trade show in Utah that my dad and I went to—and drove through a hailstorm for!—where I discovered a mill that would help me develop a material that felt like cotton without showing sweat. Making apparel isn’t rocket science, but there’s a lot that can go wrong.”

—TYLER HANEY | Founder and CEO, Outdoor Voices, an athletic lifestyle apparel brand

“Raising venture capital is the worst. When I first started, I went after investors I thought understood what I was building, who looked like me, and I got rejected by every single one of them. Emotionally beaten down, I stopped and just continued building the business. When I started back up, I flipped the type of investor profile I went after and targeted ones who cared about the value of my company—about the impact we were having on the media landscape. And when I did that, the conversation just flowed.”

—MORGAN DEBAUN | Founder and CEO, Blavity, a digital media company that reaches 30 million Black millennials a month

“I’ve always been obsessed with good ingredients and how they can make you look and feel better from the inside out. What I didn’t know when I started my wellness company was which ingredients would complement and activate one another. So I enlisted the help of my friend Amy Shah, who is an immunologist and double board-certified MD, along with scientists and top innovators in the field.”

—BOBBI BROWN | Founder, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; founder, Evolution_18, a wellness company with products now in Walmart

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October - November 2019