Switch to previous version of Magzter
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 ar creating change and redefining the rules of success.

Andrea and Robin McBride

Founders/ McBride Sisters Wine

Sometimes a founding story is so good, you just want to bottle it. And these sisters did. Andrea McBride (right) was 12 and living with her foster mom in New Zealand when the phone rang. “Hey, Andrea; it’s your dad,” a man said. He told her he had terminal stomach cancer and she had a big sister named Robin (left) on the opposite side of the world. Andrea set out to find her. It took a few years, but she did. Andrea was 16 and Robin was 25 when the two first met, in New York’s LaGuardia airport. “When I got off the plane,” says Robin, who’d been brought up by her mom in California, “she was standing at the end of the jetway. I thought I was seeing my own reflection.” In 2005, the biracial sisters ended up in California concocting a plan to squeeze into the very male, very white, very old-school wine industry. First, they became importers, then distributors, and in 2009 they produced their first vintage. Many followed, including a Black Girl Magic collection, from New Zealand and California. Today the McBride Sisters Wine Collection sells 80,000 cases a year, landing it in the top 3 percent of wineries by size. But the sisters want to see more women there. On March 8, International Women’s Day, they debuted She Can—a New Zealand sauvignon blanc and a California rosé in cans—along with a fund to advance the careers of women in the wine industry. “It’s better than when we started,” says Robin. Andrea finishes the sentence: “But there’s still a lot more work to be done.”

Tiffany Dufu

Founder and CEO/ The Cru

Tiffany Dufu can’t say no to a woman asking for advice, having pushed for female leadership her entire career. In January 2018 she was at The Wing, urging a woman to create a network to support her goals. But the woman told her, “I have a job, three kids, a mother with a diagnosis, and a dog. I don’t have time to find these people.” That was Dufu’s epiphany. Last year she launched The Cru to take the work out of networking. The platform’s algorithm matches customers to nine other nearby women (your “Cru”), then helps the group meet regularly to support each member—whether it's through a divorce or to a work raise. Dufu brought her first 100 women into the community and has more than 1,000 on the waiting list. Morgan Stanley is a founding partner, and Disney is doing a Cru pilot for its employees this fall. “I know what I want on my tombstone,” says Dufu. “ ‘She got to as many women as she could.’ ”

Jessica Billingsley

Founder/ MJ Freeway

CEO/ Akerna

Jessica Billingsley has never waited to be invited to the table. In 2010, as the cannabis industry was filling up with bros, she founded MJ Freeway, a pioneering cannabis SaaS technology company that can track inventory from seed to sale. By fiscal year 2018, it was generating $10.4 million in annual revenue. Then, at a large dinner event in Denver, she ditched her assigned seat for an empty chair up by the stage and sat with the chairman of a special purpose acquisition company that was on the hunt for a cannabis tech operation like hers. That led to a deal: In June, MJ Freeway merged with the public company MTech Acquisitions to become Akerna—making Billingsley the first female CEO to lead a cannabis company on the NASDAQ. “When I started and told people what I did for a living, they would walk away. So to have public validation, it was…” She pauses. “Awesome.”

THE BIG QUESTION ABOUT COMFORT

Continue Reading with Magzter GOLD

GoldLogo

Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines

READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE

October - November 2019