By Candace Huntly
We just celebrated International Women’s Day, but I think it’s important to celebrate the achievements of incredible women every day. So we’re keeping the momentum going. It’s no secret that woman-owned businesses have been hit hardest during the pandemic – most likely due to the fact that woman entrepreneurs tend to own businesses in services, health and beauty, and food sectors (WEKH Report). That is why it’s important to support woman-owned businesses and lift each other up. This especially hits home as a woman entrepreneur. I firmly believe that when one succeeds, we all succeed.
In the spirit of community and supporting some badass women, here are five woman entrepreneurs that have built businesses and created products and services that are both practical and inspiring.
Maryam Nabavi, Co-Founder & CEO, Babbly
Probably often the smartest person in the room, Maryam Nabavi is also humble and each conversation leaves you feeling a bit smarter as well. Nabavi is Co-Founder & CEO of Babbly, a free app that analyzes your child’s voice and gives parents data on their baby’s language development. An aerospace engineer by trade, Nabavi developed the concept for Babbly after she became frustrated with physician recommendations that she should just “wait and see” when it was clear her son’s language was not developing as expected. She realized that there was a lack of accessible tools available for parents to measure their baby’s language and brain development. Nabavi knew that technology could bridge that gap. Babbly’s advanced voice technology provides parents with a clear picture of their child’s language and social skills, removing the uncertainty parents might experience when self assessing their child’s language development. She wanted to make it accessible and available to all parents – and babbling is universal, so it doesn’t even matter what language is spoken at home!
In her own words, “Babbly is a labour of love.” It is truly a tool built for parents, made by a concerned mom.
Christal Earle, Founder & CEO, Brave Soles
Christal Earle is a powerhouse and destined to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to – and she is determined to save the world while she does it. Earle is Founder & CEO of Brave Soles, a conscious fashion and lifestyle brand that inspires people to think differently about the power of their choices. Brave Soles shoes, bags, and accessories are handcrafted using a combination of high quality upcycled and ethically produced materials. If you visit their website, you will see a live counter of their impact on the environment. Currently: 1808 tires upcycled (hello shoe soles!), 230 cars off the road for the day, 295,693 hours of light bulb energy saved. This woman owned brand has managed to create a beautiful product while consuming less energy in manufacturing and reducing harmful emissions from things like tire by-products in manufacturing. Before launching in 2017, Earle founded an international youth humanitarian organization in 2005. In 2010, she was faced with some difficult decisions due to an immigration issue and she managed to figure it out.
Earle’s story as a woman entrepreneur and single mother is both inspiring and proves that the choices we make can affect everything around us.
Melissa Seifert-Hyslop, Founder & CIO (Chief Idea Officer), Malarkey Kids
This one is a bit personal for me because we used a couple Malarkey products for Aurora when she was little! Melissa Seifert-Hyslop is the Founder and Chief Idea Officer of Malarkey Kids – famously known for their Munch Mitt. While I don’t know Seifert-Hyslop personally, I feel like I know her because you can tell that she develops all of her products based on personal experience and need. The Malarkey Kids brand started when her son was chewing on his hands to help relieve his teething pain. Most parents know this challenge and the fact that it can lead to skin irritation on the hands. Traditional teething products didn’t work, so she designed and developed her own.
Seifert-Hyslop takes the whole “if you want to do it right, do it yourself” approach that so many parents do every day. What is traditionally done isn’t always the right thing for your family. But a little creativity goes a long way. In this case, it creates the foundation for an entire empire.
Janelle Hinds, Founder and Executive Director, Helping Hands
Community-based initiatives are more important now than ever – especially when it comes to youth. Janelle Hinds is the Founder and Executive Director of Helping Hands, a mobile app that matches Greater Toronto Area students with volunteer placements. High school students are required to complete a certain number of volunteer hours. However, the challenge for most students – especially lower income students – is finding opportunities. Hinds created Helping Hands to bridge the gap for youth with meaningful opportunities and to give non-profit organizations the opportunity to find more volunteers.
Hinds has created something so simple, yet so effective for community-building.
Mary Kay Ash, Founder, Mary Kay
Most of us are familiar with Mary Kay as a brand. Many are familiar with the story behind it. However, Mary Kay Ash’s story acts as a good reminder for all women entrepreneurs, so I wanted to include it here. Mary Kay, a cosmetic company was launched in 1963 with a $5,000 investment and grew to a brand that brought in over $1.2 billion in sales internationally. Founder Mary Kay Ash started the brand after a successful sales career. In the early 1960s, Ash “quit in protest after watching yet another man that she had trained get promoted above her and earn a much higher salary than hers.” (Mary Kay) She started Mary Kay with incentive programs so consultants could actually benefit from their achievements (pink Cadillacs – need I say more). She changed the game for women and became a role model for women entrepreneurs everywhere.
The thing I love most about Ash is her unapologetic brand consistency – which started with her personality. The bubble gum pink packaging and branding matched the enthusiasm she brought to building a business. It is a good reminder to never stop being bold regardless of what others around you think. More often than not it will pay off for you.
There are so many more woman entrepreneurs that could have been included here if this weren’t already so long… I would love to hear more about your favourite woman-owned businesses – even if it’s yours! Include a link in the comments below or tag us on social media!