Refinery 29: The Growing Industry That Walmart & Kate Spade Are Investing In



Some descriptions of “women in the workplace” sound more like National Geographic specials than serious business profiles. “How did she get there?” the narrator asks dramatically. “Can she adapt to this strange and hostile environment?” And, silly as it seems, women in some business sectors still are anomalies, facing challenges inasserting their credibility, in earning leadership opportunities, and in receiving capital investment. This is a particularly sad prospect, given that women make up more than 50% of the population. Still, there are always outlying sectors that reflect more equanimity, and fashion has long been one industry with plenty of female-fueled success.

Women have commanded a presence in the space for ages. And considering apparel sales alone are estimated to bring in $1 trillion annually, it’s quite a commanding space. But, like any field, retail has had major ups and downs, including deserved criticism of its lack of sustainable practices and poor labor conditions that have devastating human and environmental costs. There’s a growing sensibility — especially among female entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, artisans, and consumers — that ethical fashion is good common sense both in terms of the world and in business, and they are finding new and varied ways to fundamentally change the way we produce, sell, and buy our goods. The goal? Aligning the merchandise in our closets with the values in our hearts. And it’s no surprise that women are leading that charge.

The Artisans
Once relegated to the back of country stores, handmade goods are cool again, and the industry is actually booming, thanks to platforms like Etsy and ArtFire. The mother-daughter team crafting glitter clothespins on their kitchen counter (an honest-to-god recent purchase of mine) can sell online without the overhead of a physical store or even an e-commerce site. Each marketplace allows small-batch makers a forum in which to showcase their products virtually. This kind of artisan industry has mobilised fleets of women — who otherwise may have had to balance a professional career with family life — to have their own businesses, on their own terms and time.

It’s not just happening in the United States.

“The artisan sector is worth £21 billion a year,” says Cathy Russell, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. “It’s one of the largest employers in developing countries, second only to agriculture in many places. And the large majority of artisans are women, who we know are more likely to invest money back into their families’ health and education, and also more likely to hire other women.”

These artisans continue to expand their reach, utilizing easy-to-use e-commerce stores to reach the global consumer with nothing more than a smart phone.

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Fast Company: Inside The Fastest-Growing Accelerator for Women And Minorities



Most accelerators require entrepreneurs to spend three to six months in residence, which can be difficult for women entrepreneurs, particularly if they have families. So, in 2015, serial entrepreneur and former investment banker Carolyn Rodz founded Circular Board, a virtual 90-day accelerator for women entrepreneurs.

Circular Board’s first class was held this winter with 170 women and is now gearing up for a new class that will begin this September with 500 women. The 12-week program ends with a virtual demo day where members upload video pitches to receive feedback from mentors, investors, media, and other influencers on how to improve their pitch, and to find out if investors or advisors are interested in partnering with them. Circular Board also has partnered with the UN Foundation to create Pitch with a Purpose, a pitch competition for women entrepreneurs whose businesses support one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Currently, nearly half (42%) of the women in the accelerator are ethnically diverse and represent six continents. Rodz estimates that about 18% of applicants are accepted into Circular Board compared with 5% at many traditional accelerators.

All of these attributes—a large class size, a higher acceptance rate, diverse members, a global perspective, and virtual meeting space—make Circular Board unique.

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Forbes: Women May Make Better Entrepreneurs And Here’s Why

By James Giancotti


Women entrepreneurs are articulate, tenacious and ambitious.  To my understanding, a third of all new companies created today are run by women.  Entrepreneurship supports economic growth and so what is good for women is good for the economy.

Female entrepreneurs are an under tapped force and if fully realized, can significantly boost economic expansion. April 2016 marked an exciting announcement of World Bank’s $2.5 billion investment in education projects for adolescent girls. The First Lady, Michelle Obama’s powerful on-site speech is a genuine endorsement of the bright future in harnessing the talents and economic potentials of mankind and women in particular.

Women are proving themselves to be more than capable. They are confident, believe in themselves and have drive and urgency to take on the best in the business. Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Sheryl Sandberg during one of my trips to the Valley and it is no surprise that women entrepreneurs are a fast growing sector.

There is consistent research confirming the finding that women make better entrepreneurs to some degree. According to 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report, women are found to be slightly more successful than their male counterparts, and have high expectations in general. The annual revenue generated by those companies run by women are, on the average, about 13% more than the average of those in operation by males.

Additionally, women are shown to have a more positive attitude towards the future of their businesses, with 89% expecting stable profit growth in the next 12 months. At an aggregate level, close to US$5.96 billion has been earned by female entrepreneurs surveyed in this research.

Forbes lists 16 of powerful female entrepreneurs.

Black Enterprise: New Guidebook to Help Women Entrepreneurs Grow



Lessons from the 50 fastest growing women owned businesses

Women-owned firms have grown at a rate five times the national average since 2007, according to the 2016 American Express OPEN State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. To further the momentum and encourage more women-owned businesses to grow, the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO)–a national nonprofit with 127 chapters located internationally–launched the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Guide to Growth, sponsored by American Express.

Written by Dr. Marsha Firestone, president and founder of WPO, and Susan Johnson, director of communications for WPO, the book aims to help women business owners grow their enterprises through tried-and-true methods, and arms female entrepreneurs with actionable ways to succeed. It features stories from 15 different experienced female business owners, who are also winners of the 50 Fastest Women-Owned/Led Companies.

Fastest Growing by the Numbers

The 50 Fastest generated a combined $4.96 billion in 2015 revenues (mean of $99.2 million) and collectively employed 44,744 in 2015 (mean of 1,028). All eligible companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. From this list, the 50 Fastest were selected. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned/led companies and have reached revenue of at least $500,000 by the first week of 2011 and $2 million in 2015.

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Inc. Magazine: Another Reason for Women Entrepreneurs to Seek Out Female Investors

getty_533979145_100805By Kimberly Weisul

We all know that women get precious little venture capital funding: Only three percent of venture capital goes to female CEOs, according to Babson College. And that might be because so few women become venture capitalists: Only six percent of investing partners are women, also according to Babson.

Now, here’s the twist. New research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that if you’re a woman starting a company, you and your startup may be better off without all those guys. In fact, writes Sahil Raina, an assistant professor of finance at the Alberta School of Business who did the research, women entrepreneurs are much more likely to achieve successful exits if their investors are other women.

Raina used Crunchbase to compare startups that were female-led with those that were male-led, and then to look at the gender of their backers. Overall, he found that female-led startups were less likely to achieve a successful exit than male-led startups. About 17 percent of female-led venture-backed startups had a successful exit (in the form of an acquisition or an initial public offering), compared with 27 percent of male-led startups.

Click here to read more.

Avis: Pedestrians Rule


Whether you are driving for business or pleasure, pedestrians rule at all times: Drivers – look out for pedestrians everywhere. Pedestrians – look out for cars everywhere.

When you are walking:

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day and wear reflective materials, or use a flashlight, at night.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.

When you are driving:

  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can move into your path.
  • Be alert! Parking lots, garages, service islands, crosswalks and driveways are all potential areas for pedestrians.

Visit to save up to 25% off your rental on your next business trip.


*WPO would like to thank Avis Budget Group for providing this week’s sponsor content.

New York Magazine: Women Can Start a Business With Half As Much Money As Men


By Dayna Evans

In an annual survey that tracks entrepreneurship throughout the U.S., it was found that women entrepreneurs reported to needing half as much money as men when starting businesses. Women: We’ve been doing more with less since the dawn of time.

The survey, called the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, asked 5,944 people between the ages of 18 and 74 living in the U.S. about their entrepreneurial habits and found that the typical woman who had just started a business said she started it with only $10,000. And while women reported to needing only half as much money, they were twice as likely as men to rely on family members to help in funding their new ventures.

But what was most interesting is that women started their businesses much later in life than men: Women were most likely to launch new ventures between the ages of 35 and 44, while men got their entrepreneurial feet wet between 25 and 34. Donna Kelley, a co-author of the study, said the reason for that could be women getting driven out of the corporate world due to “career frustration.” Kelley also told Bloomberg that she believes women could start their businesses on such shoe-strapped budgets because they are likely to be more efficient with their money. Or alternately: They’re given less money from the get-go.