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Today marks the 110th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day to reflect on the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the globe. Aside from donating to female-focused charities, raising awareness about women’s equity, and lobbying for gender parity, spending your money at women-owned businesses is one of the easiest ways you can show support on IWD.
Women of the past and present are paving the way for future female business leaders. According to a 2020 study, 40 percent of United States companies are women-owned, and there are 114 percent more women entrepreneurs than 20 years ago.
Of the 12.3 million businesses owned by women, our shopping editors curated a guide of 20 of our favorites that you need to know about — from fashion to beauty to food brands — all built and run by some pretty incredible women. Whether you’re looking to treat your mom to luxury jewelry for Mother’s Day, upgrade your skincare routine with spiritual beauty products, or cozy up in eco-friendly loungewear, we’ve got you covered.
Below, learn more about some of our favorite brands, their products, and the amazing entrepreneurs who created them.
Luxury and impact are at the core of every hand-crafted piece of jewelry from Akola, which means “she works” in a local Ugandan dialect. Founder Brittany Merrill Underwood’s brand now employs just under 200 women from rural villages in Uganda and teaches them leadership and financial literacy skills. Its pieces are made from locally sourced, sustainable materials, like upcycled cow horns, that give back to the earth and are representative of the heart of Africa. In honor of IWD, Akokla launched a new version of its popular DIY kit that lets you design your own pieces with a variety of gorgeous beads and charms.
The incredibly supportive shoes from Avre, founded by sisters Julie and Connie Kuo, have caught the eyes of celebrities like Olivia Munn and Aubrey Plaza. Made from recycled plastics, Avre’s machine-washable sneakers are created with a focus on both sustainability and style. They’re moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating as well, making them the ideal sneakers to wear all year round.
Keeping the women that inspire you most close to your heart is easy thanks to Awe Inspired. The jewelry brand, created by Jill Johnson and her son Max in 2017, designs pendants with detailed reliefs of iconic women from past, present, and mythology, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the brand’s best-seller), Harriet Tubman, Frida Kahlo, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, and many others. It has garnered the attention of an impressive list of celebrities who have worn the brand’s pendants, like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Sophia Bush, and Sarah Hyland.
AYR got its start as a “sister brand” to Bonobos, but this little sister has since grown up and moved out on her own. Founded by Maggie Winter, Max Bonbrest, and Jac Cameron, three fashion friends making clothes to wear all year round (hence the brand’s name), AYR is arguably most famous for The Robe duster coat, seen on top models like Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner, as well as Bonbrest’s incredibly chic grandmother, who is technically also a model. Its high-quality denim is similarly flawless. And don’t overlook AYR’s simple pima cotton tees — they’re always 20 percent off when you buy two or more.
Co-founders Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky turned their business school project into a thriving brand that’s sought-after by women and celebrities alike. BaubleBar offers a collection of eccentric and colorful jewelry pieces that allow women to play with the latest trends at an affordable cost. Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, and Lizzo are just a few of the stars who have accessorized with BaubleBar earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Today, the brand is donating 10 percent of all sales to Baby2Baby — a nonprofit organization that advocates and supports women and their children — to support their ongoing COVID-19 relief effort.
Ask beauty insiders and editors, and you’ll likely hear glowing praise for this all-natural, Black-owned haircare brand that will give you the softest and healthiest hair you could ever wish for. Created by Nancy Twine, Briogeo was one of the first African-American-owned hair care brands to launch at Sephora. Its scalp-cleansing shampoos and repairing creams have earned rave reviews wherever you shop them — in fact, Nordstrom shoppers have called its lauded conditioning mask an “amazing game changer.”
Gigi Pip’s hats are made by women, for women. Simple, sleek, yet extremely fashionable, the brand’s toppers are designed to inspire confidence and meant to be worn for all the different “hats” women wear in life. That said, Gigi Pip’s hats are nearly impossible to get your hands on; they always sell out and have racked up waitlists in the thousands.
TikTok-famous swimwear company Kitty & Vibe is known for its colorful prints and inclusive size range. But did you know that founder Cameron Armstrong created the company with a never-before-seen sizing tool that offers two revolutionary sizes to fit big and small bums more comfortably? With new “vibes” coming out every season, you might want to stock up on these flattering swimsuits before they sell out (again!).
Olive & June is a nail polish brand that specializes in tools and polish for at-home manis and pedis. Founder Sarah Gibson Tuttle created two separate systems for your hands and feet, so you have everything you need to get salon-quality nails at home. The brand now has over 60 polish colors and continues to release new collections each season.
We could all use some cooking shortcuts, and Omsom’s flavor-packed starter sauces are ready to deliver. Dreamed up by two first-generation Vietnamese-American sisters looking to bring authentic Asian flavors into American homes, these meal kits are an easy way to cook dishes like sigsig, larb, bulgogi, and more. All you need to do is add the sauce to your favorite meat or vegetable and dinner is served.
Parade is the inclusive, eco-friendly underwear brand the world didn’t know it needed. According to founder and CEO Cami Téllez, its goal is to “rewrite the American underwear story” with super soft undies in a range of stylish colors, textures, and silhouettes, all of which are made from recycled fabric. Prices start at $8, and every pair is available in sizes up to 3X.
To celebrate her Chinese heritage, CEO and founder Lin Chen launched her business in 2017 with a gua sha tool and accompanying face oil. In just a few years, Pink Moon has become an online oasis of female-founded self-care, wellness, and lifestyle brands that inspire sustainable living. The company has everything from candles to body oils to lipsticks from 24 different brands, 30 percent of which are founded by women of color.
Co-founded by Iva Pawling and Tim Morse, Richer Poorer was already making comfortable basics before the pandemic made them all the rage. It started with sock and underwear lines, and now offers wildly comfortable matching underwear sets, sweats, T-shirts, and more on its site. The brand is also committed to sustainability, so many of its pieces are made from recycled materials that you can feel good about.
Makeup brand Reina Rebelde is spearheaded by Mexican-born Regina Merson. Its unique collections of eye shadow, liner, and lipsticks honors various Latin cultures and celebrates Latin beauty in each campaign. Plus, its best-selling lipstick Brava is a multi-award-winning product that gives you the perfect red pout.
Owned by Latina entrepreneur Julissa Prado, Rizos Curls has quickly become a favorite for curly-haired “reinas” everywhere. Its best-selling products are made without harmful sulfates, silicones, and parabens. In just three years since its launch, Rizos Curls has rapidly expanded its fanbase and is even used by Insta-famous makeup artists like @viva_glam_kay. Add a bottle of the brand’s hair products to your cart on its website, or while you’re shopping at Target or Amazon.
A butcher who wants us to eat less meat? Yep, that’s Seemore Meats & Veggies. Founded and operated by a fourth-generation female butcher who wants to make the meat industry more sustainable, Seemore makes fully-cooked sausages stuffed with humanely raised meat, fresh vegetables, and flavorful herbs. Pick from five incredible flavors, like Chicken Parm, Loaded Baked Potato, and Bubbe’s Chicken Soup.
Professional, Instagram-worthy photos that are actually affordable? Yes, please. Shoott aggregates back-to-back sessions in a single location for freelance photographers and offers customers an easy way to book a pro on-demand for a free personalized session. From there, customers can choose to pay $15 per photo, $120 for 10 photos, or $240 for all 40+ photos. The company was created in 2018 in New York City by Jennifer Tsay, Kat Tchernavskikh, and Daniel Kaufman, but is now available in 500 locations across 40+ cities nationwide. Check out its website to find the latest available bookings near you.
Founder Tina Chow Rudolf wanted to create a line of beauty products that put a woman’s emotional wellness first. The result was Strange Bird, a plant-powered and crystal-charged brand that combines ancient Chinese beauty traditions with high vibrational alchemy so that women can let their skin glow and energy flow. All of the products are formulated using clean ingredients (nothing you wouldn’t put on a baby) along with its signature G-Team, a combination of ginger, ginseng, and goji berry. In the spirit of self-care, Strange Bird donates 1 percent of all its sales to support women’s mental health initiatives.
Founder Amy Liu set out to create a line of products safe for sensitive skin based on her own struggles with eczema, and the result is Tower 28’s gentle makeup that looks as good on Instagram as it would on your skin. Its extensive “blacklist” of no-no products means its skincare and makeup follow the guidelines of the National Eczema Association, and even meet the stringent ingredient regulations of the European Union.
Championing diversity and body-positivity in the athleisure space, Wolven founder Kiran Jade has created a brand that’s beloved for its ultra-soft leggings and sports bras (with a huge celebrity following). Inspired by her South Asian heritage, Jade “set out to create a brand that empowered differences — shapes, sizes, cultures, identities — as sustainably as possible,” as the brand explains. Accordingly, Wolven partners with the non-profit organization Climate Neutral to achieve its green goals, with the production of Wolven clothing being carbon-neutral.