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Women's History Month 2021: 126 best women-owned brands

Women-owned businesses to consider shopping from across food, fitness, fashion and more.
Illustration of Katie Kaps and Lauren Berlinger from HigherDose and Ju Rhyu of Hero Cosmetics. Women's History Month 2021. Best women-owned and female-founded to support today and everyday.
Katie Kaps (left) and Lauren Berlinger (center) are the owners of HigherDOSE, an infrared sauna spa in New York and Ju Rhyu (right) created popular skin care line Hero Cosmetics.Courtesy HigherDOSE; Courtesy of Hero Cosmetics

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Despite the frequent interchangeability of phrases like “women-owned” and “female-founded,” the two terms aren’t always related — a female-founded brand might not be owned by a woman anymore and a presently-women-owned business might not have been founded by a woman. During social-minded instances like Women's History Month, understanding what each label denotes could mean the difference between supporting a brand that’s actually run by women, or one that happens to have women working within it, for example Proactiv was founded by two female dermatologists is now owned by Nestlé.

SKIP AHEAD Women-owned products | Women-owned brands

47 percent of female business owners consider their company’s overall outlook as ‘good,’ compared to 62 percent of men polled.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce data

So what’s the difference? Female-founded means that a business was created by a woman or women, according to a spokesperson for nonprofit Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which certifies women-owned businesses in the United States after they meet a set of eligibility standards, like a woman heading up the day-to-day operations of a company. But when it comes to women-owned businesses, things can get trickier. The Department of Defense, for example, defines a women-owned business as one wherein at least 51 percent is owned and operated by a woman or by women — that is, a women-owned business can have male co-owners, as long as they don’t make up the majority of ownership.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), which is designed to support small businesses no matter who owns them, uses the 51-percent requirement when brands apply to its Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, which offers government contracts for small businesses. These "set-asides" were implemented to help guarantee at least 5 percent of federal contracting budgets involve women-owned businesses. In 2019, the SBA noted that women-owned small businesses received $26 billion of eligible contracting dollars, equating to more than 134,500 jobs.

Women-owned businesses in 2021

“Ambitious women can face hurdles that men don't in terms of family planning,” said Katie Kaps, co-founder of HigherDOSE. She called a woman’s 30s “an incredibly important decade for career advancement,” but noted wanting to have kids during that time frame “puts a lot of pressure on women.” There are plenty of significant challenges that female entrepreneurs face, otherwise, including gender bias from investors, managing child care and pregnancy discrimination. And just over 30 years ago, things were much worse. With former President Ronald Regan’s signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 into federal law, women were (finally) no longer required to have a male relative cosign a business loan and various resources were made available to women entrepreneurs — the law included the formation the National Women’s Business Council, among other things.

Still, identifying women-owned businesses isn't straightforward. This month, the WBENC partnered with Target to put a women-owned logo on products meeting the aforementioned 51 percent standard. With this Target collection, you can find more than 200 woman-owned brands, ranging from Good Dirt’s potting mix to nail polish from Olive & June. Target is also part of the organization’s Women Owned in Retail education and outreach program, which aims to help female entrepreneurs better navigate the retail industry. Since any WBENC-certified brand can use the women-owned logo on their packaging, you may find the logo on products regardless of where you’re shopping.

Women-owned businesses and coronavirus

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has hit women-owned businesses particularly hard. According to a July 2020 poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, only 47 percent of female business owners considered their company’s overall outlook as “good,” compared to 62 percent of the men polled.

For Black women, business ownership can be even more difficult, according to a February 2021 survey from Visa, which partnered with market trends firm Wakefield Research to survey more than 250 Black women business owners whose revenue is less than $1 million and who employ less than 100 people: 71 percent of respondents predicted they’ll have to shut down their operations if current pandemic conditions continue for one more year. And though more than half (54 percent) of Black women respondents said their businesses received support during the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, less than a quarter (22 percent) saw that financial support flow into 2021. Widening the aperture on the effects of Covid paints an even more grim picture: By April of last year, more than 40 percent of all Black-owned businesses had shuttered.

When Ju Rhyu, owner and founder of Hero Cosmetics, reflected on what it means to be Asian American and running a company in the U.S., she noted the role is accompanied by “a lot of responsibility” to support her community, “especially as a business owner, since there is privilege and influence in being in this position.” That sense of responsibility — and privilege — are only accentuated given that 44 percent of unemployed Asian American women have been out of work for at least six months. Last year, the Asian American Federation also found the unemployment rate of Asian Americans in New York jumped from 3.4 percent in February to 25.6 percent in May.

Women-owned business resources

Rhyu credits networking with helping her successfully navigate her business. For example, after launching the brand’s signature Mighty Patch, she wanted to expand into face masks for your skin. However, a female investor encouraged her to “dominate patches and to be really known for that.” Rhyu ended up scraping the idea and “really changed the trajectory of our company, because I thought she was right.”

Among Rhyu’s tips for aspiring female business owners is patience. "Creating your business will not happen overnight. It's a series of actions that you take every day that accumulate and become the business you aimed to grow," she said.

Social media and networking

Although Rhyu considers networking to be “critical,” the Columbia Business School alumna didn’t utilize formal organizations like her university’s career network or the WBENC. Rather, she found success on LinkedIn, cold-emailing and messaging people because “a lot of times you’re one or two degrees away from other people.” She advised readers to introduce themselves and briefly describe their company and key stats to “hook their attention in case they don’t know the brand.”

Who to reach out to? One group Rhyu said is “important” to connect with is other founders. "They will be extremely helpful and crucial as you build and oftentimes they will be the only ones who can empathize and understand what you are going through in successes and failures," Rhyu explained — the SBA recommends reaching out to industry leaders through SCORE, too, its volunteer network of mentors for both women and men.

Rhyu “definitely recommends” female entrepreneurs join Twitter to connect with other founders, as well. A few of her favorite Twitter accounts for “interesting and cool” e-commerce takeaways include Web Smith, Jaime Schmidt (“a must follow”),Chris Cantino,Patrick Coddou andTaylor Sicard. Another pro tip from Rhyu is to look out for profiles whose bios say they’re “open to DMs” in their bios, “which signals that they're more than happy to connect with folks.”

“Sometimes I joke that it's better than an MBA,” she said. “I've learned a lot.”

Slack isn’t a traditional social media site, like Instagram and Facebook, but there are specific Slack channels for women on it, like Female Founders, which is targeted at women in the tech industry, and you can apply for free online. Rhyu, herself part of Lean Luxe (for luxury business news), DtoCEcommBrainTrust (for e-commerce news) and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s FemaleFoundersCollective (for networking with other female founders), called these groups a “great way to meet other people and just share knowledge and learn from each other.” Those three Slack channels are also free and open to join.

Networking databases

Beyond social media sites, there are formal organizations offering resources with an eye toward female entrepreneurship, like New York Women in Business, which has a directory of more than 570 female-owned local businesses. The organization also hosts virtual webinars and uploads free videos on its YouTube channel, like how to run a business remotely. The WBENC offers various scholarships and networking opportunities for women in business. In 2017, they launched NextGen, which focuses on providing resources like mentorship matchmaking and coaching to millennials and Gen Z.

Before the nonprofit Asian Women in Business (AWIB) shut down in 2020, the organization spent 25 years helping female Asian entrepreneurs through various corporate task forces, forums and scholarships. One AWIB database still available online is its resources page, which includes domestic and international Asian and Asian American organizations, guidance on general business development by state and resources for anyone facing foreclosure.

The SBA compiles information for aspiring female business owners, too. The organization offers content ranging from how to launch your brand to tips for discovering which business structure is best for your needs.

Our favorite women-owned products in 2021

Here are 20 items from women-owned brands that stood out to us, from coronavirus-related essentials and period-related products to vegan-friendly snacks and home goods.

1. Mirror

Mirror is the best compact gym offering live classes – it boasts on-demand workouts that require relatively low commitment, from five to 60 minutes per session. You can decompress by practicing tai chi and yoga or opt for more intense bootcamp and boxing classes if you’re in the mood to sweat.

2. Parachute Linen Duvet Cover Set

Direct-to-consumer bedding brand Parachute created a relatively lightweight duvet set made from Oeko-TEX Standard 100-certified linen, meaning that every thread and accessory on this duvet set was tested for harmful chemicals. The linen set includes a duvet cover and matching sham set made in Portugal from European flax. There are ten neutral colors to consider, from Clay and Fog to Shore and Surplus.

3. Saalt Menstrual Cup

Saalt is best known for its array of sustainable menstrual cups, made from medical-grade silicone. The brand makes three versions of the cups — Teen, Soft and Original — and two bundles. The Teen cup absorbs as much as two tampons while the Soft and Original models equal to three or four tampons, according to the brand. The cups are available in vibrant colors like Wild Rose to Aqua Green and Himalayan Pink and Ocean Blue.

4. Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original

Rhyu launched her company on Amazon in 2017 with just a single product: Mighty Patch Original, a small and thin hydrocolloid pimple patch that moves dirt and moisture away from acne to help calm inflammation. Hero says this top-rated pimple patch can shrink breakouts within six hours compared to other options on the market, which typically need to be left on overnight.

According to Rhyu, Hero sells a box of Mighty Patches every 15 seconds, with over 3 million boxes sold in over 8,000 stores like Target, Ulta Beauty, Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus. She also told us the brand is on track to surpass $80 million in retail sales for 2021.

5. Megababe Rosy Pits Deodorant

One of Megababe’s signature products is Rosy Pits, a stick deodorant made with natural ingredients like coconut, which has antifungal properties and vitamin E to help calm inflammation from razor burn. As its name suggests, Rosy Pits has a light floral scent, but you can also order the aluminum-free deodorant Sunny Pits, which smells like lemon. Megababe founder Katie Sturino’s first big product launch was the Thigh Rescue, a stick that prevents chafing between the thighs.

6. United Sodas of America

The Brooklyn-based brand claims to incorporate organic ingredients to sweeten their beverages and offers 12 different flavored sodas, like classic Ginger Ale, tropical-inspired Toasted Coconut and slightly tart Lemon Verbena and Sour Blueberry. If you’re not sure where to start, opt for the 12-piece variety pack which includes one of each flavor, or order a theme pack like The Finer Things Club, which has Strawberry Basil, Pear Elderflower and Lemon Verbena.

7. Hatch Anaelle Dress

This colorful and breezy maternity dress made from a combination of silk and cotton blend has a high-low hemline and is designed to hit a few inches above the ankles. It sports flirty ruffle trimming along the shoulders and comes in two color prints: Pink Poppy and Blue Poppy.

8. Hatch Calm Bath Soak

You don’t have to be expecting to shop at maternity brand Hatch, as the brand also sells bath and body products to help create a spa-like experience at home. Hatch claims this bath soak is dermatologist- and allergy-tested and free of dyes and parabens. It’s made from natural ingredients like pink Himalayan sea salt to help you relax, acacia fiber to help soothe and coconut milk to help moisture and calm skin.

9. Cocokind Oil To Milk Cleanser

Skin care brand Cocokind’s No. 1 bestseller is this top-rated gentle face wash made with a blend of natural and organic ingredients like vitamin E, known for helping reduce inflammation. It is also made from six organic oils, including sunflower seed, grape seed and Roman chamomile oils to help hydrate and calm your complexion. The brand claims this facial cleanser also helps remove dirt and makeup, and smells like a combination of chamomile and geranium.

10. CUUP Balconette Bra

“The sheer power mesh fabric is lightweight and feels as though you’re wearing nothing at all,” wrote Shopping production coordinator Rebecca Rodriguez about the CUUP bra in Espresso. The lightweight Balconette bra is available in 10 colors and a variety of sizes, ranging from 30 A to 38 H (sold out).

11. Rellery Cuban Link Bar Necklace

Looking for expensive-looking jewelry under $200 and want to support an Asian-American female business owner in the process? Rellery, a contemporary jewelry line favored by Shopping associate editor Nicole Saunders, offers pieces crafted from precious metals like 18-karat gold and sterling silver rather than steel, brass, zinc and nickel. The Cuban Link Bar Necklace is a bestseller, and you can now personalize your new jewels with a combination of words, initials, meaningful dates and coordinates.

12. Better Off Alone Jumpsuit

“Pandemic chic” clothing exists, according to Saunders who likes to rock the flattering Navy jumpsuit while running essential errands. The long sleeve, 100-percent cotton jumpsuit is biodegradable and treated with SilverPlus, an antimicrobial treatment. Better Off Alone also sells a travel kit equipped with an eye mask, pillowcase and seat cover, along with antimicrobial face masks. As we’ve previously reported, antimicrobial face masks do not prevent coronavirus. However, if rocking any garment treated with antimicrobial properties helps give you peace of mind while traveling or during socially-distant meetups, this comfy jumpsuit might be worth trying out.

13. Resoré Towels

Other Shopping editor-approved antimicrobial products are body and face towels from Australian brand Resoré. The line of super-soft White and Almond towels are made of hypoallergenic Turkish cotton. These fast-drying towels are made with sustainable Tencel lyocell and infused with Silverbac fibers, which Resoré claims will help prevent bacteria from rubbing back into your skin and, as a result, reduce acne.

14. Partake Foods Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Partake Food founder Denise Woodard created a healthy snack brand available at Target stores nationwide and recently brought on Rihanna as a Series A investor in the company. Partake Food offers various gluten-free vegans snacks like crunchy birthday cake, cookie butter and chocolate chip cookies, the latter of which are made with organic ingredients like buckwheat flour and sugar cane.

15. Omorovicza Hand Cream

Washing your hands or applying hand sanitizer frequently can strip your skin of moisture. To help combat dryness, invest in a hydrating hand cream like this one from Omorovicza, which is infused with shea butter and beeswax.The top-rated product is also made with vitamin C to help brighten dull skin and infused with the brand’s signature Hungarian thermal water, which Omorovicza claims has an anti-aging effect.

16. Ellis Brooklyn Myth Hydraparfum

In between penning a book and balancing motherhood, Bee Shapiro, an Asian-American entrepreneur, founded Ellis Brooklyn in 2014.Our associate editor keeps a shortlist of perfumes on rotation and this offering from Ellis Brooklyn, a clean fragrance and body care brand, makes the cut. Unlike traditional fragrances that mist out just liquid, Myth Hydraparfum comes out like a lightweight hyaluronic acid-infused gel with top notes of warm bergamot, ambrette seeds and cassis. Ellis Brooklyn earned the Clean Sephora tag, meaning it’s free of more than 50 harmful ingredients like parabens and sulfates.

17. Sigma brush cleanser

After stocking up on new makeup, you’ll need to carve out time to clean your makeup brushes to help prevent the spread of bacteria. Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, previously explained that dirty brushes are a “breeding grounds for bacteria,” and can cause acne and skin irritations. A simple solution favored by our associate editor is to squirt the cleanser onto the brand’s cleansing glove, mix with a few drops of water and then swirl her brushes into Sigma Beauty’s liquid brush cleanser. Sigma claims this antimicrobial brush cleanser is made with gentle-yet-effective ingredients like sustainable palm and virgin coconut oils.

18. Gr8nola Original Granola

While there’s nothing wrong with snacking on your favorite sweet or crunchy treats, you can opt for relatively healthier options like Gr8nola’s low-sugar granola. A bag of the Original flavor includes flaxseed and almonds sweetened with honey and cinnamon. The brand recently released a new Peanut Butter flavor that is free of gluten, soy and refined sugar. This month, Gr8nola teamed up with the Girl Up Campaign to host leadership programs aimed at promoting social justice change and equality.

19. Sicily Hill Oversized Champagne Candle

Jessica Hill Howard, an alumna of Southern Methodist University, launched Sicily Hill, her line of cocktail and beverage-inspired candles in 2017. She claims the company’s e-commerce sales increased by 622 percent from 2019 to 2020. Her 26-ounce soy wax candle boasts three wicks compared to the one wick found in the 7-ounce version. The larger candle is available in two other scents: A calming Lavender Tea and Cappuccino for the coffee lovers in your life.

126 women-owned brands to support in 2021

On top of our favorite products from women-owned brands, we rounded up companies that meet the 51 percent female ownership threshold and are aligned with Shopping reader interest across various categories like food and beverage to kitchenware, home goods and wellness products. Our list of women-owned products isn’t exhaustive, but we aim to actively update this feature to help keep you in the loop about female-owned companies worth considering.

Women-owned home and kitchen brands

Level up your home decor with a new mattress or sheets from Parachute or treat yourself or your favorite friend to a new indoor plant from Farmgirl Flowers.

  1. Branch Basics
  2. Chantal
  3. Ettitude
  4. Farmgirl Flowers
  5. Good Dirt
  6. Jungalow
  7. Mirror
  8. Parachute
  9. Rendall Co.
  10. Zip Top

Women-owned wellness and fitness brands

You can shop small at The Honey Pot Company, a Black-owned plant-based feminine care brand, or get your sweat on and order resistance bands from Pilates trainer Kim Carruthers.

  1. Aunt Flow
  2. Blk + Grn
  3. Clean & Cute
  4. COR Activewear
  5. Kim Carruthers
  6. Kushae
  7. Higher Dose
  8. LAVANILA
  9. Lucie Kaas
  10. Mega Babe
  11. Melissa Wood Health
  12. Mimi Yoga
  13. Saalt
  14. Silk + Sonder
  15. SmartyPits
  16. Spa Bem Ti Vi
  17. The Honey Pot Company
  18. This Works
  19. Ultracor
  20. Zen Yoga Strap

Women-owned fashion brands

These 22 fashion brands can help keep you looking and feeling stylish, even during the pandemic. Shop everything from Hatch’s chic maternity clothes to Hot Girl Pearls, which claims that if you pop their jewelry into the freezer, it’ll help cool you down for up to 30 minutes.

  1. Akala
  2. Anne Sisteron
  3. AVRE
  4. Better Off Alone
  5. Beyond Yoga
  6. Bijou Karman
  7. Electric Picks
  8. Fortnight Lingerie
  9. Generation collection
  10. Grey State
  11. Hatch
  12. Haverhill
  13. Helen Ficalora
  14. Hot Girls Pearls
  15. Ivy City Co.
  16. Jennifer Zeuner
  17. NK IMODE
  18. Made by Mary
  19. MIMI The Label
  20. MISS SWISS
  21. Modern Picnic
  22. Packed Party
  23. PDPAOLA
  24. Posh Peanut
  25. Laura Caspi
  26. LULUSIMONSTUDIO
  27. Rellery
  28. River Left
  29. Rowan
  30. SAWA Life
  31. Salone Monet
  32. Second/Wind
  33. STAYkini
  34. Ten Wilde
  35. Van Der Hout Jewelry
  36. White/Space Jewelry

Women-owned food and beverage brands

Whether you’re looking for low-sugar gummies or superfood granola, these 12 standout food and beverage brands are worth a try. Founded by the Kennedy sisters, 4 Sisters Rice sells organic and natural rice products at Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods and more. Likewise, mother-daughter duo Jane and Joyce Zhu use traditional Chinese recipes to create healthy snacks.

  1. 4 Sisters Rice
  2. 4th and Heart
  3. BEHAVE Candy
  4. Fresh Bellies
  5. Gr8nola
  6. Holidaily Brewing Company
  7. Partake Foods
  8. poppi
  9. Numa Foods
  10. Mingle Mocktails
  11. So Good So You
  12. Táche
  13. Tone it Up
  14. United Sodas

Women-owned skin care brands

Elevate your self-care routine by rolling away puffiness on your face with Mei Apothecary's jade roller or mist your skin with Omorovicza’s Queen of Hungary Mist when your complexion is looking a little dull.

  1. AbsoluteJOI
  2. Cocokind
  3. Colleen Rothschild Beauty
  4. Karuna
  5. Mei Apothecary
  6. Melanie Grant Skin
  7. Nourishe
  8. Naturally London
  9. Omorovicza
  10. One Love Organics
  11. Rael
  12. Repêchage
  13. Respire Skincare
  14. Synergie
  15. Tammy Fender
  16. Urban Skin RX
  17. Visha Skincare
  18. youbody

Women-owned beauty brands

You can support popular beauty brands like clean makeup brand LYS Beauty, shop dozens of makeup brushes by Sigma B eauty and find products to step up your hair care routine. For example, naturalistas can add products from Curls and Mielle Organics to their wash day routine, while those looking to switch up their hairstyle quickly can try clip in extensions from Glam Seamless.

  1. AMP Beauty LA
  2. Aquis
  3. Beauty Bakerie
  4. Blessed Beauty
  5. Birdy Lashes
  6. Ciate London
  7. Curls
  8. Glam Seamless
  9. Josie Maran
  10. KOSA Professionals
  11. LYS Beauty
  12. Mielle Organics
  13. Monika Blunder Beauty
  14. Not Your Mother’s Naturals
  15. Nudestix
  16. Odele
  17. Olive & June
  18. Pacifica
  19. Pai
  20. Pink Moon
  21. Rhoost
  22. Rituel de Fille
  23. SHEN Beauty
  24. Sigma Beauty
  25. Trinny London
  26. type: A
  27. Glamnetic
  28. Winky Lux

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Kala Herh, Shop TODAY and Zoe Malin, Shop TODAY contributed.