From LearnVest, a personal finance website for women, to Rent the Runway, a designer clothing rental service, these ingenious companies are—and only could be—the brainchildren of women. Take a look at the women making waves in the start-up world, some of whom will be speaking at the Inc. Women’s Summit on Dec. 1st.
From a humble design blog to media empire, Bonney is essentially the heir to Martha Stewart's throne. Her website DesignSponge, launched nearly a decade ago, covers food, furniture, and decorating. It has garnered a loyal following of crafty women who like DIY projects and love to cook. She recently wrote a book by the same name, launched a scholarship for design students, and made an appearance on, you guessed it, the Martha Stewart Show.
After getting frustrated with unsightly panty lines and uncomfortable undies, Blakely decided to launch her own line of lingerie and shape-wear. The Atlanta-based company launched in 2000, and Spanx has since become a household name. Blakely's undie-innovation has landed her in the spotlight more than once, from the Oprah Winfrey Show to Saturday Night Live. She also recently launched Giving Women a Leg Up, a program that aims to help female entrepreneurs get ahead.
What woman doesn't need a second opinion about their wardrobe? Evans decided to act on this common need, and launched GoTryItOn.com, a social platform where users can upload photos of themselves and get feedback from other members. Her impulse proved right. Earlier this year, the company received $3 million in funding, and is set to partner with big brands such as the Gap on style advice for users.
Nearly two decades ago, Price started making organic fragrances from her kitchen. She slowly began to sell them, under the label Carol's Daughter, at flea markets and local get togethers. Her customers, a community of health-conscious, black women, kept asking her to make more variations of beauty products. Today, the company has evolved to sell a complete line of women's beauty products, including hair, skin and fragrances. Price counts celebs like Mary J. Blige and Jada Pinkett Smith among her supporters.
With two successful start-ups under her belt, Gittins launched Blurb after she realized there wasn't an easy, cheap way to create a book from a series of photographs she had taken. Blurb lets users make, print, and sell their books in relatively easy steps for affordable prices. Blurb's community of authors continues to grow, and so does her revenue—hitting $45 million in 2009.
Realizing that women were not always taught to control their personal finances, von Tobel launched LearnVest in 2009. It's a website that helps women manage money in creative ways, using tools and apps. The Harvard-grad led the company to raise $25 million in funding from Accel Partners, and LearnVest now has around one million women users.
What's more frustrating than seeing a designer dress you can't afford? Founded in 2009 by Hyman and Fleiss, Rent the Runway lets members rent expensive designer clothes at a fraction of their cost—and have the dress delivered to their doorstep. Rent the Runway now boasts hundreds of designers' dresses, and recently added handbags, jewelry, and wedding attire. Based in New York City, the company has also begun expanding nationwide.
Herin has long been in business for women. After starting WeddingChannel.com, she launched Stella & Dot in 2004. The online marketplace let's users—mostly female stylists—sell merchandise via in-home trunk shows. "I was trying to create a business that would give women entrepreneurs opportunities," she says. Users end up being able to make a part time income from Stella & Dot.