Judi Sheppard Missett
She was a pioneer in understanding just how big fitness would become—and has stayed on top of her company for 50 years.
Not many entrepreneurs have to rent out convention centers to celebrate their companies’ silver anniversaries. But that’s what Judi Sheppard Missett did in June, when more than 3,000 teachers and students of Jazzercise descended on San Diego for two days of classes (some taught by the 75-year old Missett), branded apparel, and general hoopla. An on-site museum chronicled Missett’s odyssey from a 13-year-old hoofer instructing kids in her parents’ basement in Iowa through her founding of an international brand that was, in the ’80s, the nation’s second largest franchiser and a pioneer in the fitness industry. Today, Missett remains CEO of the $100 million company, with more than 8,500 franchises worldwide. (Her daughter, Shanna Missett Nelson, is president.) “There aren’t a lot of women who started a company and are still running it 50 years later—and that company is thriving,” says Missett. --Leigh Buchanan
For understanding how we really want to work out
It’s safe to say that Brynn Putnam, a former professional ballerina and the founder of Refine, a group of three fitness clubs in New York City, knows a thing or two about exercise. But, after having a baby, she found herself in an unthinkable position: she was a gym owner with no time to go to the gym. Putnam also noticed her Refine members loved it when she installed more mirrors, something Putnam had been used to as a ballerina. Putnam hooked up a Raspberry Pi computer to a mirror to create a hacked-together mirror-slash-fitness instructor. Many iterations later, that product became Mirror, which streams fitness classes and is second only to Peloton as the breakout fitness product of the pandemic. Retailing at $1,495 plus subscription fees of $39 a month for on-demand classes, Mirror is not for everyone. In July, though, Lululemon decided it definitely was for them, and purchased the company for $500 million. –Gabrielle Bienasz
Christina M. Rice
She created a social wellness community for women of color.
In 2015, when Christina M. Rice was running her own PR firm in New York City--and completely burnt out--she decided to get her yoga teacher certification as a way to relax. But Rice felt out of place; she was the only black woman among the 50 students. “The feeling of being the other in a class of women who don’t look like you can be intimidating,” she says. She launched OMNoire in 2017 to highlight yoga and meditation instructors who were also women of color, and then created destination retreats with the same theme. After revenue grew by 200 percent in 2018, Rice closed her PR business and moved OMNoire to Atlanta. This year she launched OMNoire’s first six-week, virtual retreat, priced at $395, for customers who can’t afford to buy plane tickets or to take time off. --Emily Canal
Her digital health clinic has given two million women access to on-demand health care.
Kate Ryder is helping companies retain their most valuable asset: employees. New mothers who use Maven, the digital health clinic Ryder founded in 2014, are more likely to remain in the workplace, she says. The health app lets women connect with more than 1,500 health practitioners for a variety of services, including birth-control prescriptions, breast-milk shipping, and treatments for post-partum depression. Maven’s data shows that 90 percent of its users return to work on time after having a baby, compared with the national average of 57 percent. Its platform is available to individuals on a per-session basis, and also for companies and health plans looking to enrich their benefits. Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, is already on board. With more than $42 million in funding, Maven has helped more than two million people get access to health care. --Guadalupe Gonzalez
She's bringing her successful Drybar model of providing expensive beauty treatments at a reduced cost to the massage industry.
In March 2019, Alli Webb and her team opened Squeeze, a massage shop that lets patrons book and pay by way of an app, giving them a seamless experience when they arrive for their rubdown at spaces designed by the architect behind Drybar, her runaway-success hair care chain. Webb says she plans to build Squeeze, where massages cost $39 to $129, on a franchise model, "because it's really gratifying to be able to give [entrepreneurs] the keys to the kingdom.” Webb isn’t a college graduate, and that untraditional path is something she hopes will inspire other entrepreneurial women. “There are a lot of different pathways to success,” she says. On the Drybar side, Webb has been focusing on building the product line, adding a mini-brush hair straightener and a quick-dry blowout serum, among other items. Drybar products will be in more than 2,700 retail doors by 2020, including 128 Drybar shops. The company will add some 25 locations by the end of 2019. --Anna Meyer