The Undeniable Force of Women Influencing the Economy, Shaping Culture and Making History

by Carrie Bobb

Audrey Gleman | inc.com

Walking to my gate through San Diego International Airport, I did a double take passing by a newsstand. Is that a pregnant woman on the cover of Inc.? Audrey Gelman, the co-founder of the women’s co-working space, the Wing, was standing in all her 8-month-third-trimester glory on the cover of Inc. magazine.[1]

As I stand there holding the glossy magazine, something in me sparks with fierce joy for Audrey, Inc. Magazine and women everywhere. We’re doing it.

Just to be clear, this is not women versus men. Quite the contrary. Men, as well as women, see gender diversity impacting the bottom line, making their companies more dynamic, and are paving the way for their sons and daughters. Both men and women are recognizing the undeniable force of women in our businesses and economy. It’s too big to ignore.

Today, women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S.[2] Women will control two-thirds of all consumer wealth over the course of the next decade. And over that same period, women are expected to be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our nation’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion.[3]

That is a lot of money.

The letter from the editor was titled, “It’s No Longer Lonely at the Top.” | San Diego Magazine

On my flight, I read through this months issues of Inc., Fast Company, Entrepreneur, San Diego Magazine and Fortune. Over and over, page after page, I am reading about remarkable, never-been-done-before, inspirational women who are going for it and changing the world.

The Collection of Women

Repeatedly, women who are speaking about their personal success often address the collective successes of women in business, or they challenge social issues, leveraging their platform to push for intrinsic change. It struck me that women in business are approaching their individual success and accomplishments as a team sport.

femalefoundercollective.com

Rebecca Minkoff, founded the Female Founder Collective after learning that 82% of women are more likely to support female-founded companies if they only knew how, and just like that, it was born. “It proved to me that a symbol or a seal for consumers to recognize would be key for us to find ways to support and give our money to female founders,” says Minkoff.

She created a symbol so women could find each other and support each other even more.

Sara Blakely posted this pic captioned with “Big mood.” on Instagram. Sara Blakely | Instagram & LinkedIn

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is all about championing women in business. In 2006, she launched the Sara Blakely Foundation, which focuses on charities that empower underserved women and girls. Her website boasts, “While many of the world’s resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed: Women.”

Blakely writes, “Since I was a little girl I have always known I would help women. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would have started with their butts. As it turns out, that was a great place to start! Before starting Spanx, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to invent a product that would make millions of women feel good. Spanx became my way to deliver comfort, support and confidence to women all over the world. At the same time, it became my platform to give back. From the beginning, I set aside a portion of proceeds to give away. As the company grew, so did my opportunity to empower women.”

Paying It Forward

Something magical happens when women rally together. It starts out like champagne bubbles humming below the surface. It doesn’t take long for ideas to float to the top where they fizzle and pop, creating even more together.

Abby Wombach is a U.S. soccer Olympic gold medalist, New York Times best selling author and holds the world record for international goals for both female and male soccer players. In her book Wolfpack, she writes, “We will take action on behalf of all of us. We will help each other. We will point to each other. We will claim infinite joy, success, and power-together. We will celebrate the success of one woman as a collective success for all women.”

Over 92% of women said they pass along information about deals or recommendations to others, and it makes sense. [4]

It’s no wonder the force behind women entrepreneurs feels like the strong pull of a tide gaining more and more momentum. It is the individual women who are crushing it and covering new territories passing along their information and recommendations at a resounding rate. The results are exponential. And it’s only getting stronger.


[1] Gelman is the first pregnant CEO to grace the cover of a national business magazine.

[2] Source: Federal Reserve, MassMutual Financial Group, BusinessWeek, Gallup

[3] Source: Mediapost, April 19, 2013; She-conomy

[4] Source: Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather

How do you solve a problem like Warby, Away or The Giving Keys?

“Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.”

Thomas S. Monson

Some of my favorite brands were born out of a problem. Someone was curiously annoyed and set out to solve a problem. In some instances, their solution was a billion dollar solution. It’s fascinating. 

A person, a normal every day person, was frustrated or tripped up or struggling with something. And instead of excepting it and moving on, they wouldn’t let it go. They turned it upside down, right side up, inside out, flipped it around and tried to solve it like a Rubix cube, until something unlocked. And out of a problem something beautiful was born. 

What would happen in the world if we just didn’t let our problems go? What if we turned them upside down and inside out to find that seed of significance?

Sometimes when something in front of us looks like a daunting or insurmountable challenge, there is always another solution. We just have to find it.

Here are a few of my favorite brands and why I love their story as much as their products:

Warby Parker

My Warbys: Cora in Desert Tortoise and Crystal Plum, Chamberline in Whiskey Tortoise & Eugene in Rosewood Tortoise. www.warbyparker.com

“Every idea starts with a problem.” This is how the history of Warby Parker begins on their webpage. Those of us who own a pair of Warby Parker glasses know the story. It is told in 100 words on the cleaning cloth that comes with a fresh pair of Warbys. 

The story begins when one of the founders was on a backpacking trip while in grad school. He left his glasses on a plane and it was so expensive to buy a new pair of glasses, he didn’t bother replacing them. As part of a graduate program at the Wharton School of Business, the four founders started digging into the problem around why glasses are so expensive. They discovered the eyewear industry was controlled by one dominate company who kept prices exponentially high because they controlled the entire market. So, they put together a business plan and strategy to make and sell glasses at a reasonable cost, while still looking cool. 

The company was founded in 2010 by Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa and Jeffrey Raider. According to CNBC, Warby Parker raised another $75 million in funding last year and it brings the total funding to date to $300 million.

Away

My Away Luggage: The Large in Blush & The Bigger Carry On in Blush. www.awaytravel.com

Jen Rubio is a Warby Parker alum and in an interview with Bond Street, Jen explains how after she had left Warby Parker and All Saints, she was “doing a bit of soul searching and traveling. It was funny. This luggage concept was one of the things I’d been thinking about, and as I was coming home from Davos my luggage broke.” And the start of Away luggage was born. Out of a problem.

Away luggage has a built in charger for your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Conde Nast recently featured Jen and she commented that “Our community has come to associate Away with better travel, not just better luggage.” It’s a belief in a better quality of life that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Jen and Stephanie have been named to Forbes 30 under 30 and Inc. 30 under 30 list. In 2018, they were named the winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The Giving Keys

My Giving Keys: Vintage Skeleton (Purpose), Dainty (Strength), Classic (Brave) – these I keep a few of to give away to those who need a little nudge to be brave. www.thegivingkeys.com

The Giving Keys began not so much out of solving a problem, but more like setting something right. And as a result, a problem is being taken on one key at a time.

The story begins with the founder, Caitlin Crosby who is a singer-songwriter and actress. While she was on tour, Caitlin would wear an old hotel key as a necklace. She was sparked with an idea to engrave inspirational words onto old keys.

The seed of The Giving Keys was taking root, but it wasn’t until Caitlin met Rob and Cera that the idea began to flourish. The couple was sitting under an umbrella holding a sign that read Ugly, Broke and Hungry. Something clicked. Caitlin invited them to dinner where she later discovered Cera made jewelry. The rest is magic.

The Giving Keys webpage describes how they desire to take old, discarded, flawed keys and give them a fresh, renewed purpose. They passionately do the same for people. The company empowers and employs those who are affected by homelessness. People who wear the jewelry are encouraged to “pay it forward” and give their key to someone who crosses their path who needs the encouraging or inspirational word more than them.

The Giving Keys has employed many people transitioning out of homelessness. Their products and jewelry are carried in Nordstrom, Fred Segal, Kitson and in over 1200 stores in both the US and internationally.

The best things…

How many times have I been annoyed or inconvenienced and just kept right on going when there was something more right in front of me? The best things in life are often hidden. And what a better place to hide than inside of a problem? Every challenge, obstacle, problem or tragedy has an opportunity for something beautiful and powerful to emerge. We just have to find it.