March is a month packed with various celebrations, both popular and little-known, reverential and trivial. There's St. Patrick's Day, Holi, Pi Day, the Oscars — the list is long. One that tops the list for many around the globe — and one that's soon drawing to a close, is Women's History Month.
As a team made up mostly of women, and one that loves and swears by dozens products from brands led by women, the Shop TODAY team wanted to highlight a few of the ones who are truly glowing examples of brands walking the walk. (Bonus: We also highlight top deals and promotions from our favorite brands, some of which are ending this month.)
The world is changing and women have a powerful voice that needs to be included.
Deepa Gandhi, Co-Founder and COO, Dagne Dover
One example: The diverse senior team led by Kyle Leahy, the CEO of cult-favorite beauty brand Glossier. "Our leadership team is entirely comprised of women, all of whom are working mothers who bring an incredible diversity of background, experience, industries and perspective," she explains.
Leahy says that it's important for their leadership to reflect "the community we're trying to serve" — one that's predominantly women.
It's a philosophy that the leadership team at Dagne Dover, a lifestyle and accessory brand and another Shop TODAY editor-favorite, also puts into practice.
"All of the leadership roles at Dagne Dover are filled by women, meaning we are truly a female-led organization," says Jessy Dover, co-founder and CCO of the company. Co-founder and CEO Melissa Mash says leadership takes many forms: whether that's designing a bag for busy moms or offering employees more paid maternal leave.
Below, we list more about our favorite women-helmed brands. We encourage you to explore the offerings these noteworthy individuals and their businesses have to offer, whether it's this month or all year round.
Why celebrate? | WHM sales and deals | Beauty and skin care | Hair care | Clothing and accessories | Home and kitchen | Health and wellness | Travel and lifestyle | FAQs | Facts to know
Why should we celebrate Women's History Month?
There's a lot to celebrate now more than ever. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 Annual Business Survey, the number of U.S. women-owned employer businesses (firms that employ other people) went up by 6,861 in 2018 from the previous year, and these firms made up almost 20 percent of all American employer firms. And we only saw those numbers rise — by 2020, 21 percent (or 1.24 million) of employer businesses in the country were owned by women.
Despite all the promising statistics, there's still more ground to cover. For example, there's still room in the marketplace for businesses owned by women of color. According to the the Census Bureau and National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), white women make up more than 77 percent of all women-owned businesses.
In the third quarter of 2020, women in the U.S. earned 30 percent less than men — and that gap increased with age.
Furthermore, according to the Bureau's Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI), which looked at unemployment insurance wages of workers ages 35 to 44 for the third quarter of 2020, women in the U.S. earned 30 percent less than men — and that gap increased with age.
Stumped on what you can do? One of the easiest ways to support women leaders this month (and every month) is to look at which products you already purchase regularly and see if you can try buying from a woman-owned or -led business instead — and maybe even look at ones that are helmed by women of color.
To help, we gathered some of our favorite female-led brands' best sales and promotions before the month ends so you can take action now.
Women's History Month and March sales to shop
- Calpak: This current sale isn't tied to an event, but we think the AAPI- and woman-founded travel brand deserves praise: Save up to 40% off luggage, accessories, organizers and more.
- Dagne Dover: Bye Winter Sale. While not WHM-specific, Dagne Dover is a team-favorite, and you can now score up to 25% off backpacks, toiletry bags and more.
- Glossier: The all-female-led company not only offers quality products, but it's now offering 20% off all sets. Now's the time to stock up and see what all the love is about.
- Honeylove: Give 15%, Get 15%. Save 15% when you buy Honeylove's Give Back Bundle. Plus, an additional 15% will be donated to the Kind Campaign.
- Macy's: Get 30% off woman-owned (and other diverse) brands through March 31st to highlight its woman-owned brand partners.
- Nordstrom: Get upwards of 35% off woman-owned brands as part of the retailer's WHM initiative. (It also amplifies Black-owned brands by offering up to 80% off, partners with HERproject.)
- Skims: The Shop TODAY team (and our readers!) love shapewear, especially Skims. Get sizable sales on both "last chance" and newly on-sale items, from slimming bodysuits to bralettes.
Note: Can't get enough of sales on slimming garb? We continuously update our roundup of shapewear deals.
Woman-led beauty and skin care brands
Founder and CEO: Priscilla Tsai
We're huge fans of this brand's gentle skin care offerings, particularly because of AAPI founder Priscilla Tsai's own experience and struggles with her skin in the past.
"I've been using this Asian-owned skin care brand for years and have been blown away by every product I've tried — and I've tried a lot of them. Every product has been so gentle and hydrating on my sensitive skin. I love how transparent the brand is about its ingredients and formulations, so I can feel good about what I'm putting on my skin. The founder, Priscilla, started the company after struggling with her own skin, and she is passionate about breaking the cycle of 'aspirational beauty.'" — Dani Musacchio, associate social media editor
Founder and Executive Chairwoman: Emily Weiss
CEO: Kyle Leahy
"Glossier is building a high-performing culture [while also] building empathy and leading with kindness. Our leadership team embodies and drives these principles across our organization, while bringing thoughtfulness and integrity with the work that they do. Our company culture is a lot stronger as a result of having so many women leaders," Leahy tells Shop TODAY.
"Glossier has taken over the makeup industry and for good reasons! I never leave the house without my Balm Dotcom and my lips thank me." — Dani Musacchio, associate social media editor
Founder and CEO: Tisha Thompson
A Black-owned beauty brand that offers high-quality makeup that also happens to be inclusive and affordable — what's not to love?
"Not only is this the first Black-owned clean makeup brand to be at Sephora, but all of the products are under $30 to make beauty more affordable. The founder is a lovely woman who is brilliant and the products are fantastic. The lipsticks have a luxe feel to them at an affordable price point." — Vivien Moon, commerce editor
Founder: Sasha Plavsic
CEO: Lynda Berkowitz
Several of us beauty aficionados on the team have been raving about Allure winner Ilia for years, and not just because of the hype. Founder Sasha Plavsic started carving a niche for herself in beauty from the very first time she started looking into the ingredients in her products when she was suffering from cystic acne, she told Coco Eco.
"As someone who rarely wears makeup, I love using Ilia's skin tint on days when I feel like my skin needs a little help looking more uniform. It goes on smooth and covers small imperfections while still leaving me with a fresh-faced look. When I need a little more coverage, I use the brand's foundation, which isn't overly heavy, but still covers everything I need it to." — Emma Stessman, associate editor
RELATED REVIEW: Read more about how Ilia got one editor out of her work-from-home beauty slump.
Relevant: Your Skin Seen*
Founder and CEO: Nyakio Grieco
Nyakio Grieco's science-based skin care brand Relevant: Your Skin Seen may have only launched last year, but she's no slouch in the beauty industry. The entrepreneur and inclusive-beauty advocate, who also co-founded Thirteen Lune, an online beauty store dedicated to surfacing Black- and brown-founded brands, has 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. The brand also offers products that work for all skin tones and types, and doing so by working with a diverse group of chemists from top labs.
Grieco on how to support women business leaders in addition to shopping: "Be another woman's hype woman! The days of 'mean girl' are over, and being somebody's (or many somebody's) hype woman is in. Tell another woman who is trying her best and working so hard every day that you're rooting for her. Help other women starting businesses, share resources and advice," she tells Shop TODAY.
Sania's Brow Bar
Founder: Sania Vucetaj
"Sania knows exactly what she is doing when it comes to brows. She has spent her life dedicated to helping create services and products to help women get the best brows via tweezer — no waxing, threading or microblading. I've used all her products and my brows have seriously never looked better." — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
"I also can attest to how great Sania is. As someone who has thin brows that are sparse in certain areas, Sania's advice and products have helped my brows look more full and healthy than ever. Brow pencils usually make my brows look too filled in and unnatural, but her pencil creates such natural-looking results that you'd never know I had product in them." — Dani Musacchio, associate social media editor
Founder: Dr. Roshini Raj
Founder Dr. Roshini Raj has been a practicing gastroenterologist who's been studying the intersection between probiotics, beauty and wellness for the past 20 years. Tula really started when she noticed what a huge, positive impact probiotics had on her clients' skin.
"Dr. Roshini Raj is not only incredibly smart; she is also humble when it comes to creating skin care that is good from the inside out. Tula has become my new go-to, and I am already noticing the benefits of using probiotics on my skin." — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
More beauty and skin care brands we love
- Hero Cosmetics
- Fenty Beauty
- Olive & June
- Paris Laundry
- Paula's Choice
- Pink Moon
*Editor's Note: Grieco and Choi shared their expertise and experience in business leadership to answer our FAQs, but this did not influence our editorial decision to include their brands.
Woman-led hair care brands
Hair accessory brand Goody has already been proving its commitment to sustainability with its colorful yet planet-friendly offerings. Now, the brand is celebrating cultural heritage and creative self-expression by partnering with three multicultural women groups/artists, such as Reyna Noriega, to design new hair accessories from scratch.
"What I love about the concept is that the groups vary across ages/races/hair types/backgrounds and they got to design every piece from scratch — based on their needs and the needs of people like them ... in terms of functionality but also design." — Kamari Stewart, associate editor
CEO and Founder: Cassandra Morales Thurswell
As a woman who's had fine, thin hair my entire life, I fell in love with this rice protein bar for its affordability, sensitive skin-friendly ingredients, and how well it cleanses my scalp and volumizes my hair. But an equally big draw for me was Thurswell's commitment to sustainability with its plastic-free packaging.
It didn't take long for many of the Shop TODAY team to become fans of Kitsch's other hair products and accessories.
"These Kitsch heatless curlers revolutionized my morning routine. I used to spend hours curling my hair in the morning, and I can’t believe how long it took me to try these! This product takes less than five minutes to do and are so comfortable to sleep in. I put them in before bed, wake up, take them out and head into work. My long morning routine and hair damaging days are officially over!" — Alexa Arent, commerce coordinator
CEO and Founder: Tracee Ellis Ross
Pattern Beauty isn't just a "curly hair care brand" — the company prides itself in the acknowledging the diversity of curls and ringlets, coils and waves out there (just take a look at their website's lovingly put together curl guide). That care extends to their products, like the popular Blow Dryer.
"First of all, [The Blow Dryer] truly is STUNNING. It's a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to snap in the attachments but it only took me like 10 minutes or so to figure out. I like that it snaps in two ways so you're not stuck trying to get it into an exact slot.
"... The head supposedly doesn't get hot so you can hold it from there when there's an attachment on it. I put on the diffuser attachment and held it from the head at all three heat levels. Wouldn't you know — they were serious! It really does stay cool to the touch which I find is most helpful when my hair is flipped over and I'm trying to get the back dry or get the crown of my head. I also like that it's not super loud. I've used it at 1 in the morning in my bathroom and no one in my house was disturbed." — Kamari Stewart, associate editor
CEO and Founder: Jen Atkin
Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkins's uber-popular hair care brand blew up in the beauty industry for a reason: Her mission in launching the minimally packaged yet impeccably scented and formulated hair products was to help the "overstimulated consumer" find a brand they could connect with and relate to, Atkins says on the brand's website.
"I have incredibly thick hair and Ouai can tame it no problem. I've been using this shampoo for over three years and my hair is healthy, shiny and not weighed down by product. Overall 10/10 in my books." — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
RELATED REVIEW: See how Ouai's popular detox shampoo gave our curly-haired writer "new life."
More hair care brands we love
- Captain Blankenship
- Kosa Professionals
- Mielle Organics
- TPH by Taraji Henson
Woman-led fashion, apparel and accessories brands
Founder: Maria Dueñas Jacobs
Super Smalls's mission to bring the whimsy and carefree of childhood to the beauty and luxury of jewelry was something that immediately drew our eyes. And there was no one better to put this into action than founder Maria Dueñas Jacobs, who melded her skilled eye for ornate artisan objects with her passion for her kids and their sense of play.
"The brand has such a great selection of colorful jewelry for kids, but made in the most chic way. I can tell that they’re rethinking what play and dressing up means to young people and giving them options that are more quality than what I had when I was a kid. — Vivian Le, photo editor
Co-Founder and CEO: Noura Sakkijha
Mejuri is a woman-owned brand with a mission we can get behind: "We’re shifting the focus from traditional archetypes of gifting to buying jewelry for your damn self," CEO Noura Sakkijha says on their website. They're not just focused on empowering women to listen to their own needs — they're also partnering with companies to provide financial and educational resources to women and non-binary people in need.
"As someone who has a hard time spending money on jewelry, Mejuri is a company I am willing to splurge on. I wear my products 24/7 (even in the shower ... I know), and they withstand everything without tarnishing or irritating my skin. Plus the brand created their own Empowerment Fund, which I love to support." — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
Founder: Yael Aflalo
Yael Aflalo got her start retailoring vintage finds back in Los Angeles. In 2009, she took her technical skills and her passion for sustainability to the fashion industry with Reformation. To this day, that mission and her goal of producing high-quality goods are still driving the brand.
"Reformation is a brand I have been following and supporting for years. While their pieces are more expensive than other brands, the quality is amazing, and the company's values on sustainability always keep me coming back. Dresses I have had for years are still going strong and will always be staples." — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
Founder, Designer and Podiatrist: Caroline McCulloch
You know Australian footwear brand FRANKIE4's offers will be comfortable and supportive — it was founded by podiatrist and physiotherapist Caroline McCulloch. Her goal: For women to walk comfortably and with the support they need once and for all.
One of the ways the brand achieves this is with the Solo Hero Footbed, thoughtfully created by the founder herself. It features two cushioned layers designed to prevent heel pain (e.g., plantar fasciitis), arch pain and ball pain, all "with the aim to create a healthier foundation for the feet."
"This brand has made my commute by foot more comfortable and pain-free. Frankie4 has one of the best sneakers and footbed technology to protect your feet when you are standing for hours or walking a lot." — Jannely Espinal, SEO writer
More fashion and accessories brands we love
Woman-led home and kitchen brands
Co-Founder and Chief Mission Officer: Daina Trout
Imagine my delight as someone with chronic gut issues when I came across Health-Ade's Original Kombucha. I didn't have to find a Mother starter from my neighbor and ferment it for weeks to questionable results; instead, I could just go to the downstairs bodega and grab one of these bad boys and have my thirst quenched with something that is flavorful, refreshing and didn't mess with my finicky stomach.
"I'm not a soda person, but every so often I crave something bubbly and flavorful in the afternoon. And Health-Ade's kombucha really hits the spot. It's said to have benefits for your gut health, which I love, and there are so many good flavors. My favorites are the Ginger Lemon flavor (which has a slight kick from the ginger) and Pink Lady Apple." — Emma Stessman, associate editor
Founder and CEO: Denise Woodard
As someone who has a massive sweet tooth but is vegan and gluten-sensitive, it's nice to have an option where I don't have to pore over the ingredient list under a magnifying glass to see if there are any animal-derived ingredients or other allergens. The best part is (I kid you not) that the chocolate chip ones remind me of a certain other childhood brand taste-wise.
The chocolate chip on top is when, as someone who grew up with asthma and allergies as a kid, I discovered that Partake partners with organizations like No Kid Hungry to help give kids who are highly susceptible (particularly Black children) to certain food allergies access to safe foods like these.
Fly By Jing
Founder and CEO: Jing Gao
I'm a huge fan of Fly By Jing — I have been since my old foodie co-workers turned me onto it a couple of years ago. First it was the Sichuan Chili Crisp, but now their newer offerings like the Chili Crisp Vinaigrette, which brings possibly my favorite combination of flavors together (that's umami, tang and heat). But if I'm being honest, it's AAPI founder and CEO Jing Gao's unapologetically unique stamp on all her products, inspired by her hometown's eateries, that sealed the deal for me.
"I love love love this stuff and put it on everything, from eggs to stir fries. It takes the flavor up a notch and gives every dish that tingly kick that really takes it to the next level." — Emma Stessman, associate editor
Founder: Justina Blakeney
Artist and founder Justina Blakeney's unique designs start as creative doodles or sketches, which she then takes to her diverse team of designers and manufacturers to take them to their final form. Whether it's wallpaper, bedding, rugs or other fun pieces of décor, you can incorporate art in a practical way into your home.
"I've had my eye on several pieces from Jungalow's spring collection at Target. Justina Blakeney's aesthetic is incredibly cool and inspired, turning any living space into a place with vastly more life and energy." — Jess Bender, senior SEO editor
Prospect Jam Co.
Founder: Emily Hutton
Prospect Jam Co. was inspired by pastry chef and founder Emily Hutton's time at a local patisserie in Columbus, Ohio, where she grew to love (and perfected) the craft of preserving.
"Paddington Bear and I are kindred spirits in the sense that we're enamored by a great marmalade. Prospect Jam Co. makes brilliant flavors that transcend your idea of the sweet spread (strawberry paired with pink peppercorns! Rosé with hints of rose petal!), but my sentimental fave is their blood orange with notes of vanilla and rye." — Jess Bender, senior SEO editor
Owner: Kathryn Tomajan
Founder Kathryn Tromajan, a trained olive oil taster, has developed a company that puts the nuances of different varietals of California olives on center stage. The brand is committed to producing olive oil with as much care as wine makers make wine, and elevating its place on the American dinner table.
"Don't be fooled by its minimalist presentation; its flavor profile (a robust blend of frantic and maurino olives that delivers peppery notes that'll make you light up with glee with each bite) is anything but. It goes incredibly well with a whipped ricotta or atop savory oatmeal with a fried egg on top." — Jess Bender, senior SEO editor
Founder and CEO: Christina Stembel
Farmgirl Flowers is the only female-founded large-scale flower delivery business that is majority women-led. That means that women themselves are behind the product you're likely sending the mother, sister, aunt or other female loved one in your life.
Plus, their seasonal flowers are sourced from farm partners in the U.S., as well as Ecuador and Colombia. What's more, the company is fighting plastic waste by using upcycled burlap (aesthetic as it is eco-friendly) to wrap their bouquets in.
"Who needs to be wooed with red roses? I deeply appreciate Farmgirl Flowers's thoughtful approach to the classic bouquet, mixing an eclectic blend of florals in stunning seasonal hues. As an added bonus, their arrangements feature blooms that dry out beautifully." — Jess Bender, senior SEO editor
Co-Founder and Co-CEO: Shiza Shahid
We won't apologize for how much we love the Internet darling Our Place and its ubiquitous Always Pan. Yes, it's aesthetically appealing and always ready to be photographed. But its multifunctionality and built-in features and accessories were something that spoke even more deeply to us and the Shop TODAY audience.
"My Perfect Pot and Always Pan are basically the only pieces of cookware that I use when I'm making anything on the stove. I love that they're super durable and can be used to cook a range of dishes. I've had my Always Pan for about a year and a half now and it's in great shape and is still nonstick. As for the Perfect Pot, it really live up to its name. It's really big, so I can meal prep one-pot meals and have enough for the week. I also just keep both of them sitting on my stove because they're so stylish!" — Emma Stessman, associate editor
RELATED REVIEW: Read about the cast iron (read: oven-friendly) version of the brand's Always Pan.
More home and kitchen brands we love
Woman-led health and wellness brands
Founder and CEO: Holly Thaggard
Did you know that founder Holly Thaggard's SPF offerings started in Texas classrooms? The mom and former elementary school teacher knew how important it was to protect kids from the impact of UV rays, and making it easier to access products to do so. Thus, Supergoop! was born.
"Supergoop! is the best SPF in the game right now. I use their Glowscreen year-round instead of foundation, and it gives me great coverage AND protects me from those rays! Everyone is obsessed with this brand for a reason ... it's amazing!" — Camryn Privette, production coordinator
Founder: Maxine J. Chapman
Owner: Nicolette Remmel
Founders Maxine Chapmen and Nicolette Remmel call themselves the "Original Durtheads" because they bonded over both their love of spending time outdoors and their commitment to spending that time safely. You can still see this love of nature and the outdoors in their sunscreen products, combined with their passion for chemical-free skin care. Plus, all their products are coral reef-safe.
"This all-natural, reef-safe sunscreen nourishes and protects your skin and the planet. Their tinted version gives you the nicest sheer color, comes in a reusable/travel-friendly bamboo container, and you can even choose a tin based on what environmental charity you'd like to support." — Lauren Witonsky, assistant partnerships editor
Founder: Cindy Kang
Hey Dewy began from founder Cindy Kang's son's bloody nose. At the advice of her doctor, she got a humidifier to help, but she soon found that they were unwieldy and not easily transportable. Kang wanted to bring the skin-moisturizing, sinus-clearing benefits of humidifiers with her family on their travels, and that inspired her to launch the brand in 2019.
"Not only does it add a cool, modern flair to my desk decor, but it lasts an entire workday on a single charge. Several people have caught me shamelessly misting myself at my desk over the last month — honestly, though, who can resist a quick facial session?" — Jess Bender, senior SEO editor
RELATED REVIEW: Read more about Hey Dewy's founder, Cindy Kang, and her quest to develop a portable humidifier.
More health and wellness brands
Woman-led travel and lifestyle brands
Rifle Paper Co.
Co-Founder: Anna Bond
Evolving from hand-printed designs on her own wedding invitations to one of the industry's most unique stationary businesses, we love that Anna Bond isn't stopping there. "New décor for your home, colorful shoes for your feet ... we hope you’ll follow along with us as we dream up ideas to help make your world a little more colorful," Bond and her co-founder and husband says on their website.
"I'm a sucker for anything stationary, and Rifle Paper Co. makes journaling, writing letters and planning out my week so much more fun thanks to their whimsical designs and colorful prints." — Sierra Hoeger, editorial assistant
The Aloha Collection
Founders: Heather Aiu and Rachael Leina'ala
TODAY lifestyle reporter Kait Hanson was so inspired by The Aloha Collection co-founders' origin story that she wrote about them. And on top of that inspiration is a product that is equal parts stylish and practical. What's more: Aiu and Leina'ala, two native Hawaiians, donate 5 percent of profits to Hawai'i-based conservation organizations every year.
"Whether I'm packing for a trip, going to the beach or trying to navigate the black hole of my purse, the Aloha Collection splash proof pouches help me organized. I love having a functional option made better by knowing it was built from two women with a dream." — Kait Hanson, TODAY lifestyle reporter
RELATED REVIEW: Read Hanson's story on the unlikely and creative partnership between The Aloha Collection's co-founders (one a flight attendant, the other a banker), on TODAY.com's "Getting There" series.
Founders: Melissa Mash (CEO), Jessy Dover (CCO), Deepa Gandhi (COO)
Shop TODAY editors and our travel experts alike happily recommend Dagne Dover's functional bags. Travel pro Summer Hull, for example, tells us that she can vouch for the brand's neoprene diaper backpack for its thoughtfully designed, water-resistant material and that it has all the pockets for phones, laptops and more. Mom and sales editor Rebecca Brown even gave "new life" to hers, using it for travel.
But the biggest reason we included Dagne Dover on our list is not just because of how its team of founding women tailor its products to its audience's specific needs, but also because they go beyond that.
Co-Founder and CCO Jessy Dover on how her team supports women: "We practice supporting other women in our company by empowering them to make their own decisions without inducing fear, and by giving them the flexibility in their schedule. Recently one of our employees accepted her anniversary congratulations by saying that she’s so grateful to work for a company where her work and personal life flow so seamlessly together, and I was very proud to hear her say that, because it means we’ve achieved our goal in creating a work environment that considers women’s emotional well-being, need for balance, and their desire for career growth and development," she tells us.
Founder, President and CEO: Jennifer Rubio
There's a reason Away's hardside luggage tops our list of the best carry-on bags. Not only are our travel experts fans of it, but we have several TODAY.com editors who can also vouch for it. It isn't surprising when you take a look at the product's specs: It's not only stylish and minimally designed, but also sturdily built and comes with thoughtful features (like a TSA-approved lock and a helpful inner compression system).
Those details are informed and inspired by Rubio and her team's own love for travel. "When it comes to our luggage, the details matter, especially since they’re intentional and functional, to make the journey (from packing to unpacking and storing) seamless," the brand says on its site.
"I love my Away Carry-On!" — Emma Stessman, associate editor
"Second the Away Carry-On!" — Francesca Cocchi, branded partnerships editor
"I love my Away bag. It's really easy to pack in and organize." — Elena Nicolau, TODAY.com senior entertainment editor
More travel and lifestyle brands we love
*Editor's Note: Mash, Dover and Gandhi shared their expertise and experience in business leadership to answer our FAQs, but this did not influence our editorial decision to highlight Dagne Dover.
Questions about women in business, answered by women leaders
Why is important for women to be in leadership positions?
We spoke with Jin Soon Choi, celebrity nail artist founder of nontoxic nail brand JINsoon, Relevant's Grieco, and Dagne Dover's founding team of women; they all agree that having more women in leadership roles offer both tangible and intangible value.
"It has been proven that women-run businesses deliver higher revenues, equating to a return of more than twice as much dollar invested, and this in turn supports more hiring," Choi explains. And it's a positive cycle, she adds, because having more female leaders can translate to more lower-level employees having a woman to look up to.
There are double standards and double binds that we have to contend with and be cognizant of but must not get caught up in. The more we plow forward and refuse to get derailed by these challenges, the quicker they will dissipate and we can build a new paradigm.
Nyakio Grieco, Founder and CEO, Relevant
Mash, Dagne Dover's CEO and co-founder, says she sees women in leadership as a chance to redefine what leadership is, and that her team does so "by addressing the areas that we feel are most broken in mainstream corporate America." One problem area, according to Mash? Maternal leave policies in the U.S.
"[Dagne Dover's] policy is three months full paid leave and three additional months of paid transitional leave for all employees who are welcoming a new child into their homes, [so] parents have three months of dedicated time to their family, along with a flexible additional three months to be present for doctor’s appointments, classes and other moments."
Grieco also points out that female leadership is even more important for BIPOC women. "Young girls and aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those of color, can dream bigger and realize what is possible," she says. Plus, women can share "the knowledge and tenacity gained through overcoming systemic challenges to be critical and compassionate problem solvers and innovative thinkers."
What’s one of the biggest challenges women face when trying to go into leadership roles?
"The biggest challenge is not being taken seriously as a woman business owner. Despite [the fact] that I am involved in the cosmetics/beauty industry, a $50 billion business category, it [is a fact] not necessarily acknowledged by people outside the industry," Choi shares.
Grieco adds, "Often, it's the preconceived notions around how women lead or act when in top positions. There are double standards and double binds that we have to contend with and be cognizant of but must not get caught up in. The more we plow forward and refuse to get derailed by these challenges, the quicker they will dissipate and we can build a new paradigm."
Dagne Dover co-founder and COO Gandhi is well familiar with those challenges. She offers this piece of advice: "Always [put] yourself out there no matter what the opportunity is. ... Build your personal board of advisors so that they can support you, sponsor you and advocate for you as you work for that seat at the table."
Why is it important to support women-led brands year-round?
"Women have a lot of catching up to do to compensate for an ongoing history of gender wage gap and low representation in leadership roles," Choi explains. "Touting the contributions of women for just one month does not do enough to get us back on track to be equally represented in the workplace," she adds.
"We are building and leading companies all day, every day and all year round, so our work and leadership should be recognized and supported all year, full stop," Grieco echoes. "We have a lot of ground to cover and road blocks and outdated ways of thinking to undo, so the dedication to supporting and uplifting women is full-time, not confined to one month."
What are other ways people can support women in leadership?
"Be vocal about your support of a woman in leadership and show her the respect that would be shown if she were a man in the same leadership position," Choi urges.
In Dagne Dover's case, Mash says her team makes this practice a part of the company's initiatives.
"Our brand is an active supporter of women — whether helping fund businesses that we connect with through ifundwomen.com [or] helping women feel set up for success by donating Dagne products to [non-profit] Dress for Success. ... We believe in creating change, not just for those most similar to us, but in particular, for women who are the most disenfranchised," she explains.
What misconceptions do you encounter about women-owned or women-led businesses?
"It is often assumed that a women-owned business is a hobby or a part-time endeavor created to supplement her family's income, and regrettably, that misconception sometimes extends to business investors," Choi says.
Grieco adds that people often think "there is cattiness, competition or power struggles. When really, there is a lot of compassion, collaboration and purpose-driven action. We're here to lift up and champion each other."
More facts to know for Women's History Month
- Women's History Month can be traced back to New York City on March 8, 1857, when female textile workers marched in protest of unfair working conditions and unequal rights. Their terms included a shorter work day and decent wages. It was one of the first organized strikes by working women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Estée Lauder launched her cosmetics company in 1946 with her husband in New York City. Before then, she was selling skin care and makeup products in beauty salons, according to the brand's website.
- Over 67 percent of women-owned businesses are concentrated in the following five industries: healthcare and social assistance; professional, scientific and technical services; retail trade; other services; and administrative and support and waste management and remediation services, according to data from the NWBC and the Census Bureau.
- Those same sets of findings also revealed that there are approximately 1,418,000 women business owners who are not U.S. citizens, making up 11.5 percent of all women business owners.
Throughout the month of March, TODAY.com is celebrating women across generations who have made history and continue to move the conversation forward by breaking stigmas, sparking dialogue and inspiring the next generation.