Activist Marian Wright Edelman famously said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” As we celebrate Women’s History Month, here is a look at some game-changing female entrepreneurs and the impact they’ve made on the business world.
Bridget “Biddy” Mason (1818 -1891).
Mason in 1866 bought her first piece of land in Los Angeles when she was 48 years old. Eleven years before, she had been a slave. At the end of her life, the midwife and nurse had a net worth of $300,000, which would be roughly $6 million in 2018.
Louise Blanchard Bethune (1856-1913).
Bethune was the first female professional architect in the United States. She founded the firm Bethune, Bethune & Fuchs with her husband. Bethune is responsible for the design of the historic Lafayette Hotel in Buffalo, N.Y.
Madam CJ Walker (1867-1919).
When Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was 20 years old, she lost her husband. The young widow moved from Louisiana to St. Louis to earn a living as a laundress. Inspired by her search for a treatment for her hair loss, she created a series of haircare products for black women: the “Walker System.” The success of her products led to her becoming the first black female millionaire in America. She was a lauded speaker and philanthropist and a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
Yoshiko Shinohara (1934-Present).
The 82-year-old executive is Japan’s first female self-made billionaire. After her divorce in the early 1970s, Shinohara launched temp agency Tempstaff out of her apartment. Today, the business employs nearly 5,000 people all over the world and brings in nearly $3 billion in annual sales.
Martha Stewart (1941-Present).
The domestic diva built an empire on decorating and home entertaining. The former model and stockbroker is the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which encompasses her bestselling books, magazine and television series. She also oversees the 6-year-old American Made Awards, which seeks to highlight the best small businesses based in the U.S. that embody a DIY ethos.