Just 16% of venture-funded companies worldwide have at least one female founder. That’s why it’s so important to support not only female-run companies but also businesses that champion the rights of women everywhere. In this series, Vote With Your Wallet, we—along with our sister site Byrdie—curate shopping guides featuring women-owned, women-led businesses that support female causes. It’s time to make your money do more.
While shopping is often considered a personal indulgence, it can also be a way to give back and support the causes you care about. If you're looking for ways to support women, one of the simplest—and most enjoyable—ways to do so is by making mindful purchases from quality brands that stand for something you believe in. It's something we like to call voting with your wallet, which is the idea that where you spend your money matters and has the power to enact real, meaningful change.
Ahead, we've rounded up 10 inspiring women-led brands that support female causes. They're home décor brands, skincare companies, and small businesses with a purpose, whether that's partnering with artisans to boost local economies and provide a platform for them to sell their products or donating a percentage of profits to charitable causes. Each company was started by women with a vision and an entrepreneurial spirit who have found a way to use their platform and capital to raise others up by giving back. Learn a bit about each of these meaningful brands and their creators below, and shop a few of their products to start voting with your wallet today.
The Honest Company
Jessica Alba founded The Honest Company—a baby, beauty, and home goods brand—in 2011, inspired by the birth of her first child, Honor, and the idea that the items you and your family keep in your home should be nontoxic, effective, and affordable. In addition to being a female-led company, the brand has also made it its mission to give back to the community by donating time and resources to children and families in need. According to its website, it's donated over 14 million diapers, over two million family essentials, and spent over 14,200 hours volunteering. It works with charities like Baby2Baby, which provides essentials to low-income children in the U.S. and empowers families and the women who lead them.
Food52 is an e-commerce and community site complete with recipes and beautifully curated products from kitchenware to pantry goods. Founded by chef and author Amanda Hesser and food editor Merrill Stubbs, the company has made a name for itself in the foodie world and is a shining example of women finding white space in an industry they love and creating a successful brand to fill it with. In addition to fostering a supportive community, Food52 also gives back to charitable organizations often with a focus on hunger. This year, they're supporting Action Against Hunger, a humanitarian organization that takes steps to fight the causes and effects of hunger. By helping children get the nutrition they need, they help women support their families.
The Little Market
The Little Market is "a nonprofit founded by women to empower women," according to its website. Founded by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla, the brand works with artisan partners around the world to bring their beautiful handmade goods to a larger audience. Each purchase made from The Little Market generates meaningful income for the artisans they work with, empowering women to pursue their trade and support their families. The company also works to improve the quality of life for its artisan partners by providing literacy workshops, business training, and health programs.
Lifestyle brand Ban.dō was founded by Jen Gotch back in 2008. What started as a one-of-a-kind hair accessories company transformed into a thriving brand offering everything from quirky planners and phone cases to fun accessories and apparel. In addition to being a fresh, eccentric brand, ban.dō also supports women through its ongoing free advice series known as Honor Roll. The series includes quick, helpful videos full of advice on things like how to start a business, how to prevent yourself from burning out, and how to hire employees.
You'd be hard-pressed to show up at the gym or the office and not see at least one colorful S'well water bottle in sight. Sarah Kauss founded the successful company in 2010 with the mission of eliminating plastic water bottles. By combining fashion with function, Kauss was able to take major steps toward her ambitious goal and is now at the helm of the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the U.S. Kauss is an inspiration to other women in her own right, but she's also using her platform to make the world a better place for people everywhere. S'well is a partner of UNICEF USA working to provide clean and safe water to countries in need. The brand also supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and (RED), which works to raise awareness and funds to eliminate HIV/AIDs—the leading cause of death among women worldwide.
Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley founded The Citizenry with dreams of creating a business that would empower artisans around the world and make a positive impact. What started as a college friendship led to a business partnership founded on their mutual love of crafted home goods discovered while traveling. Their company curates gorgeous home décor pieces from around the world in places like Chile, Mali, Morocco, Ireland, Mexico, Uganda, and Argentina. By providing fair wages, positive working environments, and grants for their artisan partners—many of whom are women—they're able to support small businesses around the world.
Debbie Sterling is the engineer behind GoldieBlox, a children's media company that challenges gender stereotypes with the world's first girl engineer character. The global franchise includes videos, animations, books, apps, curriculum, and merchandise meant to empower young girls with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles. Since starting the company, Sterling has been recognized on Fast Company's list of Most Innovative Companies, Fortune's 40 Under 40, and the National Women's History Museum's "Living Legacy" award for inspiring girls.
Armadillo & Co
Armadillo & Co. is a chic rug brand created by Jodie Fried and Sally Pottharst who both have strong ties to women's empowerment and social responsibility. Fried's first business employed women in India to create textiles using traditional techniques, and while Pottharst has a background in finance, she spent years working in India, creating relationships with weavers and artisans. With A&Co., the pair sells elegant handmade rugs made with sustainable methods and natural fibers. In line with their commitment to giving back, they also created a not-for-profit organization called The Armadillo & Co Foundation with the mission of improving the lives of underprivileged communities. Five dollars from every product sold from A&Co. is contributed to the charity, so you know your purchase is making a direct positive impact. Additionally, they launched a scholarship program in partnership with a local school in India that many of their artisan's children attend. It provides funds for things like supplies, uniforms, and salaries for school.
Price available upon request.
Self-made billionaire Sara Blakely built her empire with the shapewear company Spanx. Now, she's using her platform and capital to invest in other women with dreams of starting their own businesses. In 2006 she created the Sara Blakely Foundation to donate millions to charities that empower underserved women and girls. Then, in 2013, she signed the Melinda and Bill Gates' and Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge, committing to give at least half of her wealth to charity. She also started a program called Leg-UP, in which the brand features products made by female entrepreneurs in their catalog for free. Blakely has used her influence to send women to college, fund entrepreneurial programs in girls' schools, and donate one million dollars to Oprah's Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa.
International makeup artist Munemi Imai founded MŪN after an illness and subsequent shift in her diet caused her to realize the impact of the ingredients used in and on the body. She created a 100% natural, organic, vegan, and sustainably sourced skincare line. Along with creating beautiful and effective skincare products, the brand partners with a union of women's co-operatives in Morocco who produce the argan, prickly pear seed, and olive oils used in MŪN products. Profits from the co-ops support a social fund that allows tutors to teach the women how to read and write, pay for scholarships for their children to go to college, and contribute to a health fund that covers healthcare costs. It also empowers the women to gain some independence in a society traditionally dominated by men, according to MŪN's website.
The Portion of VC-Backed Startups Founded by Women Stays Stubbornly Stagnant. TechCrunch. January 15, 2018.