Can You Name These Businesses Started by Women?

Beth Hendricks

Image: Wiki Commons by そらみみ

About This Quiz

Gwyneth has Goop and Rihanna founded Fenty Beauty. Kylie pioneered Kylie Cosmetics and Jessica Alba started The Honest Company, But, it was people--no, women--like Margaret Rudkin, who founded Pepperidge Farm, and Bette Nesmith Graham, who started Liquid Paper, who paved the way for female entrepreneurs.

In 2018, more than 12 million female-owned businesses were in existence in the United States. That's quite an increase from a half-century ago, when that number hovered around 400,000 businesses. And they're not all celebrity-owned; in fact, were founded by women who had the vision to make an impact or saw a need and filled it. People like single mother Ruth Fertel, who took out a mortgage to buy her business, going against the advice of everyone who knew her. And women like Maxine Clark, who saw a need while out at the mall with a 10-year-old. (You'll find out which businesses these women own later.) 

Female-owned businesses exist in all industries, from hospitality to high-tech. There are probably even some companies you purchase from that have a female founder or owner and you don't even realize it! So, that's where this quiz comes into play: See how many of these businesses started by women you know from the pictures and clues provided. From dining out to logging on, we'll bet you'll be surprised by some of these!

Which of these businesses did Anne Wojcicki co-found to give you insight into your ancestry, health and traits?

The company 23andme, which offers 125 reports to clients in exchange for a fee and a cheek swab, was co-founded by Wojcicki and Linda Avey in 2006. To date, the company has more than 10 million customers around the globe.

Which of these brands that is celebrity-founded started out as a simple lifestyle newsletter?

Gwyneth Paltrow is the force behind Goop, a newsletter turned full-fledged shopping experience. Paltrow's company name is a nickname designed to mean "nothing and anything," according to the actress and CEO.

Maybe it was love, maybe it was tech. Which of these Fortune 500 companies was started by a woman who wanted to email her husband?

At the time Sandy Lerner helped found Cisco, she and her husband were working in different buildings on the campus of Stanford University. A desire to be able to communicate between them led to this Fortune 500's founding. Lerner later went on to found the cosmetics company Urban Decay.

Home design is a big deal. For the founder of this company, a big deal to the tune of $2 billion. Which company is it?

Houzz is an online portal that marries the design portfolio style of Pinterest with the ability to connect with home professionals. Founded by Adi Tatarko, it is now estimated to be worth billions.

Make mine a double-double. Which fast food chain was co-founded by a woman, whose granddaughter is now at its helm?

In-N-Out Burger has a decidedly female history. Its co-founder, Esther Lavelle Snyder, handled all of the business' accounting in the early days. Esther's sole grandchild, Lynsi Lavelle Snyder, now runs the company and has an estimated net worth of $3 billion.

Which of these female-founded online dating platforms lets women take charge in the relationship?

Bumble, a spin-off of Tinder, which founder Whitney Wolfe also helped to create, differs from your typical online dating platform. Wolfe left Tinder to create Bumble and put the power of the dating experience--reaching out to chat--in the hands of its female users.

This clothing business started from a Cambridge apartment while its founder was attending Harvard. What company is it?

Katrina Lake was a student at Harvard when she started Stitch Fix, a subscription-based style service that ships wardrobe pieces to your door. Lake wanted to transform people's relationships with clothing by utilizing expert shoppers and evolving technology.

If you've ever done a presentation, you may have used this company's platform. Which of these female-founded businesses are we talking about?

SlideShare, which is now owned by LinkedIn, was co-founded in 2006 by Rashmi Sinha. Sinha was working toward a degree in a completely unrelated field when she discovered her passion for web-based technology. The sale of the company, roughly seven years after its founding, was reported to be around $120 million.

Which of these companies is behind man's best friend waiting by the mailbox for a package once a month?

Bark & Co., the company behind the treats-and-toys subscription box for pups known as BarkBox, was co-founded by Carly Strife. Today, Bark & Co. has expanded its business by offering its products in Target stores and elsewhere.

Which of these female-founded companies was sort of an afterthought of an online game that never materialized?

Flickr started as a photo-sharing component of an online gaming application being co-designed by Caterina Fake and her then-husband. The pair opted to eventually forgo the game and focus instead of the photo-sharing feature. That proved to be a smart move when they sold the company just three years later for more than $30 million.

The rise of computers has made this business, founded by a woman somewhat obsolete, but it was a household name for years. Which company is it?

Liquid Paper is the parent company of the product you may have used to "erase" an error on a piece of paper. The idea of "correction fluid" earned founder Bette Nesmith Graham nearly $48 million when she sold the company in the late 1970s.

Which of these high-end eateries was founded by a divorced single mother trying to put her children through college?

Against the advice of just about everyone, Ruth Fertel took out a mortage on her home to buy the Chris Steak House in New Orleans. Today, there are more than 100 locations of the renamed Ruth's Chris Steak House across the country.

Out of the mouths of babes: Which of these businesses was founded when a 10-year-old on a shopping trip couldn't get what she wanted?

Build-A-Bear Workshop, which now boasts hundreds of locations worldwide, was the vision of Maxine Clark. Clark got the idea for kids to create their personalized furry friends after taking a neighbor's daughter on a shopping trip.

With not one female founder, but two, which of these companies was created out of the founders' personal experiences?

At the hub of the Proactiv brand are two names you might recognize from another line: Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields. The pair created Proactiv after their own personal experiences of dealing with acne throughout their lives.

Which of these companies' history dates back to the 17th century and a hand-made cultivation process?

The story behind Kikkoman is one part soy sauce, one part harrowing tale of escape. The wife of a slain samurai, Shige Maki escaped to the area that is now Tokyo, where she learned how to brew and make her own soy sauce. The recipe continues to this day on store shelves everywhere.

Which of these companies started at the hands of a stay-at-home mom just trying to find snacks for her allergy-prone child?

Margaret Rudkin was a baker, perhaps more out of necessity than anything, as she tried to find preservative-free snacks for her son with food allergies. Rudkin developed the Pepperidge Farm company, named for her family's farm, and later sold it to Campbell's.

Which of these female-founded companies is a strong supporter of women ... literally?

Spanx was the brainchild of Sara Blakely, who said she got the idea for a more supportive undergarment for women after cutting the ends off pantyhose to get a smoother silhouette for herself under a dress. Today, Spanx are supporting--and supported by--women of all shapes and sizes.

Which of these companies, co-founded by a woman, gave a voice to the voiceless on cable television?

Sheila Johnson co-founded Black Entertainment Television with her then-husband to bring the "African-American voice to the cable world." She helped fund the venture by giving music lessons of her own. Today, the channel offers entertainment and news from an African-American perspective.

This company was one of the first to adopt an animal-friendly and eco-friendly mindset in its business practices. Which is it?

Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in a small store in England with an eco-friendly mindset. She encouraged her patrons to recycle their bottles, due in part to the fact she didn't have enough to go around at first. Today, The Body Shop has a sizable presence with 2,500 stores worldwide.

Which of these companies was founded on the "Netflix model" by Harvard classmates Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss?

Rent The Runway was designed to capitalize on the Netflix model of "renting and returning" goods (in this case, clothing). Rent The Runway allows individuals to expand their closets temporarily, a great fix for special occasions and events.

This celeb-founded company is an ode to the founder's Southern heritage and grandparents. Which one is it?

Actress Reese Witherspoon founded Draper James as an homage to her grandparents (for whom she named the business) and her Southern heritage. Her company features clothing, accessories and home goods with a Southern flair.

Which of these female-founded companies was created with the idea of giving neighbors and neighborhoods an online meeting place?

Nextdoor, a social platform designed as a space for neighbors to communicate and collaborate, was co-founded by Sarah Leary. In the process of helping build safer communities, Leary helped create a company now valued at more than $1 billion.

Creating one place where all women can freely shop was the impetus behind this woman-driven business. Which company is it?

Founded by Polina Veksler, Universal Standard set out to erase the shopping qualms many women face when trying to find the right styles and sizes for their body types. Veksler and co-founder Alexandra Waldman aptly named the company Universal Standard to represent their philosophy.

Which of these companies was started by a former Pizza Hut manager who was living paycheck to paycheck?

Nichole Mustard was working at Pizza Hut, barely making ends meet, when she decided to take a chance on her dream and help build Credit Karma. She relocated her family across the country to start Credit Karma, which is now worth more than $4 billion.

This former teacher took education seriously, founding a company that helps kids learn how to code and develop apps. What's its name?

Hopscotch is an online platform designed to help get kids interested in building games, and not just playing them. Created by former educator, Jocelyn Leavitt, the platform is geared toward students in fifth through eighth grades.

Actress Jessica Alba formed this company in 2012 in an effort to offer eco- and family-friend household products. What did she name it?

The Honest Company, which recently surpassed $1 billion in worth, provides nontoxic and ethically sourced goods for adults, babies and households. Alba has repurposed some of her company's good fortune by giving back and donating goods to those in need.

This company, which was brand new in 2017, was lauded for its makeup designed to accommodate more than 40 skin tones. What company are we talking about?

The name behind Fenty Beauty will be familiar to you because it's Rihanna, the mega superstar vocalist. Rihanna's company's approach to women of different skin tones (and now sizes, with her lingerie line) is all about being inclusive.

Which female-founded business started with an online presence only, but is now expanding to bricks-and-mortar locations?

Fabletics is the brainchild of actress Kate Hudson, a company that started as an all-online, subscription-based model. The brand now has more than a million subscription-based members and is opening retail locations across the globe.

Which of these brands might have its founder's fans to thank for its over-the-top success?

You might thank the Beyhive for this success of the Ivy Park brand, which was founded by singer Beyoncé. What started as a joint venture with Topshop has evolved to the singer having complete control of the brand she has said she hopes will help women understand that beauty is more than physical appearance.

Forget a "honey-do" list: Which of these companies was created by a woman to help alleviate the burden of household chores?

TaskRabbit was designed by Leah Busque to help connect tasks that needed doing with people who were willing to do them. Today, you can log on to the website and describe the job you have or register to become a Tasker.

North of the border, which of these Canadian bookstores boasts a woman founder and CEO?

Heather Reisman founded, and sits at the helm of, Canada's largest bookstore, Indigo. The company's website says that, "Bringing Indigo to life was the culmination of a lifelong passion for books and music created by booklovers, for booklovers."

Which of these fitness companies was born out of a one-hour workout plan built by its female founder?

Ellen Latham was merely creating a workout regime for her clients when the idea for a national chain was born. The first Orangetheory Fitness was opened in Fort Lauderdale (under a different name), and the company now has more than 1,000 locations.

Which of these companies was founded in a 22-year-old's bedroom, first selling on eBay?

Sophia Amoruso's business started in her bedroom, with her selling thrift shop finds to eager consumers on eBay. In 2012, Nastygal was one of Inc Magazine's "Fastest Growing Retailers." Today, the company has customers in 60 countries.

Two founders, two companies: Which of these brands was founded by two women who are also twins?

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of "Full House" fame launched The Row together in 2006, which was joined by their "Elizabeth and James" brand one year later. The twins' line focuses on sophisticated looks sold by a variety of high-end retailers.

Two former news producers created this company in 2012 to help millennials digest the news. What's it called?

Nobody has time to read all of the news, right? That was the idea behind The Skimm, which helps to break down the news of the day and deliver it in email form to subscribers. The company was founded by Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin.

Love DIY? Then, you might have run across which of these companies that focuses on online classes and DIY kits?

Aptly named Brit & Co., Brit Morin founded this DIY-inspired company designed to get customers' creative juices flowing. With a full slate of classes and DIY kits available for purchase, this is a space to act out all of your Pinterest fantasies.

Need to make a quick vinaigrette or find out the best time to fly to avoid delays? Which of these female-founded businesses can help?

Lifehacker calls itself the "ultimate authority on optimizing every aspect of your life." Thank goodness for that. It is the work of founder Gina Trapani, who wrote all of the site's blog articles herself until she was able to bring in some reinforcements.

The woman behind this business took it from a cheap domain name to a company worth $1.5 billion. What company is it?

Lynda Weinman co-founded Lynda.com with her husband in 1995. It was--and continues to be--a repository of videos and tutorials on tech-related subjects. It was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015 and is slowly being rebranded to LinkedIn Learning.

Which of these companies was created by its female founder to intentionally be a disruptor in the creative space?

Melanie Perkins created Canva with the goal of allowing the average Joe (or Josephine) to design their own high-quality, professional-looking graphics. Today, Canva, headquartered in Australia, is used by millions for everything from social media graphics to book covers.

One of the female founders behind this iconic brand created it to add more color to women's lives. What brand is it?

The colorful stylings of Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller, the founders behind Vera Bradley, were meant to inspire women to break out of the blacks, browns and blues most frequently available in stores. This company, headquartered in Indiana, was started with just $250.

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