Entrepreneurship is booming for women in the United States.
Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses a day in the United States between 2017 and 2018, according to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express Since 1972, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by nearly 3,000 percent. And in more good news, revenue is up (about 1.7% of women-owned firms generated sales of over $1 million in 2018) and the number of women of color starting businesses is on the rise.
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But what are women passionate about? We decided to take a look at which industries women are starting businesses in, using data we’ve collected through our 1000 Stories project.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 industries for U.S. women business owners, starting with the most popular:
1. Professional Service
Generally speaking, companies that are in the “professional services” industry are ones that are knowledge-based — meaning a woman brings her expertise, talent and/or special training to the business itself. Not only did we find that this was the most common industry for female founders, we also found a large number of women are starting businesses to help other women business owners, whether that’s executive recruiting firms or co-working spaces. For example, Felena Hanson launched Hera Hub, what she says is the first female-focused co-working space and business accelerator. Today, she has seven locations with more scheduled to open.
2. Healthcare, Wellness and Fitness
Health and clean living is clearly a big concern for a lot of women. Marje Isabelle and Anitha Rao felt issues pertaining to women in health are overlooked so they created companies to help solve problems regarding fertility and dementia. Many women see holes in the healthcare system and have launched companies that advocate for patients and help them find good health insurance. Kate Ryder, for example, created Maven Clinic, a New York telehealth startup that provides healthcare services to women via a mobile app.
3. Apparel and Accessories
Women are creating clothing brands that are made for comfort or personalized in some unique way. Aina Jain started a “butter soft” kids denim brand called Blu & Blue. Rebecca Smith created Recliner because she believed the sleepwear industry needed high end, quirky sleepwear. Romy Devack helps others find comfort in grief by creating jewelry in the loved one’s handwriting. Her shop emphasizes customer experience and understanding the beautiful story behind each personalization.
4. Consumer Goods
In a culture driven by consumerism, it is easy for women to see the opportunity in that. Illana Seid made the website Sunday Morning which sells home goods for the modern family. Love Travels created a space for artisans to sell their home goods around the world. Cordelia Smith sells handmade goods. She was able to expand her business, Formulary 55, by partnering with stores like Anthropolgie and Nordstrom.
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5. Personal Services
The “personal services” industry consists of companies that deliver services that assist people or enrich their lives in some way. Norine Hill started Mother Nation as a place for Native American women to heal from abuse and homelessness. Hill saw that mainstream services did not work for Native American women and so she opened her own non-profit. “We’ve helped 300 women in the past 2 years,” Hill said, “It’s not a high number because it’s not an assembly line.”
6. Marketing and PR
Going viral and launching unique campaigns via social media seems to be a trend for a lot of creative women. Jessica Rovello has her own firm called Arkadium which helps online publishing companies engage the masses. Her claim to fame is the viral ad campaign for “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999. She didn’t get much revenue from this success so she opened her own business to solve this problem.
7. Media and Publishing
There are plenty of women trying to get their voices heard in media and publishing. One woman started an indie publishing company that focuses on the power of female storytelling. Pia Guerrero founded Adios Barbie, a site is a place to talk about body image and engage in feminist conversation. Sherrell Dorsey created ThePLUG to share the stories and struggles of black tech entrepreneurs.
8. Education and Training
Women understand that a good education can change lives. After Scarlett Lewis’ son died in the Sandy Hook shooting, she wanted to find a way to prevent shootings from happening again. So, she started an educational program called Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, built around a social and emotional curriculum that scientifically reduces the risk of violent behavior. Through these tools she teaches students about choosing love over hate.
9. Arts and Entertainment
The beauty of art is all around us. Some talented women have established businesses based upon their passion, often empowering other women and girls in the process. Oreet Jehassi Schwartz created her own belly-dancing company called SharQui to empower women to embrace body positivity. She wasn’t the only one doing this too. Mona Tavakoli and Becky Gebhardt are on a mission to empower girls through their rock n’ roll camp. Their success allowed them to open three different camps to help people embrace their inner rock star.
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10. Food and Beverage
How doesn’t love delicious meals and drinks?. One of our Fearless over 50 women, Leslie Polizzotto, left insurance litigation behind to start up The Doughnut Project in New York City — it’s known for its “eveything doughnut.” Two Broadway actresses, Allyson Tolbert and Sarah R. Morgan, started a tour company that takes people around New York’s most popular food stops. And mother and daughter team Janie Clapp and Katherine Crow make 26,000 pound cakes a year through their Texas business, Janie’s Cakes.
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