A woman in an apron stands in the doorway of a shop. Through the door and a floor-to-ceiling window can be seen wall-mounted bikes, wooden tables and chairs, decorative plants and a blackboard menu.
More than one in five small businesses in the United States are women-owned. — Getty Images/Cecilie_Arcurs

Women are accounting for a growing number of small business owners in the United States. Data from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Business Survey shows there are 1.2 million women-owned firms across the country — nearly 21% of all small businesses — and those numbers are expected to continue growing.

While women founders have historically faced obstacles in the market, more organizations, certification and funding programs and women-focused business awards are emerging to support their continued success. Here are seven women-founded startups that are taking the world by storm.

Beautycounter

In 2013, Gregg Renfrew founded Beautycounter after she realized the United States only bans 30 ingredients from personal care products, while places like the EU ban 1,400. Beautycounter not only offers skin care products and makeup with clean ingredients, but it is also working to change legislation and guidelines so the personal care industry will utilize safer, nontoxic ingredients in its products.

[Read more: Funding Options for Women-Owned Businesses]

Coffee Meets Bagel

Arum Kang came up with the idea of the dating and social networking service Coffee Meets Bagel when she was a student at Harvard University. She launched the service with the assistance of her two sisters, Dawoon and Soo, in 2012, and it became an instant success and fulfilled a privacy need in the market. The app focuses on connecting users with their ideal match based on algorithms and mutual preferences instead of swiping. Today, Coffee Meets Bagel has a $150 million net worth.

The Cosmos

Cassandra Lam and Karen Mok, the co-founders of The Cosmos, dreamed of a safe place where Asian women could gather together virtually and in person. In 2017, they created a Medium post detailing their wish and gathered 20 women to meet. Today, The Cosmos events attract over 10,000 Asian women across its communities and curate original content for thousands of readers. Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lam and Mok pride themselves on being able to continue creating opportunities for Asian women “to care for themselves, their community and their world.”

For Days prides itself on being a sustainable source of clothing that limits waste.

Daily Harvest

As people work to take better care of themselves, many have asked for quicker, easier ways to receive their daily vitamins and minerals. Enter Daily Harvest, a subscription-based meal delivery service providing meals and smoothie ingredients made with organic fruits and vegetables. Daily Harvest was founded in 2015 by Rachel Drori when she found her nutrition lacking as she was unable to cook nutritious meals for herself. The business has quickly grown into one of the leading food delivery service companies in the United States.

[Read more: How to Get Certified as a Woman-Owned Business]

For Days

For Days prides itself on being a sustainable source of clothing that limits waste. Co-founders Kristy Caylor and Mary Saunders were appalled by the amount of waste humans use to make clothing. They created For Days to bring customers a sustainable, high-quality clothing choice, making sure each of their products is 100% recyclable. For Days even has a swap program where customers can exchange their clothing for a set price. The clothing sent back is then recycled, promoting a low-waste, closed-loop system.

Goodr

Jasmine Crowe founded the food waste management platform Goodr in 2017. During the early stages of her company, Crowe realized that billions of pounds of food worth over $200 billion dollars are wasted every year in the United States. She recognized that food waste could be limited if proper logistics were put in place. Goodr utilizes a secure platform to track and manage a company or nonprofit’s excess food and organic waste. Its analytics tools also allow companies to keep track of their carbon footprint and impact on their communities.

Tia

Tia is a membership-based health and wellness app that offers women gynecological, primary and mental health care services. Carolyn Witte and Felicity Yost co-founded the company based on their own experiences with the health care system. They each wanted better circumstances when it came to women’s health and believed all women should have access to high-quality health care, no matter their situation or background. Tia has recently scaled by opening multiple brick-and-mortar locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

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Published November 19, 2021