24 Women Our Favorite Entrepreneurs Want You To Know

International Women's Day was started to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world. This year, we asked some of our favorite entrepreneurs about the women they want to celebrate.

The 24 women ahead aren't only businesswomen but founders — meaning they've put a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money into making their ideas a reality. Along the way, they have all received support from other women — whether it's long-time friends or colleagues who understand the difficulties of starting a company, or dream mentors whose words have inspired them from afar.

Read on to see what they've learned from the women they admire.

In honor of International Women’s Day, Refinery29 is asking women to pay-it-forward by endorsing a female colleague or expert in their field. Head here to discover inspiring women across all the categories R29 covers.

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THE ENTREPRENEUR: Lindsey Andrews, Co-founder & Co-CEO, Minibar Delivery

SHOUTING OUT: Amanda Freeman, Founder & CEO, SLT

"While there are a ton of inspiring female entrepreneurs (like my co-founder, Lara Crystal), one founder that constantly impresses me with all she can accomplish is Amanda Freeman, the founder and CEO of SLT. She has taken SLT and expanded it to 20 locations, building a great brand and even better business — all while having two children.

"Not only that, Amanda is a single mom juggling it all. (On the day she gave birth, she still spoke at a conference!) On top of that, she has an amazing sense of humor."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Jennie Baik, Co-founder & CEO, Orchard Mile

SHOUTING OUT: Amy Errett, Founder & CEO, Madison Reed

"One of entrepreneurs I most admire is Amy Errett, the founder and CEO of the next-gen hair color company Madison Reed. I've been to the Madison Reed Color Bar in NYC many times, and I love how she has bravely taken on an industry populated with behemoths, innovating with technology and best-in-class customer service.

"[Amy] named her company after her daughter and created [the company] for her wife as an act of love, because she was worried about potentially dangerous chemicals in hair color. The act of making business so personal reminds me of my mother, who also was an entrepreneur and named a line of jewelry after me. Having a family connection really grounds a company with purpose, which is missing from so many companies today."

"I once read that Amy gets 1,000 emails a day, reads every single consumer interaction, and picks five customers that she writes to each Saturday. I also struggle with an overflowing inbox and am copied on every single email that goes to Orchard Mile's concierge address, so it's nice to know that such a successful entrepreneur like Amy also values individual care, and continues the rituals that keep her connected to the people who support her most — her customers."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Bianca Cabán, Managing Partner, Taino Capital & Founding Board Member, AccessLatina

SHOUTING OUT: Francesca Kennedy, Founder, Ix Style

"One of my favorite entrepreneurs is Francesca Kennedy, the founder of Ix Style, an e-commerce fashion brand and social venture that sells bags, jewelry, and huarache sandals handmade by more than 800 female artisans from communities across Guatemala. Francesca was inspired to start Ix Style after seeing Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (once considered the eighth world wonder), where her grandparents lived and where she was baptized and swam as a child, overrun with blue green algae in 2011. She was alarmed and incited to act at the thought that a new generation of children would be collecting the contaminated water to drink.

"For every purchase, Ix Style donates 15% of its profit to help provide clean drinking water for children in Guatemala. Francesca and I met through an entrepreneurial community of change-makers in NYC called Breakout, and in 2015, I recruited her to apply to a nonprofit business accelerator I was launching at the time called AccessLatina, which provided access to capital, networks, and business training to Latina-owned businesses in mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. We awarded Francesca a grant for her socially innovative and well-executed business model, which is truly an inspiration and a shining example of how entrepreneurship can be used to build wealth and change the world."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Natasha Case, Co-founder & CEO, Coolhaus

SHOUTING OUT: Heather Hasson & Trina Spear, Co-founders, Figs

"Two entrepreneurs I would like to honor are Heather Hasson and Trina Spear of Figs. I love the hustle and confidence in their vision. They have a really awesome work dynamic and are fearless conquerors of the competition.

"We have really fun, transparent conversations about business, and Heather and Trina are supportive and helpful where they can be. We have even done a cool partnership event where they served our balsamic fig ice cream to their customers because of the word play and delicious flavor!"
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Carly de Castro, Co-founder, Pressed Juicery

SHOUTING OUT: Jane Wurwand, Founder, Dermalogica; & Hannah Skvarla, Co-founder, The Little Market

"This year, I am lucky enough to be spending International Women's Day with quite a few female entrepreneurs. Two in particular inspire me greatly because of their dedication to empowering women.

"Jane Wurwand founded Dermalogica, which revolutionized skincare as an industry by arming thousands of skin therapists with the skills to start their own businesses. She believes this is where impactful change occurs because it leads to further job creation. Jane is using her platform to invest in women entrepreneurs all over the world, educating them to become financially independent leaders and reminding us that every small business counts.

"The other woman who inspires me is one of my close friends, Hannah Skvarla, co-founder of nonprofit The Little Market. Hannah dreams big, and she has created a company that partners with women artisans all over the world, making their products easily available through one beautiful online marketplace. It is dedicated to empowering female artisans across the globe and helping them generate income for their families."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Lara Crystal, Co-founder & Co-CEO, Minibar Delivery

SHOUTING OUT: Jenn Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway

"My favorite entrepreneur (aside from my own partner!) is my former boss, Jenn Hyman, CEO of Rent the Runway. She has built an incredible business and does it with a focus on the values that she lives by — family and happiness.

"From the early days, core values were always a focus, and every year she gives away trips for employees (and a plus one) that most exemplify the company's core values. Jenn also always makes time to help and support other entrepreneurs or employees, especially other women."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Jolene Delisle, Founder & Creative Director, The Working Assembly

SHOUTING OUT: Diane Von Furstenberg, Founder, DVF

"I am so fortunate that my day-to-day work involves collaborating with amazing female founders whom I respect and admire. I get to see their passion and drive for the business firsthand, and our job at The Working Assembly is to help amplify their work in any way we can.

"A huge inspiration for me is a female entrepreneur I've yet to meet — Diane Von Furstenberg. I didn't know much about Diane beyond her beautiful clothing line and her gorgeous green Bentley (which I would often see rolling by when I was at an earlier job) until last spring, when I downloaded her book The Woman I Wanted to Be on a whim. I was about eight months pregnant at the time and feeling stressed and unsure about how I was going to grow my business along with growing my baby. I found myself listening to her voice on my commute in an almost meditative state.

"When Diane talked about balancing motherhood with work, being self-sufficient, and persevering through rejection, I felt like she was speaking directly to me somehow, giving me a much-needed, daily pep talk and telling me to keep going: 'Don't blame your parents; don't blame your boyfriend; don't blame the weather. Accept the reality, embrace the challenge, and deal with it. Be in charge of your own life. Turn negatives into positives and be proud to be a woman.' Thank you, Diane! You made me proud to be a woman then, and now."
Photo by Wiley Brown.
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Cynthia Daniels, Founder, Memphis Black Restaurant Week & Chief Event Strategist, Cynthia Daniels and Co.

SHOUTING OUT: Fran Mosley, Chef & Owner, HM Dessert Lounge

"I was inspired to create Memphis Black Restaurant Week while working as the social media manager for Chef Fran Mosley, the chef and owner of HM Dessert Lounge in Memphis, TN. Chef Fran's soul, grit, and grind is so evident in her food, and more people needed to experience it. She's been a huge supporter from the start, opening her kitchen so that more people can support Black-owned restaurants. As a Memphis native, Chef Fran carries the best qualities of any Memphian — she's a dreamer and a doer and pours her soul into her work, continuing to inspire me every day."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Sutian Dong, Partner, Female Founders Fund

SHOUTING OUT: Natalie Mackey, Co-founder & CEO, Winky Lux

"My nomination is Natalie Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Winky Lux. I love Natalie's business because it has turned the traditional beauty industry on its head. Winky Lux is giving consumers beauty that is always fresh and always evolving by revolutionizing the typical product innovation and production cycle. Winky enables women to buy exactly what they want to express their beauty as they see themselves. There's always something new launching, like their coffee-scented makeup line (which I love), and old favorites like their Flower Balm (with a real flower inside)."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Anu Duggal​, Founding Partner, Female Founders Fund

SHOUTING OUT: Michelle Kennedy, CEO, Peanut

"It's incredibly exciting to see what an engaged community Michelle Kennedy has built over a very short time. She is reinventing the experience of modern motherhood by creating a beautiful digital experience built for the millennial mom, offering both social connection and incredibly valuable user-generated content and resources. Michelle embodies the brand as a new mom with a background in building social products and has built an authentic brand that is very powerful."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Nely Galán, Founder, The Adelante Movement

SHOUTING OUT: Kathy Cano-Murillo, Founder, Crafty Chica; Candy Ramirez, Baker, Candy Queen Bee Baker; Sherrijon Gaspard, Entrepreneur, Simply Vino; Tara Winter, Owner, Full Circle Fashion L.A.

"My favorite entrepreneurs are women like Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica, who is a former newspaper writer, now makes great Latino iconic crafts, and has built a line and brand. Candy Ramirez, a baker from Arizona, built her own baking platform — Candy Queen Bee Baker — while raising two kids as a single mom. Sherrijon Gaspard, an African-American airline stewardess turned winemaker entrepreneur with her line Simply Vino. Tara Winter is a high-school student turned eBay supernova with her online store Full Circle Fashion L.A.

"These are all women that started a side hustle while having day jobs. They realized entrepreneurship doesn't have to be grandiose. One step at a time, they got on the runway and now work hard every day to become financially self-reliant and create a rich life in every way. They understand that there is no true empowerment until you have your own money, and until you think and act like a self-made woman."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Tyler Haney, Founder & CEO, Outdoor Voices

SHOUTING OUT: Michelle Obama, Lawyer & 44th First Lady

"Not many people refer to Michelle Obama as an entrepreneur, but she held one of the most important jobs in the country and raised the bar on what that role can accomplish. She ignited a national conversation about wellness and brought together a community around activity by making it fun and exciting — a First Lady who danced on TV with Ellen DeGeneres! As a leader, she is funny, approachable, and human, and that's something and that's something I really admire."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Dr. Ximena Hartsock, Co-founder & President, Phone2Action

SHOUTING OUT: Gregg Renfrew, Founder, Beautycounter & Kristine Tompkins, Former CEO, Patagonia

"I am a big fan of Gregg Renfrew, a mom who founded Beautycounter to create beauty products that are safe for women. She established the 'Never List', a list of 1,500 potentially harmful ingredients the company avoids using in its products. She started building her business as a college student and is always looking for ways to create a business with a triple bottom line: environment, financial and social.

"Another woman who inspires me is Kristine Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia. She moved to the Chilean Patagonia where I am from years ago to create a large wilderness conservation area with her husband (the founder of North Face). She is one of the world's biggest champions of nature and recently made the largest land donation by a private citizen to a government in history when she donated the Patagonia land to the Government of Chile.

"These two women have built businesses that make the world better. They lead with the heart."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Leila Janah, Founder & CEO, Samasource & LXMI; Author, Give Work

SHOUTING OUT: Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO, Acumen Fund; Sali Christeson, Co-founder & CEO, Argent Workwear, Rosario Dawson & Abrima Erwiah, Co-founders, Studio189

"I love Jacqueline Novogratz's pioneering work in the field of impact investing running the Acumen Fund. She has inspired me and legions of other social entrepreneurs around the world. (And has kick-ass personal style — often impact-sourced from low-income women, to boot.)

"I also love Argent Workwear's Sali Christeson for her savvy aesthetic and chic brand, and Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah's gorgeous made-in-Ghana line at Studio189. I'm a huge fan of their farm-to-runway, ethically sourced garments."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Necole Kane, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, xoNecole.com

SHOUTING OUT: Myleik Teele, Owner, curlBOX

"Choosing one entrepreneur was a hard one since there are so many amazing boss-women I look up to, but if I had to choose, I would say my favorite entrepreneur is Myleik Teele. She is the owner of curlBOX, a monthly subscription service for natural haircare products. Although she has a profitable business, the real glory for me as an entrepreneur has been her transparency, as well as the business advice she dishes in her My Taught You podcast, which I'm a huge fan of. She became a mentor in my head through some of my darkest hours in business, and listening to her gave me an added push as well as the knowledge I needed to take my business to the next level.

"As a Black woman, entrepreneurship can feel isolating. Sometimes it's hard to find a support system of women who can guide you through huge business moments like mergers and acquisitions or even securing an investor. Myleik is a serial entrepreneur and doesn't hoard the information she knows and the lessons she has learned from creating two successful companies. I always joke around and call her the 'Oprah for entrepreneurs' because she really is breeding and birthing a new generation of young bosses through her valuable advice, resources, and retreats."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Ilana Kruger, Co-founder, Dripkit

SHOUTING OUT: Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

"Sara Blakely, the visionary behind the Spanx Empire, has had a major influence on me. Sara's persistence and unwavering confidence in her ideas are inspiring to me, especially as a first-time founder in the daunting ecosystem of startups. If she had listened to the haters, we may not have that perfect waist-trimming, confidence-boosting, 'I've never felt sexier' under-garment."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Denise Lee, Founder & CEO, Alala

SHOUTING OUT: Marcia Kilgore, Founder, Bliss Spa & Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

"Two women I really admire are Marcia Kilgore the founder of Bliss Spa and Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Marcia and Sara started their businesses during a time when terms such as venture capital, direct-to-consumer, fundraising, and valuations were not part of everyday vernacular. They both forged into their industries relying on the strength of their products and services, sheer drive to succeed, and learning to know their customer inside and out.

"They've inspired me to remember what's truly important in building a business: making a quality product for the customer you know and care about — sales and success will follow. That is a lesson I live by for Alala."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Emma McIlroy, Co-founder & CEO, Wildfang

SHOUTING OUT: Liz Valentine, Co-founder & CEO, Swift

"I really admire Liz Valentine, the co-founder and CEO of Swift. Swift is an amazing strategic creative agency here in Portland that works with clients like Google and Nike, and was recently acquired by WPP. I admire Liz because she is a visionary and a leader. She has built something that not only delivers great work, but a great culture.

"Liz really looks after her people, and they love to work there. In addition to that, she is one of the rawest, most real, and transparent leaders I've ever met. Liz has always made herself available for support and advice and doesn't bullshit me, or try to make me feel small. That frankness is rare in our industry. I love how she is prepared to work with young female entrepreneurs following in her footsteps, to lift them up and make them better.

"Not only did she build a world-class, multimillion-dollar creative agency and get acquired, she also managed to have two kids and build a family. Her focus on family and its importance has meant that Swift is now seen as a leader in maternity care and allowing working mums to have a work-life balance. Her legacy will be one of culture and mentorship. She lifts other people up, particularly women, and uses her platform to create change."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Amber Scott, Founder & Executive Director, Leap Year

SHOUTING OUT: Lisa Price, Founder, Carol's Daughter

"As a social entrepreneur, I admire many talented and impactful entrepreneurs. I truly admire and respect the legacy of Lisa Price and her company Carol's Daughter. Her work to create a high-quality line of natural hair products not only led to incredible financial growth, but it helped inspire a generation of women to embrace their natural beauty."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Ilana Stern, Founder & CEO, Weddington Way

SHOUTING OUT: Karla Gallardo, Founder & CEO, Cuyana

"Karla Gallardo is a visionary leader who has built a powerhouse team of women raising the bar with ethically sourced, thoughtfully designed, affordable luxury apparel and accessories.

"Karla and I met on a trip to Southeast Asia the summer before we started together at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She was whip-smart and her infectious laughter was undeniable. Soon after, we were living together in Palo Alto brainstorming business ideas with markers on our mirrors. (We didn’t have whiteboards!)

"It has been amazing to watch her evolve from a business school tinkerer to a CEO with a crystal-clear vision. What rises to the top is Karla's incredible support of other female entrepreneurs. Despite her busy schedule packed with travel, business-altering decisions, and parenting, Karla is unfailingly willing to support the progression of other women. That makes her an entrepreneur I not only love, but look up to."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Koel Thomae, Co-founder, Noosa Yoghurt

SHOUTING OUT: Kristy Lewis, Co-founder and CEO, Quinn Snacks

"My favorite entrepreneur is Kristy Lewis, the co-founder and CEO of Quinn Snacks. I love the commitment Kristy has to redefining the snack category with her farm-to-bag concept. She has doubled down on transparency in her supply chain, which is a big investment for a young company. Also important to note, her products are bloody delicious. We always have a bag of Quinn Touch of Honey pretzels in our pantry!

"I have yet to meet anyone who smiles more than Kristy, but behind that genuine, smiling exterior is pure determination to succeed. I know how hard she is hustling as a CEO, wife, and mom of three boys. The snack aisle is wildly competitive but if anyone is going to create a revolution in this category my bet is on Kristy."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Ilse Valfre, Founder & Illustrator, Valfré

SHOUTING OUT: Lisa Frank, Founder, Lisa Frank Incorporated

"Lisa Frank! She started out in her parents' garage and grew the company into a multimillion-dollar business by bringing her art to life by way of consumer products. Frank was a pioneer in this space and has inspired me deeply to do the same thing with Valfré. Her dedication to her art and never-give-up attitude have been a guiding light, and her work continues to motivate me to this day."
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Sanura Williams, Founder, My Lit Box

SHOUTING OUT: Myleik Teele, Founder, curlBOX

"When I decided to start a subscription box of my own, I instantly knew who to look to for inspiration: Myleik Teele of curlBOX. As a subscriber to curlBOX myself, I knew firsthand the experience of receiving this amazing product in the mail each month. It showcased her attention to detail, and I wanted to create that same magic with books.

"Even more than her entrepreneurial spirit, I appreciate how Myleik willingly gives so much of her knowledge and expertise. She encourages others to chase their dreams by doing the work and building resilience."
Photo: Sasha Isreal Photography.
THE ENTREPRENEUR: Karen Young, Founder, Oui Shave

SHOUTING OUT: Eleanor Turner, Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, Argent

"There are a ton of female entrepreneurs I'm grateful to know and admire personally. One of them is Eleanor Turner, the cofounder and chief creative officer of Argent, a modern suiting brand for women that equips them to take their seat at the table.

"What I love about Argent is the thoughtful design process that goes into every piece: credit card pockets, eyeglass wipes, pen and phone holders — every detail a modern woman could want is in one chic suit!

"Their pieces are the evidence of founders who are fanatics about fit, comfort, and inclusivity, as they put it 'aiming to drop-kick the glass ceiling.' The fact that Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin are super-fans is icing on the cake."
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