Did you know that four out of ten businesses in the US are women-owned? And according to a study conducted by a Boston consulting group, businesses founded by women earn twice as much as those founded by men! It goes without saying, women are just as, if not more savvy and resilient when given the opportunity to shine. So if you have a business idea we say go for it, what’s holding you back? Here are five inspirational stories of female founders and the kitchen brands they created to keep you inspired and motivated.
When a James Beard Award-winning food editor partners with a savvy consumer behavior specialist that cut her teeth at Warby Parker during their early years, something magical is bound to happen.
Childhood friends, Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis were fresh out of college building their careers while building a home for themselves when they realized that starting from scratch is pretty time-consuming and really expensive! Tishgart at the time was an editor at Grub Street covering restaurant openings several nights a week when she came to the realization that she wanted to spend more time cooking at home. The problem was, she wasn’t satisfied with her collection of hand-me-down pans nor did she want to dish out the cash on what felt like a 1,000-piece cookware set. Is it really necessary to have five different pans, four pots, corresponding lids, and three sizes of cookie sheets?
Tishgart thought to herself that someone needs to create a better cookware set, but why shouldn’t that person be her? This cookware line would not only be smart and functional, but it’ll also be appealing to the eyes, something that you’d proudly display on your stovetop. Tishgart reached out to pitch the idea to her best friend Maddy who immediately saw potential in the concept.
The girls named the company Great Jones, a nod to Judith Jones, the book editor that published Julia Child, Edna Lewis, and James Beard. Great Jones was launched in 2018, and a year later at the age of 28, both Tishgart and Moelis were named to the Forbes 2019 30 Under 30 Food & Drink list.
Great Jones offers essential cookware pieces in ceramic, cast iron, and nonstick materials. The pots, pans, and bakeware come in fun bold colors with stylish and chic accents. The collection is definitely camera worthy so if you’re all about documenting your cooking stories on the Gram, give Great Jones a try – if you’re not satisfied after 30 days of use, you can even ship it back for free!
We recommend The Dutchess, Great Jones’ enameled cast iron Dutch Oven.
Hedley & Bennett
If you consider an apron “a game-day jersey,” then you may be cut from the same cloth as Hedley & Bennett’s founder and CEO, Ellen Bennett. Bennett has been producing “Proper Bad Ass Aprons” out of her factory in Los Angeles since 2012; today her aprons can be seen on celebrity chefs such as Martha Stewart, David Chang, April Bloomfield, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Alton Brown. So how did this badass female entrepreneur produce a multimillion-dollar empire selling handcrafted aprons? A lot of hustle!
Like most great inventions, Hedley & Bennett was created out of necessity. Bennett at the time was working as a line cook at two critically acclaimed restaurants in LA taking great pride in her “uniform” that she would don every day, the problem was, the uniform was flimsy. Her apron pockets would rip off easily, the straps were hard to adjust and rarely stayed in place, not to mention the fact that the plastic hardware would literally melt from the heat in the kitchen. Bennett was determined to create a more dignified and resilient uniform that kitchen staff would be proud to wear – it also doesn’t hurt that they would come in cute colors.
Her first apron order came by accident from a conversation with the chef at Bäco Mercat. Bennett was in the right place at the right time. The chef had mentioned bringing in a company to fit his staff with new aprons, Bennett took the opportunity to ask for the work and the chef conceded. She took $300 from her savings and developed her first collection to fulfill the forty apron order. From there, Bennett continued her hustle attending events and introducing herself as an apron designer to celebrity chefs who all would eventually become loyal customers.
Hedley & Bennett outfits over four thousand restaurants and coffee shops across the US as well as artists, florists, nail technicians, tattoo artists, sculptors, and potters. Made from high-quality, durable materials such as Japanese denim, American canvas, breathable linens, and beautiful brass hardware, a Hedley & Bennett apron won’t help you become a better cook but you’ll look great trying!
We recommend The Carryall Apron, it’s durable and comfortable, AND IT HAS POCKETS!
Bee’s Wrap founder Sarah Kaeck had one problem in mind to solve, figure out a way to eliminate plastics in our kitchens. Plastics are taking over; scientists are finding plastic fibers everywhere even in the stomachs of sperm whales, tap water, and in salt. To Kaeck, environmental consciousness has always been a big part of her life. When she’s not tending to pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, and growing her own produce, Kaeck spends a lot of time outdoors with her husband and three children so preserving mother nature is very important to the family.
As a mother of three operating a farm, Kaeck had enough to keep herself busy but she eventually caught the entrepreneurial bug. In addition to growing and canning her own produce, Kaeck also baked her own bread – for the bread bakers reading this, you’ll be familiar with the problem of storing bread in a way so that it stays fresh and the crust stays crusty. Kaeck wanted to create a plastic wrap alternative so she started experimenting by waxing fabric with beeswax, resin and jojoba oil. This material that she had developed was also washable, reusable, and compostable!
Kaeck named the product Bee’s Wrap and launched the company in 2011. She started reaching out to different blogs to write about her product and the sales took off from there. In need of an extra set of hands, Kaeck recruited a friend to help make the wraps out of a studio space in her home. She eventually hired eight women from her community and moved the operations to her basement as the sales increased. They are no longer operating out of her basement FYI!
Kaeck has managed to build her company without investors and has secured notable co-branding partnerships with National Geographic and Patagonia. Bee’s Wrap works with partners such as one percent for the Planet, The Bee Cause, The Rozalia Project, and National Geographic to help support environmental stewardship and conservation efforts.
Available in a selection of fun prints and colors, Bee’s Wrap will keep your food looking fly and fresh on the outside while it’s staying fresh on the inside.
We recommend the Bee’s Wrap. These cute and stylishly printed reusable food wraps will zhuzh up your dining experience even if you’re just eating half a leftover sandwich on a park bench.
If you own a reusable bottle, chances are it’s a S’well bottle. In 2010 S’well founder Sarah Kauss set out on a mission to rid the world of single-use plastic bottles. At the time, sustainable products were pretty drab and boring but Kauss envisioned her bottles to be something people would WANT to be seen with.
Today S’well bottles can be seen toted around by stylish boardroom execs, weekend warrior adventurers, dedicated gym goers, and even the cool kids are into them! Not only are they oh-so chic and stylish, but they are also extremely functional keeping beverages cold for up to 48 hours and hot for 24 hours (depending on the size of the bottle).
Raised by parents that owned several small businesses, Kauss was born with entrepreneurial DNA. After receiving a degree in accounting at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Kauss took a job as a CPA at Ernst & Young. After receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she dabbled in consulting and eventually landed in commercial real estate. Despite having a very successful career in real estate, Kauss was always on the lookout for a great business idea. The inspiration for S’well came to her one day after taking a sip of warm water from her reusable water bottle. It was a clunky bottle that was more suitable for a camping trip than the boardroom, she realized then and there that there was a need for a bottle that not only looked better but functioned better.
Kauss self-funded the creation of S’well with $30,000 from her savings and has since grown the brand to be a household name – all of this accomplished with zero dollars from outside investors! Kauss still owns one hundred percent of S’well; her ownership of the company makes her one of the most successful self-made women in the US.
Beyond bottles, S’well also offers reusable food containers, barware, and accessories. Look out for their limited collections with charitable partners such as UNICEF, (RED), American Forests, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, No-Shave November, (RED), and Drink Up – you know we love a good giveback partnership!
We recommend S’well’s 17 Fl Oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle in this gorgeous Blue Granite design.
Do you know the story behind the pan drying soaking in your sink right now? Was it created by a Stanford University grad that co-founded a fund for a 17-year-old Nobel laureate? We didn’t think so – unless you happen to own a pan from Our Place. You may have seen this line of Instagramable cookware and dish sets heavy on your social feeds this year, the company launched just a few months before COVID had us on lockdown but it turns out that not even a pandemic can stop us from finding joy in cooking!
Pakistan-born Shiza Shahid is the co-founder of Our Place, but she is best known for her role as the founder and former CEO of the Malala Fund. So why and how, did this women’s rights advocate, and mission-minded investor become a cookware entrepreneur? As an immigrant living in the US, cooking and sharing food with friends is a way for Shahid to connect with her roots, something that is very important to her living so far away from home. She believes that home cooking is “where culture and identity and love and belonging live” – Our Place is a celebration of this.
Shahid wanted to design a line of cookware that met the needs of the modern, multi-ethnic American kitchen. It had to be smart, functional, and compact because if you’re steaming bao buns on a Sunday, making tacos on a Tuesday, or cooking up a curry on Friday, you’re going to need a lot of tools but not everyone has a lot of space. Our Place also offers a simplistic set of dishware made purposely in this way so that the focus is on the connections made at the dinner table and not on the tableware. In addition to creating a good product, Shahid made sure her products were also created in a “good” way. Materials for all items from the Our Place line are sourced ethically and sustainably; products are made with recycled materials and packed in sustainable materials. True to her activist roots, Shahid continues to support a number of social causes with sales proceeds. Our Place has partnered with charitable organizations such as Feeding America, the Equal Justice Initiative, the Immigrants Defenders Network, and the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
If you’re in the market for a pan that does it all, check out their flagship item, the Always Pan – designed to replace eight different kitchen products.
We recommend the Always Pan; a 10-inch non-toxic, nonstick ceramic coated pan with a super handy steamer basket, beechwood spatula, and modular lid. Trust us, you’re gonna want to keep this beauty out on display on your stove.