Whether it was in the form of a wage gap or a lack of upward mobility, it’s possible you may have experienced racial or gender inequalities at some point in time during your career—and you’re certainly not alone.
Statistically, women and ethnic minorities make considerably less than their white, male peers. To put this into perspective, the current median annual income of the average working woman is about $10,800 less than what a man would earn. It’s also harder for women and minorities to obtain leadership positions within their companies and those who are able to acquire leadership roles still face considerable biases.
Unfortunately, business ownership is also male dominated with 64 percent of all business owners in the United States being men. Of the remaining 36 percent, women of color account for about one out of every three female-owned businesses. This may be a significant increase when compared to previous decades, but women-owned businesses are still facing significant setbacks. Unlike their male counterparts, female owners have trouble securing funding for their businesses and often turn to personal lines of credit or savings accounts as a result.
For these very reasons, it is important to support women- and minority-owned businesses whenever possible. If you’re looking for a place to start—here are eight incredible businesses all owned by inspirational women of color who prove glass ceilings are truly breakable!
Señoreata – Evanice Holz
Evanice Holz, the plant-based chef and founder of Señoreata Vegan Cuban Food Stand, boasts Cuban and Brazilian heritage which can certainly be found infused in her delicious dishes. After going vegan at the age of 20, Holz made it her mission to cultivate vegan cuisines reminiscent of her culture and her favorite childhood meals. Her pop-up restaurant features such favorites as the pulled “pork” sofrito tamales, the plantain picadillo nacho boat, along with numerous Cuban pastries. Holz also runs a vegan recipe and lifestyle blog which posts updates on where you can find her mouthwatering meals next!
SUSI Studio – Bianca Moran
Founder and creative director of Los Angeles-based vegan footwear company SUSI Studio, Bianca Moran realized early on there was a lack of cruelty-free footwear within the fashion industry. Having discovered veganism at the age of 14 while living abroad in Barcelona, Moran has since made it her mission to promote conscious living and prove once-and-for-all that you can be stylish while still adhering to a cruelty-free lifestyle. SUSI Studio’s shoes are made with all-natural, ethically sourced, and sustainable materials such as hemp and faux leather made from recycled plastic bottles. Moran also owns SUSI Restaurant, the first vegan and gluten-free restaurant in the Philippines.
The Lip Bar – Melissa Butler
Melissa Butler created the Detroit-based cosmetics company, The Lip Bar, in 2012 due to her frustrations with the beauty industry’s rigid beauty standards. In order to challenge these standards and empower women, Butler abandoned her career as a stockbroker on Wall Street and created the all-inclusive line with the help of her high school friend, Rosco Spears. Despite getting rejected on Shark Tank, Butler was not discouraged and was able to grow her company by landing her own partnership with Target.com. The Lip Bar boasts a wide array of vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free products made from all-natural ingredients. Butler’s line has since been feature on Teen Vogue, Essence, and Cosmopolitan.
VAUTE – Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart
In 2008, without a background in fashion design or any major investors, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart founded VAUTE (“Haute” + V for Vegan) in order to shake up the fashion industry. Labeled the first vegan fashion brand of its kind—and the first vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week—Hilgart’s innovative brand works to put an end to the use of animals in the fashion industry. Starting out as a model in Taipei, Taiwan, Hilgart wasn’t always certain of her purpose in life until she read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra—a self-help book about accomplishing your dreams. Hilgart’s innovative clothing label is entirely vegan and eco-friendly with clothes made from organic and recycled materials.
OBIA Naturals – Obia Ewah
An exceptionally trained chemist (with bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Biology as well as a master’s degree in Public Health to prove it!), Obia Ewah sought to create natural hair and skin care products that were free from harmful chemicals. With the help of her younger brother, Omini Ewah, she launched OBIA Naturals in 2012 and her vision was definitely a success! Her products are entirely vegan, gluten-free, non-toxic, and without any artificial ingredients.
Souley Vegan – Tamearra Dyson
A true inspiration, Tamearra Dyson left her job in the medical field to pursue her dream of owning a restaurant. A single mother with no life savings, she started out selling her delicious Cajun and Creole style cuisine at local events until she saved up enough money to open her own restaurant. Located in Oakland, California, Souley Vegan has become increasingly popular for those seeking good ol’ vegan, Southern cooking. And with options like okra gumbo, vegan mac n’ cheese, and biscuits and gravy, it’s no wonder celebrities like Meagan Good and Colin Kaepernick are flocking in for a taste!
Mented Cosmetics – KJ Miller & Amanda Johnson
Founded by Harvard Business School graduates KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson, Mented Cosmetics was created as a push for inclusion and diversity in the beauty industry. Miller and Johnson have definitely broken barriers by becoming the 15th and 16th African-American women to raise $1 million in funding to grow their business! The cosmetics line designed for women of color is entirely vegan, non-toxic, and cruelty-free.
Kyra’s Shea Medleys – Kyra Nicole Young
While a college student at UCLA, Kyra Young found it difficult to find hair and skin care products that were natural and affordable, so she created her own! With a mission to empower young women through natural beauty, the Los Angeles-based company was born. KSM features all-organic, all-natural, and vegan hand-whipped shea butter creams and even features products such as the Strengthened and Emollient Butter Cream and the Avocado and Vanilla Oil Medley that are safe to use on eczema prone skin! Best of all, the vast majority of KSM’s products are under $15!
Which one of these brands are you excited to try–or have experience with? And do you know of any inspirational minority women entrepreneurs?
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Photo: @senoreata via Instagram, @susistudio via Instagram, @thelipbar via Instagram, @melissarbutler via Instagram, @leannemaily via Instagram, @obiaewah via Instagram, @obianaturals via Instagram, @souleyvegan via Instagram, @mentedcosmetics via Instagram, @kyrasheamedleys via Instagram