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Real Women Stories

Top 10 Women-Led Businesses and Brands

Article written by Tom White

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The entrepreneurial landscape is continuously enriched by the diverse and dynamic leadership of women who steer businesses with vision and resolve. The following compilation highlights 10 women-led enterprises that have excelled in their respective industries and carved out spaces that promote innovation, inclusivity, and empowerment.

From trailblazing health technologies to transformative learning platforms and beyond, these businesses embody the multifaceted nature of female-led entrepreneurship in today’s global economy.

1. Kelleher International

Kelleher International is distinguished as a forerunner in the sphere of matchmaking, bringing over three decades of experience to the table. The company has made a name for itself by serving a niche market of high-net-worth individuals and celebrities, a testament to its exclusivity and discretion​. Inaugurated by Jill Kelleher in 1986 in San Francisco, the firm has since flourished, establishing itself as the largest privately held matchmaking service in the United States​.

This family-owned enterprise is heralded for its bespoke approach to matchmaking, characterized by a deep understanding of the intricate preferences and aspirations of its clients​. Under the leadership of Amber Kelleher-Andrews, CEO, alongside her mother, the company has maintained a commitment to its founding principles while also embracing the evolving landscape of dating and relationships​.

Kelleher International’s success is marked by its track record, having assisted thousands in finding their dream partners for nearly 40 years, an achievement that speaks to its dedication and effectiveness. The company represents the pinnacle of professional matchmaking, where quality and confidentiality are paramount, resonating with the exclusive clientele it serves​.

The firm’s long-standing success can be attributed to its skill in blending innovative matchmaking techniques with the cherished practices of romance, an approach that has evidently resonated with its sophisticated customer base. By signing up for a membership, clients receive exclusive access to eligible matches, relationship coaching, special events, and membership to the Kelleher Social Club.

In the competitive world of matchmaking, Kelleher International continues to distinguish itself through its personalized service, impressive client list, and the lasting relationships it fosters.

2. ELITONE

ELITONE represents a transformative step in the management of female urinary incontinence, a concern that will impact one out of three women over the course of their lives, but often goes unspoken due to its intimate nature. At the helm of ELITONE’s innovative approach is Gloria Kolb, a mechanical engineer turned healthcare entrepreneur whose vision and expertise have brought this non-invasive therapy to the marketplace. With a sterling resume that boasts mechanical engineering degrees from MIT and Stanford, coupled with an Entrepreneurship MBA from Babson College, Kolb has positioned herself as a formidable figure in the field of women’s health technology.

Kolb’s dynamic leadership has propelled ELITONE to the forefront of medical technology for women. As CEO and co-founder, she not only guides the company’s strategic direction, but also embodies the spirit of innovation that drives it. Among her many accolades, she has been named a top 10 finalist in Google’s Women Startup Challenge, recognized as a top innovator under 35 by MIT Review, included in Boston’s “40 Under 40,” and featured in Forbes for driving innovation in women’s health, underscore her impact on the industry.

ELITONE’s device itself is an FDA-cleared marvel of modern engineering that affords women a discreet, wearable solution that they can use in the comfort of their own homes. Tailored to treat both stress and urge incontinence, these devices employ advanced neuromuscular stimulation, targeting the pelvic floor muscles effectively and gently.

Under Kolb’s leadership, ELITONE’s clinical efficacy is not just claimed but proven, with FDA-reviewed studies showing a remarkable 70+% reduction in leaks over six weeks. A notable 95% of women reported improvement, a testament to the device’s design and utility. Kolb’s innovative approach to women’s health is further solidified by ELITONE’s offering of a 60-day money-back guarantee, underscoring the company’s confidence in its product’s performance and its commitment to customer satisfaction.

3. Tigerhall

Tigerhall, conceived by the enterprising Nellie Wartoft, is an organizational enablement platform where industry titans and professionals converge to share and absorb knowledge. Since its inception in 2019, Tigerhall has burgeoned into a global phenomenon, with a presence in 32 countries and a team across 12 markets. Tigerhall differentiates itself by offering content akin to that found on popular social apps, making professional development not only accessible but also engaging.

The platform’s lifeblood is its “Thinkfluencers,” a network of industry experts whose insights are channeled through podcasts, power reads, and videos, all designed to equip professionals with practical skills and knowledge. Tigerhall stands out by facilitating a direct line to real-world expertise, effectively narrowing the chasm between learning and doing. Its success is reflected in the over $10 million raised from renowned investors and a clientele roster featuring Fortune 500 giants.

Before founding Tigerhall, Wartoft led the sales and marketing practice strategy at Michael Page, where she witnessed firsthand the disconnect between corporate learning and employee engagement. The knowledge she gleaned from that experience has shaped Tigerhall’s user-centric approach. With content that employees can directly apply to their careers and to the strategic goals of the organization, Tigerhall encourages an interactive form of engagement that promotes quicker and more efficient company growth.

The platform’s rapid growth and the recognition of its founder, Wartoft — who has been recognized on the 2021 Tatler Gen T list of Future Leaders and as one of International Business Times’ Top Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2023 — testify to its impact. Her advocacy for social mobility echoes through Tigerhall’s mission, ensuring that career advancement is a product of skill and knowledge, unrestricted by one’s background.

4. Kase & CO

Founded in 2017 by Rebecca Kase, LCSW, Kase & CO dedicates itself to enhancing the skills of psychotherapists through specialized EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and trauma training. Kase’s mission is to provide educational experiences that not only enhance professional practice but also empower clients toward significant healing breakthroughs.

The firm is recognized as one of the leading training providers in the United States and is an approved continuing education provider with notable accreditation from EMDRIA, APA, and NBCC. Kase & CO’s course offerings are distinctive in their structure, comprising both dynamic live and on-demand formats aimed at maximizing engagement and retention of learning​.

Central to Kase & CO’s philosophy is the creation of “Shame Free Spaces for Learning™.” This concept underscores the importance of a secure and inclusive learning environment where therapists can freely explore and practice new techniques without fear of judgment. Kase & CO prides itself on teaching EMDR through the lens of Polyvagal Theory, focusing on the interplay between the nervous system and presenting symptoms, and integrating mindfulness techniques within their training programs​.

Kase & CO emphasizes the nervous system as a critical clinical tool. Their training is infused with mindfulness practices such as yoga, guided meditation, and breathing exercises, facilitating the regulation of the nervous system for both learners and their future clients.

Kase, a seasoned EMDR practitioner and educator, recognized the need for improvement in therapist training and continuing education. Her approach is trauma-informed, paying close attention to the practitioners’ emotional journey during the training process. Her team’s teaching style is described as honest and genuine, prioritizing real-world application and sharing both their challenges and triumphs in the field of therapy. They strive to embody the virtues of vulnerability, humility, and bravery, which they deem essential for therapists.

5. Gabbi Tuft Coaching

Gabbi Tuft’s fitness coaching encapsulates a progressive and inclusive ethos that champions self-empowerment and transformation. As a leading figure in the transgender community, a former professional athlete, a keynote speaker, and a seasoned fitness coach, Tuft brings a wealth of experience spanning over three decades to her work.

Having successfully coached over 1,500 individuals to success, Tuft has a distinguished track record, with an overwhelming majority of her clientele being cisgender women. Her mission transcends the typical bounds of fitness coaching — she is dedicated to empowering women to shatter recurring negative patterns and adopt sustainable health and nutrition habits.

Tuft’s coaching model leverages personalized fitness plans and tailored nutritional guidance delivered through an accessible app, ensuring each client’s journey is as unique as their fingerprint. Clients no longer have to spend time figuring out which exercises to do or meals to eat; Gabbi’s custom plans provide a workout plan, grocery lists, and even recipes. 

Tuft’s deep understanding of the psychological aspects of behavior change is integral to her program. She doesn’t just focus on physical transformation, but also on fostering positive neuro-associations, which are crucial for lasting success.

By instilling a sense of self-love and encouraging women to embrace their inner strength, Tuft aims to inspire a cascade of empowerment. Her vision is of a world where women are unapologetically themselves, acknowledging and celebrating their individuality.

Additionally, Tuft’s brand extends into motivational apparel designed to inspire authenticity and self-acceptance. These products are emblematic of the core values Tuft encourages in her community: to live one’s truth with pride.

6. Bradley & Parker

Under the leadership of CEO Wynne Nowland, Bradley & Parker delivers comprehensive insurance, risk management, and financial services. With a history dating back to 1939, the firm has established itself as a leading provider, managing over $115 million in annual insurance premiums and serving nearly 10,000 clients with an impressive retention rate of over 90%​.

Bradley & Parker’s approach is client-centric, emphasizing tailored solutions that align with both immediate and long-term business objectives. Their team brings over 80 years of expertise to the table, assisting clients in navigating the complexities of insurance and financial products, including property and casualty insurance, employee benefits, risk management, surety and bonding, retirement plan design, and investment services.

Nowland’s journey as a transgender woman and a transformative business leader is integral to the company’s narrative. At 56, she boldly embraced her identity by introducing herself as Wynne to her colleagues, marking the final step in a personal journey of authenticity. This act of courage — highlighted in The Wall Street Journal — not only marked a significant personal milestone for Nowland, but also underscored the inclusive and progressive ethos at Bradley & Parker.

As a transgender CEO, Nowland offers a unique perspective on diversity and leadership, fostering an environment of acceptance and understanding within the corporate landscape. Her leadership style and personal experiences bring invaluable insights into the discourse on transgender issues and workplace inclusivity, positioning her as a business leader and visionary champion for change and authenticity in the professional world.

7. Tina’s Vodka

Tina’s Vodka stands out in the spirits industry with a focus on quality, health consciousness, and a connection to the founder’s personal journey. Tina Karras, the CEO and owner, channeled her diverse experience in the hospitality sector into creating a vodka that ticks all the boxes: organic, non-GMO, American-made, smooth, and affordable. The inception of Tina’s Vodka was an extension of Karras’s artistic journey, transforming her understanding of the liquor industry into a tangible product that embodies her values and aspirations.

Karras launched Tina’s Vodka with a small bank loan and credit cards while simultaneously working on her debut record, only to face adversity due to the pandemic — yet her resilience saw the brand through to fruition. Today, Tina’s Vodka is distributed by Southern Glazers Wine & Spirits, sold nationwide, and available in North Carolina ABC stores, signifying a remarkable climb from its grassroots beginnings.

Tina’s Vodka is crafted from organic corn — a deliberate choice for its cleaner smell and taste, which pairs well in cocktails — and is naturally gluten-free. This preference for organic corn is rooted in Karras’s commitment to avoiding GMOs and the pesticides commonly associated with them, aligning with her North Carolina heritage where corn, as in grits, is a staple​. The vodka is distilled up to six times and then filtered using a proprietary method with organic coconut shell to ensure the utmost cleanliness and purity. With this vodka, consumers need not worry about harmful ingredients or dreaded hangovers.

Tina’s Vodka encapsulates Karras’s ethos of pursuing dreams regardless of the obstacles. This spirit is reflected in the product’s purity and commitment to regenerative agriculture through her partnership with Kiss The Ground, as well as in the brand’s narrative of perseverance and authenticity.

8. ProServeIT

business enabler. Recognizing that modern IT goes beyond mere servers and networks, ProServeIT integrates technology into the broader business strategy, helping businesses thrive in a digital landscape. The company, a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Partner, has been operating since 2002 and demonstrates extensive experience in Microsoft Cloud Solution areas, crucial for digital transformation efforts.

Positioning cybersecurity as the foundation of its service offerings, ProServeIT has earned recognition for its expertise, having been admitted to Microsoft’s Managed Security Solutions Provider (MSSP) program and being part of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association (MISA). This underscores their commitment to secure, reliable IT solutions that protect against the increasing threats in the cyber landscape.

With a global presence, ProServeIT has its headquarters in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and maintains offices across Canada, the United States, France, and Vietnam to ensure round-the-clock customer service. Their international footprint allows them to serve a diverse clientele, including sectors such as nonprofit, education, healthcare, finance, legal, agriculture, retail, small business, construction, professional services, manufacturing, and municipalities, speaking to their adaptability and expertise across various industries.

Mihae Ahn, as the Vice President of Marketing at ProServeIT, has made significant strides in shaping the company’s brand and outreach. Under her leadership, the marketing and inside sales teams have thrived, benefitting from her expertise in hiring, coaching, and mentoring.

The core values of the company — represented daily by its team — underline a deeply personal commitment to their customers’ success, striving to unlock their digital potential. With a customer base of over 1 million satisfied clients, ProServeIT’s 20+ years of experience and dedication to modern IT solutions aim to turn technology into a business advantage, ensuring that every business can be a technology company in its own right.

9. Insure What You Love

Based in McMinnville, Oregon, Insure What You Love distinguishes itself as an insurance agency with a personal touch. Spearheaded by Heidi Moore, an experienced Country Financial agent with deep family roots in the industry, the firm is committed to providing insurance that is as much about safeguarding clients’ dreams as it is about protecting their assets. Moore’s team delivers straightforward, honest advice, ensuring clients understand and receive the coverage they need, eschewing the industry norm of one-size-fits-all policies.

The agency emphasizes the importance of investing in comprehensive insurance, cautioning against the allure of low-cost policies that often fail to cover critical needs. Their customized insurance solutions span various sectors, including specialized coverage for the craft beverage industry and farms — sectors where Moore’s personal expertise shines. The firm’s understanding of the nuances in these fields enables it to offer policies without the usual exclusions or gaps.

For businesses, especially small and medium-sized, Insure What You Love offers policies crafted with a local understanding, incorporating necessary endorsements often overlooked by others. In personal insurance, the agency offers customized plans for auto, property, life, and health, ensuring that coverage meets the individual’s unique circumstances and securing peace of mind for clients.

With a promise of no wasted investments, “Insure What You Love” represents integrity and personalized service in the insurance market. The company is dedicated to protecting what its clients hold dear with policies that reflect a deep understanding of their specific needs and challenges.

10. Gallery Design Studio

Gallery Design Studio (GDS), led by founder and Chief Design Officer Caroline Petersen, epitomizes the fusion of creativity and technology for B2B AI-driven software companies. Based in New York City, the company offers a results-driven creative team that has mastered the art of conveying complex technologies with clarity and impact. Since its inception in 2015, the woman-owned agency has partnered with over 100 clients, harnessing over a century’s worth of combined team experience to elevate tech brands.

GDS’s services encompass a variety of formats, including explainer videos, presentations, eBooks, white papers, infographics, and comprehensive web design and development. The company also provides specialized design services for trade show booths. GDS’s focus lies in producing content that not only informs, but also engages the target audience, with the end goal of enhancing brand awareness, generating leads, and driving sales.

The studio’s approach involves understanding the unique challenges and goals of each client and crafting content that showcases the client’s innovative technology or services to the relevant industry stakeholders. Their capabilities extend across diverse industries such as financial services, business services, manufacturing, and healthcare, demonstrating their versatility and commitment to addressing the specific content needs of tech-oriented B2B companies.

Additionally, Petersen’s standout project, eShelf, revolutionizes agency profitability by automating essential services like file management, time tracking, and project management, coupled with holistic 360 reporting. Available 24/7, eShelf’s self-service portal embodies the efficiency and forward-thinking ethos of her leadership.

Through GDS, Petersen demonstrates how a tech-savvy design studio can thrive by marrying the precision of data with the power of design, creating a compelling narrative for tech companies in a cluttered digital space.

In showcasing these 10 exemplary women-led businesses, we have traversed a spectrum of industries and witnessed the profound influence of female entrepreneurs in shaping the contemporary business world. Each brand, with its unique narrative and pioneering leader, contributes significantly to its industry’s evolution, challenging norms and introducing progressive practices. These inspiring companies demonstrate the far-reaching impact of women in business who are actively remolding the marketplace with foresight, ingenuity, and dedication.

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