At Business Insider, we believe capitalism can and should be a force for good. Earlier this month we launched the Business Insider 100: The Creators to celebrate leaders who embody this spirit.
Many rankings focus only on those who have achieved great financial success. Our CEO Henry Blodget sums up the drawbacks of such a focus:
“The more money you make, the implication is, the better and more successful you are. We believe this cheapens the mission and sense of purpose that many great business leaders bring to their companies and products. And it certainly undersells their inspiring accomplishments.”
Here we highlight the entrepreneurial women from our list who are are making bold moves to create value for shareholders, employees, consumers, and society. Their companies are leading trends, redefining industries, and bettering the world at large. Check out their stories below.
Edited by Alex Morrell.
Additional editing and reporting by Matthew DeBord, Diane Galligan, Mo Hadi, Ashley Lutz, Lydia Ramsey, Matt Rosoff, Sara Silverstein, Dave Smith, and Matthew Turner.
Cofounder, The Honest Company
In 2011, Jessica Alba pivoted from entertainment to entrepreneurship, launching The Honest Company — a startup dedicated to producing eco-friendly household and beauty products. The idea came to her years before, when she was starting a family and tested a baby detergent that caused her to break out in a rash. Alba was frustrated to find dubious ingredients and safety records for many other household products, so she took matters into her own hands, starting The Honest Company with entrepreneur Brian Lee.
Though it began as an online shopping site, The Honest Company’s products eventually hit the shelves in stores like Costco, Nordstrom, and Whole Foods. As it has expanded, its dedication to creating sustainable products and making a social difference hasn’t wavered, earning it B Corporation certification in 2012. Alba also takes care of her more than 500 employees, announcing this year a benefit of up to 16 weeks paid parental leave for new parents, up from 10 weeks.
But the brand has hit a few bumps in the road. It has faced a spate of lawsuits alleging its products — including baby formula, shampoo, detergent, and sunscreen — contain the same nonorganic, unsafe ingredients the company was created to avoid. The Honest Company has denied the accusations and is fighting the lawsuits.
Cofounder and CEO, Tory Burch
Even those who don’t know Tory Burch by name will surely recognize her logo-embossed flats, a now ubiquitous staple among fashion-minded women. The designer started her eponymous “affordable luxury” brand in 2004 out of her kitchen with borrowed money and built it from the ground up, expanding the business into a $3 billion company with more than 160 stores across the world. A legal battle with her ex-husband ended with him selling the majority of his 28.3% stake in the company in 2013, turning Burch into a self-made billionaire.
Though best known for her iconic shoes, Burch’s brand includes handbags, clothing, and jewelry. And she continues to expand: Last year, she partnered with FitBit to create a line of branded wearables and launched activewear collection Tory Sport.
Burch doesn’t stop with her own success. She hopes to empower other women to achieve their goals, establishing the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 as a way to support fellow women entrepreneurs by providing resources that help women raise capital, find mentors, and receive advice from experts. In 2015, Burch also launched a fellowship program where 10 entrepreneurs win a $10,000 grant for business education, attend a three-day workshop at Tory Burch headquarters, and participate in a year-long fellowship program that provides business support and guidance. One fellow also receives a $100,000 grant investment for her business.
Producer, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”; Founder, Ellen Digital Network
Most famously known as the host and producer of her eponymous, Emmy-award-winning talk show, Ellen DeGeneres is one of today’s most visible entertainment personalities. She’s also perhaps one of the savviest businesspeople in Hollywood.
In May, the comedian launched Ellen Digital Network, an original programming and user-generated-content platform that will unify her wildly popular entertainment, lifestyle, and social media brands. Already, “The Ellen Show” rakes in more than 600 million average monthly video views across all social media platforms.
DeGeneres’ current digital assets include viral video website Ellentube; No. 1 party game app “Heads Up!”; Ellentube original reality-TV competition “tWitch & Allison’s Dance Challenge”; and interactive “Ellen Show” segment “Epic or Fail.” Under the new digital network, she’ll introduce an animated show produced with Warner Bros. and an exclusive content project with social media superstar Tyler Oakley, among other projects.
Through a steady stream of fresh, energetic, and positive content, DeGeneres — who has more than 60 million followers on Twitter — has crafted a growing brand that’s only elevated by her creed: Be kind to one another. The apparel designer, interior decorator, and New York Times best-selling author also uses her platform to help steer national conversation on topics like gay rights and to give generously to her talk show guests and to charities.