You're never too young to have big dreams. And as some famous female entrepreneurs have illustrated, sometimes carving out your own path is the best way to go. Get inspired by these five spotlight-worthy female entrepreneurs and famous businesswomen who have proven that hard work, determination, talent, and savvy ideas can drive success.
Oprah Winfrey: The Queen of Female Entrepreneurs
One of the most famous female entrepreneurs of all time, Oprah Winfrey went from a difficult upbringing to becoming the first Black female billionaire. Best known for hosting “The Oprah Winfrey Show" for 25 seasons, she has since become a media powerhouse and philanthropist. And, she was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2013.
Wanting to give back, Winfrey launched Oprah's Angel Network, which has raised more than $50 million for various charities.
Sara Blakely: From Door-to-Door Sales to Super Success
Sara Blakely is the founder of one of the most well-known brands in the world: Spanx. Her shapewear dynasty propelled Blakely to become the youngest female self-made billionaire in 2012.
It all began with her original idea: As a traveling salesperson at the time, Blakely wanted an undergarment that would flatter her shape but still allow her to wear open-toed shoes. So she cut the feet off of a pair of pantyhose and used $5,000 in savings (and some entrepreneurial spirit) to create, patent, and market her new invention. With lots of work — and eventually a mention on “The Oprah Winfrey Show" — Spanx became a household name.
After much success, Blakely started the Sara Blakely Foundation, which offers scholarships and grants to aspiring female entrepreneurs. And, after recently cementing a $1.2 billion sale of Spanx shares to Blackstone, she paid it forward by gifting all employees with two first-class plane tickets and $10,000.
You may know the 33 year old for her pop hits, but she's also a savvy entrepreneur worth emulating. Rihanna, known in the biz world as Robyn Fenty, is a beauty and fashion brand powerhouse who reached billionaire status in 2021. Her launches include the lingerie brand Savage X Fenty and the cosmetics company Fenty Beauty.
But don't worry — the fame and fortune have hardly gone to her head. Robyn is also founder of the Clara Lionel Foundation, which supports education and emergency response programs around the world. Add to that her 100 million+ followers on Instagram, and you can see why she earned a spot on our list.
Marsai Martin: Producing Her Destiny of Success
Marsai Martin is best known for starring as Diane Johnson on the sitcom “Black-ish," but she's also a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs. At just 14 years old, she became Hollywood's youngest executive producer for the film “Little."
Martin's production company, Genius Entertainment, which she runs with her parents, has a number of projects in the works. In other words, Martin is just getting started.
Mikaila Ulmer: The Youngest Successful Businesswoman in the Room
Mikaila Ulmer probably didn't realize at age 4 that her business idea would become “buzz-worthy." But that's precisely when she started on the road toward becoming one of the country's top female founders.
Ulmer took the “lemonade stand" concept to a whole new level. After getting stung by a bee and becoming fascinated by them, she decided she wanted to create a business that incorporated her grandma's lemonade recipe while also helping honeybees. She came up with Me & the Bees Lemonade, which donates a percentage of the profits to organizations dedicated to saving honeybees.
Today Ulmer speaks on entrepreneurship panels, and she published her first book in 2020 called “Bee Fearless, Dream Like a Kid."