Taking charge:

How 16 amazing women leaders are changing the retail industry for the better

These incredible women are smashing the glass ceiling with stilettos and mascara wands in taking over the shopping business.

The retail business is a place where creativity and motivation thrive. In a world where women control more than $20 trillion of spending in the global economy, it doesn’t make sense for male executives to dominate the shopping world any longer. Women deserve products that meet their unique needs, and they are contributing extremely valuable ideas, highlighted by the empowering females below.

Although these women vary in age, race and sexual orientation, all are bound together by their success and tenacity. Meet the truly exceptional ladies working to take over the retail world, one brilliant idea at a time.

Women in shopping - Emily Weiss

1. Emily Weiss
Founder and CEO of Glossier

After a brief stint on The Hills, Weiss founded the beauty blog Into the Gloss, working on it in the wee hours before her office job. Just a few years later, she launched a cult-favorite beauty brand using nothing but Instagram. Now she’s the CEO of Glossier, a multimillion-dollar company that’s going nowhere but up.

How does someone so successful stay grounded? Weiss reports that regular meditation is key to keeping relaxed and turning into the powerful leader she is.

2. Ashley Nell Tipton
Project Runway winner, fashion line founder

This bombshell babe is a California native and winner of the competitive fashion design show Project Runway. Since then, she’s taken the plus-size fashion world by storm.

Tipton sells personal designs on her website and formerly designed a huge part of JCPenney’s flagship Boutique+ line. She’s happy to express herself more freely now in her designs for women, with plans to expand to men’s and children’s plus-size clothing.

Women in shopping - Ashley Nell Tipton
Women in shopping - Kylie Jenner

3. Kylie Jenner
Founder and CEO of Kylie Cosmetics

Getting her start on reality TV, this little Kardashian sis has made a big splash in the beauty world, carving out a brand that’s projected to earn a neat $1 billion by 2022. The youngest entrepreneur on the Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2017, she plans to keep building her burgeoning empire. Even though it can feel like others don’t take her seriously because of her age and celebrity, Jenner says she likes “to prove people wrong.”

4. Dr. Macrene Alexiades, MD, PhD
Founder of 37 Actives

With three Harvard degrees under her belt, it’s clear this woman is one smart cookie. Dr. Alexiades’ high-end skincare line is the product of years of research, work in her own dermatology practice and experience as an attending physician. It’s a science-based, plant-derived skincare line that goes beyond industry standards in testing and results. Alexiades’ education alone is a testament to her investment in her product. She calls 37 Actives her brainchild and the passion of her life.

Women in shopping - Dr. Macrene Alexiades
Women in shopping - Tata Harper

5. Tata Harper
Founder and co-CEO of Tata Harper Skincare

After her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, Harper became concerned about the toxicity of ingredients we’re exposed to every day. She channeled that concern into creating a safe, toxin-free skincare line that still feels luxurious. She says her Colombian roots taught her a valuable lesson about the philosophy of beauty that all businesswomen would do well to remember: Beauty shouldn’t be “a chore or a luxury, but something you [do] to make yourself happy.”

6. Kim Kardashian West
Founder and CEO of KKW Beauty

The Kardashian name may have given her a leg up, but Kardashian has fought tooth and nail to make it to the top since then. Her cosmetics company is a massive success: When it launched last June, the line sold out in about three hours, and it continues to be in hot demand.

The reality queen’s best business advice? “If you find something you’re really passionate about, figure out a way to make that your job. Then you’ll be happy. If you aren’t doing what you want to do, you’ll be frustrated.”

Women in shopping - Kim Kardashian
Women in shopping - Rose-Marie Swift

7. Rose-Marie Swift
Founder of RMS Beauty

Not many makeup artists can say their work has been featured in Vogue, but even fewer can say their work has been featured in Vogue in six countries. Swift got her start with the most exquisite brands and models in the world before starting her own line, RMS Beauty, after becoming wary of the toxic chemicals in typical cosmetics.

This makeup queen’s advice? If you don’t like what you see on the market, change it. “I started studying what was out there, got pissed off, then started my own brand,” Swift explains in a recent Coveteur interview.

8. and 9. KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson
Founders and co-CEOs of Mented Cosmetics

Like Rose-Marie Swift, Miller saw a gap in the market: Makeup designed specifically for women of color. Mented Cosmetics offers everything from foundation to nail polish in shades for all skin tones.

These lady-bosses found their stride by understanding their market firsthand. “Because we are our customer, we’ve found product development to be one of our biggest strengths,” Miller has said. The brand is slowly expanding its vegan, customer-driven offerings, boasting more than 24K Instagram followers.

Women in shopping - KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson
Women in shopping - Sara Blakely

10. Sara Blakely
Founder of Spanx

Sometimes inspiration comes to you the hard way — like when you’re in the middle of getting ready for a night out and can’t find underwear that doesn’t make your outfit look frumpy. That’s exactly what happened to Sara Blakely before she invested $5,000 into creating an undergarment that could be worn under white slacks.

It was a brilliant idea: Blakley is now a billionaire and one of the most powerful women in the world, according to Forbes. She believes in failing big, but also encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to fully develop their ideas before sharing them with the world. Today, the Spanx brand includes trendy options for younger women through the Assets line.

11. Beyoncé
Co-founder of Ivy Park

Whether she’s slaying the stage, playing mom to her three kids or taking on the casual fashion world, there just isn’t much Queen Bey can’t do well. She cofounded the activewear line Ivy Park, now sold at popular retailers like Nordstrom and Topshop.

Beyoncé knows better than anyone the importance of conceiving and building your personal brand. “The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself,” she famously told Vanity Fair.

Women in shopping - Beyoncé
Women in shopping - Sophia Amoruso

12. Sophia Amoruso
Founder of Nasty Gal and Girlboss

This artsy, young urbanite created her own online clothing store after eBay allegedly suspended her account in 2008. Boohoo purchased her smashing success, Nasty Gal, in mid 2017. Amoruso then founded Girlboss Media, a newsource meant to inspire and motivate women and help them redefine success for themselves. Naming her new brand after the book she wrote in 2014, Amoruso is helping to change the way women in the beauty and lifestyle writing industry are treated by offering all of her employees — including interns — benefits like unlimited paid time off, paid maternity leave, fully paid healthcare and more.

13. and 14. Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg
Founders of Premme

Sick of frumpy designs that made them feel like an afterthought, Mason and Gregg launched the plus-size Premme line in the summer of 2017. Offering affordable prices and designs women actually want to wear, these ladies are poised to take the fashion world by storm.

As a queer woman, Mason prides herself on putting a unique alternative spin on the often straight-laced fashion world. Telling GO magazine, “People really underestimate the power of visibility,” Mason is inspired to design clothes for women who might otherwise feel invisible.

Women in shopping - Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg
Women in shopping - Susanne Kaufmann

15. Susanne Kaufmann
Founder and owner of Susanne Kaufmann

Designing a beauty brand good enough for Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter is no small feat. But Kaufmann has managed to do just that with her winning combination of science-proven results and nature-friendly formulas.

This fierce woman runs her brand alongside her family’s hotel in Austria’s Bergen forest, the beautiful natural area that inspired her collection in the first place. Her advice for running a small business empire while still having time to be a great mom and wife? “It is important to hand over some of the responsibility to other people,” Kaufmann told W Magazine, delegating what she can to those she trusts.

16. Madonna
Founder of MDNA Skin

This legendary pop star is making a name for herself beyond ballads, divulging beauty secrets from her luxury skincare line. She’s recently announced plans to collaborate with Kim Kardashian on more amazing beauty products.

But it’s not just about looking pretty: Madonna wants to change the way society talks about older women. “We need to stop talking about aging like it’s something negative. […] Why can’t we just be the age that we are and look amazing all of the time?” Madonna said in a recent interview with Refinery29. At nearly 60 years old, this influential idol has proven that girlish beauty isn’t required to build a successful beauty brand.

Women in shopping - Madonna

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Nicole Gallina
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