March 8th marks the celebration of International Women’s Day.
It’s a day focused on celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women – while still serving as a call to action for achieving greater gender equality worldwide.
International Women’s Day was founded in 1911, with more than a million men and women marching worldwide in protest to demand women’s rights to work, vote, get training and education, hold public office, and end discrimination. Less than a week later, New York City’s “Triangle Fire” took the lives of more than 140 immigrant women working in terrible conditions, calling renewed attention to the need for reform and progress in women’s working rights.
We’ve come a long way since those days, although there’s still progress to be made across the globe. Today, many entrepreneurs focus on social causes alongside growing their businesses, taking the opportunity to use sustainable materials and give back to social causes that support the community and the planet.
As such, we thought we’d use the occasion to celebrate the notable achievements of women business owners in ecommerce. Women make up 53% of Shopify store owners, and many of them have built incredible businesses that also give back to social causes.
Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
Black Girls RUN! isn’t just an ecommerce shop – it’s a national movement, focused on tackling the obesity crisis in the Black community by building a lifestyle movement encouraging Black girls and women to start running and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Founded by two women of color, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha, in 2011, the program now includes more than 150,000 women across the country.
The free program has a nationwide network of running groups with a variety of online resources including training programs and healthy recipes. Its Shopify store also includes a variety of branded merchandise including hats, tees, sweatshirts, wristbands, and more.
This jewelry ecommerce store was founded by designer Jessica Hendricks Yee, and features a collection of jewelry that’s been handcrafted by Cambodian artisans using traditional metalwork techniques including brass, silver, and gold materials. The collection was inspired by the bravery of survivors of sexual trafficking in Cambodia, and serves to provide job opportunities to Cambodian women. Additionally, 10% of the company’s profits are donated to fight human trafficking in Cambodia, with funds donated to partner organizations that help empower young women to choose other paths.
Otherwild is an ecommerce shop as well as a design studio and event space, owned by queer artist Rachel Berks. The shop offers a wide variety of sustainable products, including zero-waste bath and body products, cleaning products, and kitchen products; and apparel and ceramics with designs created by up-and-coming artists. The brand has a brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles, and centers ethics at the core of its business and mission. The brand is dedicated to sustainable and reusable products, and to supporting and uplifting the voices of queer and marginalized artists and creators. The brand also has an “Otherwild Fund Collection,” in which 100% of proceeds go to fund grants for QTPOC artists.
This doll company was founded by college student Yelitsa Jean-Charles, who wanted to create dolls that represented girls of color like herself. Healthy Roots’ doll, Zoe, is an 18-inch tall Black doll with curly hair, providing diverse representation for girls who want to see dolls that look more like them. The doll’s hair can be styled in braids, knots, or any other style you could do with real hair.
The company’s focus is providing positive representation of diversity to young girls. As the website says, “Zoe is here to show girls that they are perfect just the way they are. She is designed to represent the beauty in our diversity with an adorably crafted face and beautiful curly locs because no one should feel less than because of the kink of their curl or the color of their skin.”
Wild Fang is an apparel brand founded by women that’s focused on honoring diverse representations of gender in their clothing lines, such as high-quality blazers for women and non-binary people. The brand takes a sustainable approach to style and is going climate neutral this year, with strict benchmarks in place for carbon emissions and taking action to offset them. The company has given back over $650,000 to nonprofits including RAICES, Girls Inc, and the ACLU.
Kona Bennellie was founded in 2010 by Jessica Mashkevich, and its main product is the Throw-bee, a blanket that’s designed to be worn as a poncho. It has since expanded into related product lines including pillowcases, pants, and pet ponchos. The brand offers comfort in all its products, but it also gives back with every purchase: Every time a customer purchases a Throw-bee product, the brand donates a new blanket to an animal shelter.
SmartyPits’ original product is an aluminum- and phthalate-free deodorant, though it’s since expanded into a new line of organic lip balm as well. The business was founded by Stacia Guzzo, after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she became aware of a link between aluminum in deodorant and breast cancer. After researching available natural deodorant options, she wasn’t able to find anything effective, so she spent years researching skin care formulation to design her own brand. Since its launch in 2014, the brand has given 1% of profits to support breast cancer research, and also provides free deodorant to oncology centers, breast cancer support groups, and nonprofits.
In 2014, Tanya Dalton founded Inkwell Press as a company focused on productivity tools, training, and education. The brand enables its customers to create customized planners based on their unique lifestyle needs, as well as a variety of productivity notepads. The company donates inkWELL Academic Planners to teachers and homeschooling parents at the start of each school year to help them plan their curriculum, and also donates excess inventory to women’s shelters and residential treatment centers.
Herbal Goodness, founded by Unoma Okorafor Ph.D, is dedicated to producing and selling health items that incorporate superfoods such as papayas, guava leaf, avocado, and other natural products that have known health benefits. The company gives 10% of all its profits to support the global education of girls, focusing primarily on girls in Africa through the WAAW Foundation, which Dr. Okarafor also founded.
As you consider where you make your purchases, today and every day, focus on showing your values through your buying choices. By being a conscious consumer, you’ll be able to help support growing businesses that contribute to the causes you care about.