October 06, 2020
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In an era where women are realizing #timeisup on inequality and feeling increasingly empowered, the number of women-owned businesses continues to rise in California, and incredible females are behind many of the state's most beloved companies. From acclaimed chefs such as Tanya Holland and Tamearra Dyson to legendary executives like Sheryl Sandberg, women across California are breaking stereotypes in their industries and forging new paths for women to follow.
The best way to create lasting change and back female entrepreneurs is to buy their products or services. So, leverage your spending power and help small, female-owned businesses in the Golden State and beyond. Whether you want to support women-owned restaurants and food companies or female-led fashion and clean-beauty brands, you can feel good about spending your money at these 10 California businesses run by fierce women.
women-owned small businesses in California
1. Drifter Organics
Drifter Organics was founded by mother-daughter duo Dawn Marie and Micaela Hoo in Oakland. Due to Micaela’s lifelong chronic illnesses and inability to find products that wouldn’t irritate her skin, her mother took it upon herself to create custom body butters infused with essential oils for her daughter. When Micaela’s skin cleared up thanks to the high-quality skincare products, Drifter Organics was born.
The female-owned business sells products that are vegan, plant-based, non-GMO, gluten- and paraben-free—if you wouldn’t eat it, then you probably wouldn’t put it on your face. Products include face oils, body butters, and lip balms that treat your skin with care and kindness. Buying from Drifter Organics not only supports a women-owned small business, but also cleanses your skin of toxic chemicals.
2. Alyssa Nicole
Another inspiring women-run business owned by a mother-daughter duo is Alyssa Nicole. Founded by Sonia and Alyssa Casares in 2010, the haute couture company is now recognized as one of the leading fashion designers in the Bay Area. Alyssa has been designing clothes since she was 16; after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, she began her line as a handcrafted ready-to-wear collection.
Conceiving designs that embody exclusivity, Alyssa creates ladylike silhouettes by using lightweight materials that form graceful movement. Sustainably handcrafted in California, Alyssa Nicole has evolved into a demi-couture collection and is one of the most coveted fashion brands in the Golden State.
3. Monastery Made
Based in San Francisco, Monastery Made was established by Athena Hewett after she experienced the power of aromatherapy and natural skincare in the Greek Cyclades. Inspired by her grandmother’s holistic recipes for purifying and healing skin, she spent years studying and practicing skincare before opening her own studio.
Hewett started treating her patients with various methods of oil cleansing, water-free moisturizing, and alcohol- and salt-free skincare. She also introduced a collection of natural skincare products containing essential oils with non-irritating properties. Now, she sells cream serums, gels, moisturizers, face oils, and body oils in their purest form. Keeping her grandmother’s legacy alive, the woman-owned business incorporates ingredients such as ambrette seed, clary sage, damask rose, lavender, and many other all-natural elements.
4. Ariel Gordon Jewelry
While working as a Hollywood publicist in 2009, Ariel Gordon Maffei launched her business from her Santa Monica apartment. She wanted to create jewelry that could be a wardrobe staple and transition well, so she began making highly customizable pieces designed to be layered and collected over time.
Ariel Gordon Jewelry focuses on the intersection of traditional craftsmanship and modern design using the best raw materials. The woman-owned business sells high-quality jewelry that’s handmade with love. While browsing through the shop, you'll notice how the products were inspired by California's blue skies and vivid colors, adding to their elegance. The designs have been worn by numerous celebrities, including Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lawrence.
5. Revival Rugs
Combining vintage style with affordable pricing, Revival Rugs brings authentic and inexpensive Turkish and Moroccan rugs to your home. The women-owned business was co-founded by two friends in Oakland. Exploring Turkey’s impressive history in rug making, the pair traveled to remote cities to build a network of artisans and collectors to supply unique and elegant vintage pieces.
Revival Rugs specializes in products that stand the test of time—the company sells rugs that looked good a century ago and still will for millennia. The rugs are made by hand using high-quality, long-lasting materials and tried-and-true techniques but have a reasonable price tag. Brightening your space with their classic appeal, Revival Rugs’ products never go out of style.
6. Three Babes Bakeshop
Despite its moniker, Three Babes Bakeshop is owned by only two babes: Lenore and Anna. Their love for pie and produce resulted in the launch of their pop-up pie shop in San Francisco. Rolling out crust, prepping fruit, mixing fillings, and baking thousands of pies is how they got their name out there. Soon, they moved to a big stand at Cuesa's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and added cookies to their menu.
The thriving female-owned business is known for its key lime and strawberry rhubarb pies, chocolate chip cookies, and vegan blackberry crumbles. Satisfying appetites one pie at a time, Three Babes Bakeshop also has secret off-menu breakfast pastries waiting to be consumed. If you're motivated to bake like a pro, sign up for the online pie-making classes.
7. The Cass Clutch
The Cass Clutch is a female-owned business specializing in bags made with impeccable quality and just the right amount of edge. Designer Debra Szidon was inspired to start her company after her favorite bag—a purse she picked up in a vintage store years earlier and regularly carried with her—started to fall apart. She decided to make a new one, but as a mother of three, she desired a better and more functional version; so, she found a team in the Bay Area who worked with her to create the line.
Although simple in nature, The Class Clutch has a flexible design that can hold a laptop and everyday essentials. Also creating accessories that add more flair and design to the bags, Szidon ensures that the products are designed to last. With perennial hues complementing the bags, The Class Clutch features the Golden State’s iconic color palette in its designs.
8. Lady Falcon Coffee Club
Offering a glimpse into the spirit of San Francisco, Lady Falcon Coffee Club is a craft-roasted coffee and cascara tea company hailing from Ocean Beach. Handmaking coffee the old-fashioned way, the woman-owned business was established by Buffy Maguire, who wanted to focus on coffee as a sensual experience of enjoyment and pleasure.
Harnessing the spirit of originality, Maguire sells her products in pastel pink coffee bags and serves her caffeinated beverages out of her Instagram-worthy coffee truck. Roasting beans in a flavorful way, Lady Falcon Coffee Club also guides its customers to pick the best coffee for their palate with the help of a chart. Find the vintage coffee truck at Alamo Square every weekend.
9. Harlow and Grey
Cousins Jeanne and Gloria established Harlow and Grey in 2014, creating a line of delicately designed partyware that turns events into occasions and moments into memories. One of our favorite female-owned brands in San Francisco, Harlow and Grey offers simple yet stunning party solutions. From colorful lunch napkins and cake toppers to paper garlands and banners, the company has everything you need to host a successful party.
With modern party goods inspired by fashion, graphic design, and pop culture, the store features pretty collections of coordinated elements that stand out. All products are exclusively designed in-house and go through lab testing for food safety and contact. Creating a market for chic, disposable partyware, Harlow and Grey enhances any party with its stylish and affordable products.
10. Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
Founded in Richmond by gardening enthusiast Annie Hayes, Annie’s Annuals and Perennials is a 3.5-acre nursery specializing in rare and unusual plants. The plants are grown the old-fashioned way: in four-inch pots without using growth-regulating hormones. The female-owned business carefully selects plants to grow and features the largest selections of California native annual wildflowers and perennials. Offering a wide collection of succulents, sunflowers, vegetables, herbs, and shrubs—as well as garden gifts and supplies—Annie’s celebrates nature’s finest features in the best way possible.
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