December 29, 2020
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.
13 women-owned small businesses in California to Support now
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 California businesses run by fierce women. Though this list is far from exhaustive, here are a few of our favorite women-owned brands in the Golden State.
Minority Women–Owned Businesses
1. Three Babes Bakeshop
Contrary to popular belief, Three Babes Bakeshop is, in fact, owned by only two babes: Lenore Estrada and Anna Derivi-Castellanos. Their love for pie and fresh produce resulted in the launch of their pop-up pie shop in San Francisco. Rolling out the crust, prepping fruit, mixing fillings, and baking thousands of pies is how they got their name out there. Soon, they moved to a big stall at Cuesa's Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and also added cookies to their menu.
The female-owned business thrives off of selling its signature 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 after trying the delectable baked goods, sign up for the live online pie classes.
2. Harlow and Grey
Cousins Jeanne Chan and Gloria Wong established Harlow and Grey in 2014, creating a line of delicately designed partyware that turns events into occasions and moments into memories. One of San Francisco’s favorite female-owned brands, 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 collections of coordinated elements that stand out. All of the products are exclusively designed in-house and go through lab testing for food safety and contact. Creating a market for chic, modern, and disposable partyware, Harlow and Grey enhances your regular party with its stylish and affordable products.
3. 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 women-owned business sells products that are vegan, plant-based, non-GMO, and gluten- and paraben-free—it’s so natural that you could eat it if you really wanted to. The company’s products include face oils, body butters, and lip balms that treat your skin with care and kindness. Buying from Drifter Organics is a win-win: You’re supporting a small, women-owned business while also cleansing your skin from toxic chemicals. What’s not to like?
Women-Owned Companies in Northern California
4. The Cass Clutch
Created by designer Debra Szidon, The Cass Clutch is a female-owned business specializing in bags with impeccable quality and the right amount of edge. The mother of three was inspired by a purse she picked up years ago that she regularly carried with her. With the idea that a bag should make people’s lives easier, Szidon 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—these bags are designed to last. Complement your clutch with some accessories that add more flair, and you’ll be stylin’ in the Golden State.
5. Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
Founded by gardening aficionado Annie Hayes, Annie’s Annuals and Perennials is a 3.5-acre mailorder and retail plant nursery specializing in rare and unusual plants. Based in Richmond, the shop’s plants are grown the old-fashioned way in 4-inch pots without the use of growth-regulating hormones. The female-owned business carefully selects plants to grow based not only on their fragrance and beauty, but also on the charm they add to every garden.
The largest selections of California native annual wildflowers and perennials are found right here at Annie’s. Offering a wide selection of succulents, sunflowers, vegetables, herbs, and shrub—not to mention gardening gifts and supplies—the woman-owned business celebrates nature’s finest features in the best way possible.
6. Monastery Made
Based in San Francisco, Monastery Made was started by Athena Hewitt after she experienced the power of aromatherapy and natural skincare products 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.
Hewitt began treating her patients with various methods of oil cleansing, water-free moisturizing, and alcohol- and salt-free skincare items. She also introduced a collection of natural skincare products containing essential oils with non-irritating properties. Now, she sells cream serums, gels, moisturizers, and face and body oils in their purest form. The woman-owned business incorporates all-natural ingredients—including ambrette seed, clary sage, damask rose, and lavender—into each product.
7. Alyssa Nicole
Another women-run business in the Bay Area is Alyssa Nicole. Founded in 2010 by Sonia and Alyssa Casares, a mother-daughter duo, the haute couture company is now recognized as one of the leading fashion designers in the state. 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 movements—and everything is sustainably handcrafted in California. Alyssa Nicole is now one of the most coveted emerging designers in the Golden State.
8. Lady Falcon Coffee Club
Reflecting 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 out of a desire to focus on coffee as a sensual experience of enjoyment and pleasure. (She also embraced her femininity and enlivened coffee aisles with her bright pink coffee bags.)
Besides being a coffee roaster, the female-founded company also sells brewing equipment and gift packages. Maguire even created a chart to help guide customers to pick the best coffee for their palate. Find the vintage Lady Falcon Coffee Club truck at Alamo Square every weekend.
Women-owned Organizations in Southern California
Coolhaus is a female-owned business that specializes in making our frozen dessert dreams come true. Founded by Natasha Case and Freya Estreller in 2009, the company uses quality ingredients to achieve the creamiest texture—regardless if the treat is dairy-free. Now, Coolhaus is the leading brand in creating premium cookie sandwiches and mouthwatering pints.
Offering everything from classic to innovative flavors, Coolhaus’ options are endless. The dairy-free Mocha Marcona Almond Fudge is arguably the richest, most exquisite ice cream you’ll ever have. The Aunt Gladys Yellow Cake Batter? A familiar flavor with a twist of candied ginger. And you have to try the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sammie featuring a large scoop of luscious sea salt caramel ice cream sandwiched between two delicious snickerdoodle cookies. Trust us: One taste of Coolhaus, and you’ll be craving the ice cream for years to come.
10. 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 pieces are inspired by California’s blue skies and vibrant colors, adding to their elegance. The designs have been worn by numerous celebrities, including Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Beyoncé, and Jennifer Lawrence.
11. The Giving Keys
Offering necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and keychains with inspirational words engraved on them, The Giving Keys’ products are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. Founder Caitlin Crosby came up with the idea when she started wearing an old hotel key and got a locksmith to engrave the word love on it. Soon, she created her own line of key necklaces with inspirational words and messages. The best part about The Giving Keys is that it’s a pay-it-forward company employing people transitioning out of homelessness.
Trina Spear and Heather Hasson are the women behind Figs, a company that makes top-notch medical apparel. Heather came up with the idea when she saw that her friend and nurse practitioner spent her entire shift wearing scratchy and uncomfortable scrubs. So, Heather leveraged her background in fashion and partnered with co-founder Trina to enhance, improve, and transform the healthcare experience for medical professionals.
The women-owned business provides scrubs made from the finest materials—each product is core-spun for maximum durability to withstand the demands that doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals face every day. Thanks to Figs, modern healthcare professionals can save lives while wearing soft and technical fabrics sewn to perfection.
13. Dazey LA
Founded by Danielle Nagel in 2016, Dazey LA is a woman-owned apparel and accessory brand. Nagel combined her love for art, photography, and fashion to create this unique clothing line featuring hand-drawn designs inspired by 1970s posters and vintage graphic art. Everything Dazey LA offers is handmade—and only 100-percent certified-organic cotton is used to craft the items sold by this sustainable and ethical fashion brand. Each product also carries a women-empowerment message, which may be about anything from self-care to inclusivity. The company manages to successfully spark conversations and create a community of empowered women. Dazey LA is more than just a clothing line; it’s a calling.
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