“It’s never too late to get back on your feet though we won’t live forever, make sure you accomplish what you were put here for”
– Abigail Adams
As a women-owned small business, we are thankful for how far we’ve come in nearly ten years in business. We are inspired by the pioneering entrepreneurial women who have gone before us, and we strive to be that example for those who will come after us.
In light of Women’s History Month, we would like to honor five women of business who stand out as examples of perseverance, excellence, and success.
1. Abigail Adams (1744–1818)
Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, the 2nd president of the United States. She was his closest confidant and friend and was an activist for women’s rights and the anti-slavery movement. She encouraged her husband and the other founding fathers to “remember the ladies” while they were fighting for America’s freedom from Great Britain.
Abigail was also a savvy businesswoman and investor. She managed her family and their farm’s affairs while her husband traveled as a circuit lawyer, political revolutionary, and foreign diplomat. She increased the family’s prosperity through smart investments and capable business management skills.
2. Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919)
Madam C.J. Walker claimed the title of First Black Woman Millionaire in the United States.
Walker had anything but an easy life. Born to former slaves just years after the Emancipation Proclamation set them free, she was orphaned at age 7, married at age 14, and widowed at age 20.
Walker developed a scalp disorder which cause her hair to fall out. This struggle ignited her on a journey to revolutionize hair care for Black women. She developed a hair product that was a huge success. She sold her newly invented product in person in a way that inspired customer loyalty to her and her brand.
Eventually, she delegated the selling of her product to other women who she called “beauty culturalists.”
Madam C.J. Walker saw a need in the market, filled it, and in so doing, revolutionized the Black hair care industry and made history.
3. Katharine Wright Haskell (1874-1929)
Everyone knows of the Wright brothers, Wilber and Orville, but few people have heard of their younger sister Katharine who they credit as instrumental and essential in their entrepreneurial successes. She had a hand in conducting their business affairs as well as providing personal support and motivation.
Although she was very modest about her involvement in her bothers’ success, The World Magazine (New York) had this to say about Katharine in April of 1909:
“Few know what she has done. Few know how hard she has worked to make her brothers’ machine a working accomplishment. But the Wright brothers realize it all and pay her due tribute— hats off, then, to Miss Katherine Wright, who has ever been the mainstay of her brothers in their many efforts to conquer the air.”
4. Bessie Coleman (1892-1926)
Bessie Coleman was 11 years old when the Wright brothers successfully flew their airplane for the first time. Eighteen years later, she became the first African American woman pilot.
Bessie was born in Atlanta, Texas. She was one of 13 children born to former slaves Susan and George Coleman.
After World War 1, Bessie’s brothers came home and told her that French women were allowed to learn to fly airplanes. This sparked a desire inside her to become a pilot. She learned French and submitted her application to the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in Le Crotoy, France. She was accepted and received her pilot’s license on June 15, 1921.
Bessie became famous for accomplishing daring tricks with her airplane. She conducted flight shows and taught flying lessons across the country. She used her voice and influence to advocate for the underprivileged, refusing to perform at events if segregation would be enforced. She encouraged other African Americans and women to learn how to fly as well.
5. Brownie Wise (1913-1992)
Brownie Wise was the marketing genius and innovative saleswoman responsible for the success of one of the most common household brands – Tupperware.
As a single mother in the 1940s, Brownie worked as a saleswoman for a clothing shop and sold cleaning supplies on the side to earn some extra income. She was very successful at selling through at-home selling parties. So successful in fact, that she caught the eye of _ , the founder and owner of Tupperware.
Tupper hired Brownie as the company’s Vice President of Marketing, and implemented the effective home-party-selling method for his products. As a result, Tupperware sales skyrocketed.
Brownie’s true innovation was found in how she motivated her salespeople:
“Wise motivated her dealers by asking them to share their successes and expertise with one another. She ran a weekly newsletter for them and touted the idea of positive thinking, making Tupperware-selling as much a lifestyle as a job and empowering women who didn’t get recognition for doing household chores or caring for children.” (Source)
This approach to lifestyle selling set the stage for the mom-blog and influencer culture that are still so effective today.
Continuing the Legacy
At JR Bookkeeping our goal is to serve the underserved and to empower others to “accomplish what [they] were put here for.” We have done that and we will continue to do that, and we hope that you’ll join us in celebrating inspiring women of from all walks of life this Women’s History Month.
Re-share this post and tell us: What entrepreneurial women (past or present) have inspired you to fulfill your purpose?