Women who Made it Big! Powerful Entrepreneurs

From a Kitchen Table or only $3,000 of start-up capital, from teddy bears to high fashion. These business women have started business’s from scratch, employ hundreds of people, have turned their dreams into reality and created multi-million dollar empires. It all started from an idea they believed in.  These women worked hard and long hours with focus and determination. They didn't get a free ride or an easy route. They persevered through tumultuous times and sleepless nights that business owners often encounter. These women are true inspirations and have proven it can be done. 

Doris Christopher

 Founder, Pampered Chef

"The kitchen store that comes to your door", That's what the successful Pampered Chef company calls itself. The company started in Ms. Christopher’s small Chicago basement back in 1980. Pampered Chef  now has 70,000 independent consultants who conduct 1 million shows a year. The Company is currently owned by Billionaire Warren Buffet.

Doris Christopher founded The Pampered Chef from the basement of her  Chicago home in 1980. She was thinking of business ideas that would allow her to stay at home with her two young daughters. Ms. Christopher realized the need for time saving kitchen utensils to make cooking quick and easy. The Pampered Chef idea was born. With the support of her husband, Ms. Christopher turned her idea into reality.  More than twenty years later, at the time of Warren Buffett’s acquisition, the company had grew into a $700 million enterprise. The company has never had any debt, besides the $3,000 that Ms. Christopher and her husband borrowed against a life insurance policy  to launch her business.

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Tory Burch

Founder Tory Burch

Tory Burch, CEO and designer launched her clothing company in February 2004 as a lifestyle clothing collection. She started her successful company from her kitchen table and within seven years she has 60 worldwide retail stores, about 1,200 employees, and revenues expected to top $500 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Burch, a New York socialite and a mother of three worked in PR for other fashion designers and had no design experience when she launched her company with her husband.   She quickly showed she could be successful at starting a small business.  With a limited budget, she did much of the start-up work herself. She hired a firm to design her famous logo and she opened her first store in New York in 2004, selling out almost the entire inventory the very first day. Her logo has become "iconic" and widely recognized.

Although Ms.Burch admits to having no design training and is quick to credit her design team, she seems to have an instinct for what resonates with female customers and good business acumen. The 43-year-old recently sold a minority stake in her firm in late July to Tresalia Capital, an investment group run by another powerful business woman,  María Asunción Aramburuzabala, a  Corona beer heiress and one of the most richest women in Mexico.

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Maxine Clark

Founder, Build a Bear

Maxine Clark is one of the true innovators in the retail industry. At 47 years old, Ms. Clark left a successful corporate career as President at Payless Shoe Source in 1996 to start her own business, Build-A-Bear Workshop.  In 1997, she founded Build-A-Bear Workshop, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. As a young girl Ms. Clark had memories of always having a teddy bear in her hand.

In four years, Build-A-Bear Workshop had grown to 75 stores and over $100 million in revenues. By 2007, the company had sold over 50 million bears. Since launching its first workshop in St. Louis in 1997, the business has now expanded with sales of $437 million. The company has been acclaimed for the quality of its working environment, especially as a workplace for teenagers.

build a bear store

Natalie Massenet

Founder, Net-A-Porter

Natalie Massenet, Chairman and Founder of Net-A-Porter had a single good idea that turned into a worldwide success in a short amount of time. A former fashion journalist who wanted to go into business for herself, at first tried selling luxury candles but was unsuccessful. Then she saw a gap in the market and her online luxury fashion store was born.  Net A Porter became one of the leading success stories of the dotcom boom. 

When Natalie first had the idea of Net-a-Porter, she knew nothing about it, she was pregnant and she launched the company at the time when the dotcom bubble was bursting and her advisers saw failure. When the online retail site went live, Natalie and her small team of employees were based in a Chelsea flat, where the bedrooms were full of stock and the bath was full of Net-A-Porter's famous gift boxes that are sent out with each order.

Natalie Massenet, 44, has turned her 10-year-old Net-a-Porter into one of the most successful high-end designer e-tailers in the world. Net-a-Porter  started with over $1 million investment dollars and after eight years, business was booming. By 2006, the site had revenues of $73.9 million, They have received single orders online as high as $40,000. Though she remains as executive chairman, Massenet last year sold her stake to Swiss luxury goods group Richemont for an estimated $472 million, netting her about $70 million

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Jennifer Flavin- Stallone

 Co-Founder, Serious Skincare

When Jennifer Flavin-Stallone was 26 she was introduced to a skincare system made for her that gave dramatic improvements to her skin and helped with her acne. Impressed by the skincare system ,she wanted to sell it because she believed in it so much. With no experience in skincare, she partnered with her esthetician and decided to start a new business and take control of her life.  She lacked the capital for start-up and marketing and refused to ask her husband, actor Sylvester Stallone for the capital. Ms. Flavin-Stallone insisted on making it on her own.

Ms. Flavin-Stallone contacted the home shopping network and pitched her ideas to them. The Home Shopping Network was impressed with her pitch and gave her airtime to sell her products. The skincare line eventually expanded, grossing $1 billion over the past 15 years and became the best-selling skincare line in HSN history. Holding the HSN sales record for a product selling 90,000 units in one weekend. Ms. Flavin-Stallone continues to run her billion-dollar skincare empire and constantly adds new products. She recently started a new company with her husband called seriesse skincare.

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