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Leaders come in all shapes and sizes — but powerful women spearheading innovative female-led brands is an inspiring business trend we’ve seen more of in the last few years. 

Female empowerment and helping women around the world face inequality is a noble cause — but one that can also be harnessed for business. 

Marrying purpose and profit is the name of the game for these exciting brands putting female issues on the map and changing lives.

Girlstart for a better start

The fact that women are chronically underrepresented in certain industries like engineering is no secret. Getting girls into math and science starts at a young age — cue Girlstart.

Based in Austin (the unofficial tech capital of the world), Girlstart has made its mission to empower girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. 

As well as running education programs, Girlstart host fun summer camps to help young girls have more positive experiences around STEM subjects.

Usually underrepresented in STEM, Girlstart has had a significant impact on encouraging girls to go onto study STEM subjects.

This stat taken from their 2018 annual report is telling:

“34% of Girlstart girls enroll in advanced/Pre-AP science courses after program participation– contrasted with 11% of nonparticipating girls.”

Getting girls and women to think more broadly about their educational and career goals is an admirable goal. 

These girls are going to grow up and represent a new age of female innovation in business and technology — we can’t wait to see what they do next. (Check out other industries women are innovating in).

Girlgaze is subverting the male gaze

How about addressing the ways in which women are traditionally represented and portrayed in the media? Or how the manifold ways women actually experience the world and their gaze are routinely marginalized?

Using technology, Girlgaze is helping female-identifying and non-binary creatives find clients and change the ways in which women are traditionally portrayed.  A tech platform meets a community with a cause.

CEO Amanda De Cadenet launched the platform at Cannes to considerable hype, but it’s been a long time coming (originally starting off simply as the hashtag #girlgaze on Instagram in 2016).

A global community of female creatives, the admirable goal of Amanda and her team is to “close the gender pay gap one job at a time”.

Getting more diverse viewpoints into the creative industry and behind the lens could help unlock a whole new wave of advertising media.

Knix — underwear for every woman

Knix, a Canadian underwear brand, has made a name for itself by featuring ‘real’ women as part of its advertising campaigns selling Knix’s popular bras and period panties.

In addition to body positive marketing, Knix actively invests in high-performance fabrics and technology in order to create bras and period-proof underwear that work for women’s busy lives. 

Post-surgery bras, nursing bras, sports bras — the true complexity of the female experience is embodied in this revolutionary underwear that can take women from the boardroom to yoga class in no time.

Headed by impresario Joanna Griffiths, Knix has recently launched an empowering fertility podcast unpicking important issues around female fertility.

The Wing: coworking re-imagined

Seeing its roots stretching right back to 20th-century women’s clubs, The Wing is changing the way that women co-work and use business space.

Creating highly desirable female-only coworking spaces in some of the biggest business cities in the world, The Wing’s CEO Audrey Gelman is routinely praised for her inclusive company policies. 

A ‘Wing’ workspace is about so much more than just work — it’s about community and empowerment. It’s amazing what can happen when women supporting together rally together.

The Wing now has locations across the US and in London, with more opening up soon (including Toronto). Follow them on Twitter for more updates.

Dough: wallet feminism

Advocating ‘wallet feminism’, Dough is an exciting e-commerce platform where women can discover subscription businesses ran by other women.

Co-founded by Anna and Vanessa, Dough was born out of the pair’s frustration with the female funding gap, and a real desire to create business impact at ‘wallet-level’.

Looking to close the equity, C-suite, and capital gaps is one tough ask — but Dough has a  great grassroots mentality and philosophy that seems to be working. 

Creating a community of both brands and buyers and tapping into the subscription trend are all savvy business moves from this dynamic duo.

Women supporting other women is a common theme at work here. Can you think of any other awesome female-led brands who deserve a shoutout?

Read more — what four leaders say are the keys to their success.