Over the last two trying years, we have seen a surprising-but-inspiring number of women starting up their own businesses.
Our 1,000+ Stories Project has received entries from new business owners of all kinds — life coaches helping their clients find peace and purpose in difficult times, jewelry designers creating one of-a-kind pieces, and newbie entrepreneurs debuting sustainable clothing lines and organic beauty products. There is a definite trend towards creative, artistic and purpose-driven companies, with consumer goods leading the way, followed by a mix of professional industries.
Many women specifically mentioned that the pandemic influenced both their new careers as entrepreneurs and the products or services they offer.
Here’s our list of top industries* in a post-Covid world.
*We ask women to select an industry from 20 industries when submitting stories to our 1,000+ Stories project. The list is based on submissions within the past 2 years, many of which are businesses that started since 2020.
It’s the top industry that we observed women starting businesses in during the pandemic, and “consumer goods” covers a broad range of products – everything from pet accessories and candles, to textiles and decorative pieces. Perhaps not surprising considering all the lockdowns, startups focused on home goods have proven to be particularly popular. Jennifer DeKoeyer Crump, for instance, wanted to help consumers give their homes a refresh with her line of handmade homewares, Zatka Decor. Ana Martins, meanwhile, was looking for a place to buy ethically made kitchen goods, but couldn’t find one, so she started Pantree. And in the more general consumer goods category, Erin Tucci turned a pandemic hobby into a small business, selling hand-drawn stickers, keychains, posters and tee shirts of sports players.
Perhaps many of the female life coaches who started up during the pandemic – and we heard from a lot of them – were tapping into a collective sense of languishing and a desire for helping others through it. Claire Darr became a transformational life coach after a health diagnosis forced her to get “laser focused” on what she really wanted to do with her life. Suzanne Wylde was already working in the wellness industry as an acupuncturist, but noticed that clients needed to address the underlying emotional issues causing physical pain, so she became a certified holistic coach. And Leanne Cooper was so inspired by the effects of working with a life coach herself after a breakdown, that she decided she wanted to do the same for other women.
Apparel & Accessories
Dressing from the waist up for Zoom screens, virtual happy hours and online school doesn’t seem to have led to a decline in clothing and accessory sales. We’ve noticed that designers are leaning more towards sustainably sourced fabrics and ethical production practices, but also – quite poignantly – designs that mean something to them personally. For Sarulatha Gajapathy and Fearon DeWeese, the beginning of the 2020 shutdown became the push they needed to follow their creative dreams. Gajapathy started Bohozena, a line of tee shirts, yoga apparel and accessories all sporting positive sayings and inspirational quotes while DeWeese decided to pay homage to her “NorCal” (Northern California) roots with her Hella Shirt Co.
Other Professional Services
Women setting out to help other women has spilled over from life coaches into the professional sphere. Melita Cepin is an organizational psychologist for female entrepreneurs, and during the pandemic she started Uella Women Founders Emotional Care, helping women in business navigate the emotional aspects of the C suite. Helen Adams was already working as a coach when she noticed how many women needed help with mindset blocks surrounding money. In 2020 she started The Female Business Revolution to help female entrepreneurs reach their financial goals.
Marketing & PR
Marketing & PR turned out to be the fifth most popular industry for new women business owners during the pandemic, and we heard from many who used their pre-existing skill sets to start their own companies. Nantale Muwonge saw how COVID-19 ripped through Black communities with particular force and decided to help Black-owned businesses increase their online sales with her firm, Black Girl PR. Caitlin Copple Masingill was also drawn to using her background in PR to strike out on her own, and specializes in helping women leaders get the visibility they need with her business, Full Swing Public Relations.