In a recent interview, Gary Head from Hiscox described that times of economic difficulty and increased redundancies can be the best times for wannabe entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. This comes at a time when degree courses in business and entrepreneurship are more accessible and popular than ever. Of course, today you don’t have to be a man in order to become the big cheese of a successful empire; and so to prove it to you I have compiled a list of my top five female entrepreneurs.
5. Mary Kay Ash: The founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics is a good place to start, not only because of her impressive success (by the time of her death in 2005 the company was established in 37 countries), but also because of her direct influence on US business practices. Controversially she considered the ethic of reciprocity the most original principal of Mary Kay and famously offered pink Cadillacs to her best salespeople. However since then, she wrote many books on her business and success and her practices have been adopted by many. Her works are on the curriculum at Harvard Business School.
4. Jenna Jameson: Perhaps best-known for her acting abilities in ‘Up and Cummers’ parts 10 and 11, Jameson has also established herself as a successful business woman. In 2000 she founded the highly successful internet pornography company ClubJenna and has since written a best selling autobiography entitled ‘How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale’. More recently she has become a great self-styled merchandising image which has appeared on guitars, sex toys, and an official Jenna Jameson Action Figure.
3. Coco Chanel: After learning to be a seamstress as an orphaned child, Chanel went on to become the founder/owner of one of the most successful perfumes and enduring fashion label. After leaving the orphanage, Chanel worked at a tailors shop and developed an interest in designing hats. Her first shop, however, was a failure but with a renewed sense of direction and confidence she opened a hat shop in Brittany which started her career in earnest. Further Chanel boutiques followed and her famous No. 5 perfume (the first designer fragrance) was released in 1921.
2. Anita Roddick: Founder of The Body Shop and green activist, Dame Roddick and her husband began their first steps to retail success in 1976. Roddick was famously outspoken and suffered a fair share of criticism due to her anti-Barbie campaign and opposition to the Iraq war. However, this did not hinder The Body Shop’s success and since its humble beginnings in Brighton the retail chain has reached a further 60 countries.
1. Oprah Winfrey: More than just a talk show host, Oprah Winfrey is now regarded as the richest self-made woman in America due to her successful television career and her media business sense. In 1986 The Oprah Winfrey Show began and quickly became one of the highest rated talk shows in the country and is planned to run until at least 2011. Winfrey has also had a prolific film career, founded her own production company (Harpo), and co-founded the television network ‘Oxygen’.
Sarah Maple writes about distance learning and adult education