7 Women-Run Companies That Are Helping to Change the World
Each of these businesses, owned by women, work toward philanthropic ends.
In celebration of International Women's Day, we've rounded up seven cool, women-run companies who are changing the world. Their ethical products, give-back initiatives, and emphasis on education are three (of many) reasons we've chosen to feature them.
Echoview Fiber Mill
Founded first as a farm in 2005, Echoview is now one of the country’s premier ethical yarn and fiber producers. Julie Jensen, the company’s founder, has turned the Weaverville, North Carolina business into the US’s first Gold LEED Certified fiber mill, meaning it leads the country in sustainability and environmental bonafides. The farm is home to fiber-producing animals like alpacas and merino sheep, housed in the comfiest of farms. The mill gets 50 percent of its power from solar panels, and the company makes it a point to provide a living wage for workers—not just the minimum, in an industry where the minimum (at best) is standard.
Kei & Molly Textiles
The high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico is home to Kei Tsuzuki and Molly Luethi, as well as their business, Kei & Molly Textiles. The company makes lovely dish towels, sponge cloths, and other fabric products, all screenprinted with beautiful, handcrafted designs. Philanthropy isn’t something Kei & Molly does on the side; it’s built in to the company’s core. The business is designed to provide on-the-job training, flexible hours, and dependable pay for Albuquerque’s immigrant and refugee population.
Local + Lejos
Sheeva Sairafi started out working for the parent company of TJ Maxx and Home Goods, but her solo venture is a little more adventurous. Sairafi created Local + Lejos—the latter word is Spanish for something far away—to bring artisan handicrafts from locations around the globe to customers. From spiraling woven bowls crafted by a cooperative in Rwanda to gorgeous Aztec-patterned pillows made by weavers from the famous Teotitlan del Valle in Mexico, there’s a wide range of products, but selling stuff isn’t the only goal. Sairafi also provides a bank account for every vendor, along with financial training. She also buys in bulk up front rather than as customers order the products, meaning that vendors get guaranteed income for their wares.
Related: Awesome Companies That Give Back
Lola, founded by Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier, sells hygiene products like tampons, pads, condoms, and lubricants, that actually tell you what’s in them. The tampons and pads are made from organic cotton, nothing else, and contain no fragrances that could cause allergic reactions. The tampons have either BPA-free plastic or flushable cardboard applicators, and you can opt for a monthly subscription. All nice! But the company is also active in getting feminine hygiene products to women who have trouble affording them. Since 2015, the company has donated over a million tampons in 27 states.
Threads of Peru
Describing itself as a “not-for-profit social enterprise” rather than a store, Threads of Peru markets woven goods made by largely indigenous women from Peru’s Quechua community. Weaving is an ancient craft in Peru, and Threads of Peru hopes that by selling Peruvian products abroad, they can attach value to them—and to the traditions of the Quechua-speaking people. It’s also one of the few ways that Quechua women can earn an income in the relatively remote high Andes.
Caroline Duell’s company All Good is best known for its sunscreens—but these aren’t ordinary sunscreens. The company not only uses organic certified raw materials, but goes above the organic requirements to avoid any materials known to cause problems for coral reefs, many of which are common in sunscreens. After all, sunscreen is often used near the beach, and makes its way into the water. All Good is also a certified B Corporation, meaning that it meets criteria for social and environmental good, and the company donates one percent of all sales to environmental causes.
Marketplace Handwork of India
Dating back to 1980, Pushpika Freitas and Lalita Monteiro have been working to ensure fair wages for female workers for longer than any other company on our list. The company sells fabrics dyed using traditional regional methods, but more important is who’s doing the dyeing. The artisans are mostly women, and are exclusively those who have endured various forms of hardship and discrimination. In addition to supplying an income, the Marketplace system also provides leadership and organizational training, including a computer lab and tutors.