Made in America by Women Entrepreneurs!

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How many entrepreneurs can you name? How many are women? It may be more than you think. Oprah Winfrey,  former talk show host, and Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, are two who come to mind. Both are in the communications field, and both are highly successful.

Many artists use their fame to sell their own lines of perfumes, cosmetics, furniture, clothing, glasses, sunglasses and many other products. Elizabeth Taylor was one of the first to have her own line of perfume. Her White Diamonds is still popular. Sara Jessica Parker has parlayed her love of shoes into her own line that’s sold at the most exclusive stores, as were the Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin shoes she wore on Sex and the City. But not everyone is famous. Most entrepreneurs had an idea, a passion and went with it.

Gardening and entrepreneurship share common roots. Harmony Foliage is a greenhouse complex occupying 21,000 square feet, owned and operated by Deb Cox and Robin Jordan. The greenhouse was established in 1976 and incorporated in 1988. They grow African violets and other gesneriads, rex begonias and rhizomatous begonias. The wholesale company, located in Sorrento, Florida, employs four people.

The Peacock Cottage was lovingly grown by Laura Perdomo and her husband, Frank. The retail business sells African violets and fancy plants, fairy garden supplies, Dandy Pots and other supplies for indoor plants. Laura teaches classes on plants, container design and other important aspects of plant culture at her Ocala, Florida, location. She also tours the Central Florida area participating in craft shows and garden fairs.

Moving from gardening to cooking, Chinese Southern Belle’s Natalie Keng greets visitors with “Ni Hao, y’all!” A native of Smyrna, Georgia, of Chinese descent, Natalie has parlayed her mother’s recipes from China into a business. Her sauces are made from fresh, natural ingredients such as Vidalia onions, peaches and ginger. Natalie teaches cooking classes, hosts office health and wellness dinners, travels the state to participate in food festivals and writes about topics such as food justice. Who can resist sauces with these sexy names: My Sweet Hottie, You Saucy Thing and Wild, Wild East?

Women entrepreneurs make their mark in clothing, too. Lily Trotters compression socks are one such brand, a compression sock like no others. Remember your grandma’s hose, heavy, thick and beige? Susan Costa-Walston has created a line of socks named Dots-a-Plenty, Candy Stripes, Lotus Om, Totally Solids, Holiday S’mitten and Course-It. The socks are perfect for wearing under any clothing style and are easy to put on or take off. They can be used by athletes, business travelers, pregnant women and those who sit or stand for long periods. The socks are sold online and at boutiques around the country.

Great Bear Auto Repair is a family car mechanic shop headquartered in Flushing, New York. Auto mechanics is not an area in which women are expected, and when Audra Fordin took over the family business from her father in 1998, he continued to micromanage her for years afterwards. In 2008 with the Great Recession, Audra faced major challenges in keeping the business running. She started workshops called Women Auto Know to educate women about car maintenance, and she now live streams webinars and YouTube video workshops. She’s also developing a line of products that are related to her workshops.

Women aren’t always considered movers and shakers in the Silicon Valley tech world. However, Therese Tucker of BlackLine, an accounting software company, broke the gender gap and owns a company now worth more than $1.5 billion. She has become one of the only female CEOs leading a public tech company. Her clients include Coca-Cola, Under Armour, United Airlines and eBay, among others. The company is poised to take over an international market of $20 billion. Tucker is a striking, dynamic woman with pale pink hair, which she readily admits is a provocation to her male colleagues.

Millennials love digital media, and Amy Schmittauer, known on YouTube as Amy Landino, is an award-winning YouTuber, best-selling author and professional speaker. After years in the corporate world, Amy decided to go with her passion and created a YouTube series that helps people live the life they want. Her videos have had more than 10 million views from over 200 countries. Amy lives in Columbus, Ohio, but travels the world helping businesses learn how they can get the online attention they deserve.

These are just a few women entrepreneurs in America. Women entrepreneurs are present in all areas of our lives. They create jobs for others, add new products to our economy and are a vital part of the Made in the USA movement. ■

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