The future of small business may very well be female. From around the world, we are hearing more and more stories of the contributions women are making to building businesses, powerhouse industries and vibrant communities.
According to the American Express OPEN 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, there are an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., up 45% since 2007. In fact, over the past nine years, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate five times faster than the national average. That’s powerful stuff. And it’s a great privilege to work for a company like American Express, one that’s as passionate about supporting these businesses as I am.
In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday to help independently-owned businesses with their most pressing need – getting more business. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to Shop Small to help boost sales for small businesses during this critical shopping weekend. Since then, Small Business Saturday has evolved into a movement. People are leveraging the Shop Small message and spirit to shine a light on the contributions that small businesses make to communities – not just one day a year, but year round.
Earlier this year, I took on a new role – Vice President of Small Business Saturday at American Express. Like many company employees, I’d been involved in supporting the campaign with excitement from the periphery and spend on the day; but now at the center of it, I’m inspired and impressed every single day, in particular by the female business owners that I’ve met. There is nothing small about how these women think or the goals they set. They are motivated to deliver unique value for their customers while providing their communities with an experience that draws people in from far beyond their immediate neighborhoods.
Among those is Kevan Christine, owner/curator of Made in California, an eco-friendly, small-batch body and home goods brand based in San Diego. Kevan’s company was built with insights from her own journey to treat and maintain her health with natural products and remedies, and has since evolved into a bustling business.
Christine grows her own ingredients, sews her own products and is fervent about sharing the love with other businesses by sourcing her materials from local entrepreneurs. For Small Business Saturday, she’s organizing a pop-up event for San Diego small vendors across industries to bring together the best of what the city has to offer.
Another woman that is challenging the status quo is Radha Agrawal, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Daybreaker, the popular early-morning movement that encourages authentic connection through music, dance and shared experience. Daybreaker was born out of a late-night conversation Agrawal and her co-founder had about how nightlife partying had become a predictable and negative experience. So they set out to create a place where anyone could dance, let loose and unabashedly be themselves in a safe, positive environment. Today, these dance parties fueled by coffee, green juice and positive vibes are held in the early morning hours around the world, and focus on starting people’s days with intention and camaraderie.