From hair products to hem lines, famous female leaders like Madame CJ Walker and Carolina Herrera have shown us that your net worth is only as big as your perseverance. Whether it’s breaking into male-dominated industries or conquering taxes, pull out your pen and paper because we’re bringing you a wealth of knowledge from famous female leaders in history.
Madame CJ Walker: Hair Products that Hail Millions
One of the most famous female leaders in history is Madame CJ Walker. She was born December 1867 and became the first Black female millionaire in America, a result of her innovative entrepreneurship and perseverance. Madame CJ Walker created the “Walker System” of hair care which changed the trajectory of African-American hair products. Walker was known not only for her business endeavors but also her generosity and philanthropy, often donating to African American causes. A central figure during Black History Month, Madame CJ Walker continues to be celebrated as one of the most famous female leaders in history.
Carolina Herrera: From Venezuela to the White House
Another famous female leader in history is Venezuelan-born fashion designer Carolina Herrera. Born in January 1939, she is the visionary behind the Carolina Herrera brand. Herrera’s designs have been worn by First Ladies, including Laura Bush, Jackie Kennedy, and Michelle Obama, and other notable celebrities, like Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, and Lucy Liu. In 2008, the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave Herrera a Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.
If you want your own entrepreneurial toolkit (for becoming the next Carolina Herrera) or are looking for books by Hispanic authors, then Jefa-in-Training should be your next read. Jefa-In-Training provides you with the knowledge to turn your passion project into a successful business and includes interviews with top Latina leaders in creative and entrepreneurial spaces. If you want to follow in the steps of Madame CJ Walker and read successful stories about women of color, make sure you add Rum Rebels to your cart. Rum Rebels profiles over a dozen famous female leaders in the history of rum while offering nuggets of wisdom to women trying to break into the spirits industry.
Q+A with Authors Ashley K. Stoyanov Ojeda and Martyna Halas
MANGO: What is some of the best advice you’ve gotten from a female leader about starting or running a business?
ASHLEY: When I was first starting out, someone told me to listen to my gut while building my business. If something didn’t feel “”right””, then it probably wasn’t the best way to move forward. This has helped me in many situations when I’ve had to make big decisions. Sometimes societal/industry pressure can have a huge influence on the way we think about things but at the end of the day, as founders, we have to look out for our team, community and ourselves. It’s rarely simple, but it is important. And the only one who will truly know what move to make is you!
MARTYNA: I think all ambitious women experience these feelings at some point in their careers: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, fear. We must eliminate these limitations as they are just that: limitations that others impose on us or that we impose on ourselves. The women we interviewed for Rum Rebels rejected the notion that women can’t or shouldn’t make spirits and went after their dreams no matter what challenges lay ahead. They all echoed some important lessons that we should take to heart:
Believe in your abilities. Do not hesitate to take that opportunity. Trust your instincts. Develop your skills. Surround yourself with the right people. Build your network. Support other women. Be resilient and relentless. Our voices matter, and our input matters. Diversity is what makes us humans stronger and the world more flavorful.
Curious for more? Click below to learn more about female leaders and meet the authors behind our Women’s History Month Book Series