Over the past few decades, women have transformed the eCommerce industry and built the foundation to which it stands upon. From female founders and marketplace executives to eCommerce engineers and marketers, women continuously shape and reshape the eCommerce landscape.
At Payability alone, women leaders like Mareike Turner, Director of Operations & CX, Vice President of Product, Maya Pochiraju, and our sixth employee, Director of Marketing, Alison Sperling, who has shaped our business since the beginning consistently bring innovation and transformation to our processes, products, and culture as a whole. While the women-led eCommerce SMBs we fund each day, scale their businesses and sell products on their own terms.
Inspired by the female leaders we’re proud to work with each day both as colleagues and as customers, we shine a spotlight on some of the countless women we admire throughout the eCommerce industry.
Now, let’s get started.
The Pioneers: Women Who Have Shaped eCommerce as we Know it Today
Austrian-born American actress, Hedy Lamarr, invented the basis for all modern wireless communications (WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS): signal hopping. [Smithsonian Magazine]
Computer programmer and logic designer, Mary Allen Wilkes, became the first home computer user in 1965. Wilkes worked on the LINC computer as a programmer and instructions author. We can thank her for both eCommerce and the ability to work from home. [Mashable]
From 1972 to 1989, Elizabeth Feinler pioneered what evolved into the modern-day internet — the network information centers (NIC) for the ARPANET, which became the Defense Data Network (DDN). [Refinery29]
Businesswoman Donna Dubinsky paved the way for the smartphone with the Palm Pilot. Mobile shopping here we come! [Mashable]
Celebrated business leader Meg Whitman became CEO of eBay in 1998. It had 30 employees and $4 million in revenue. On her first day, the website crashed. But, by the time Whitman left eBay 10 years later, it had around 15,000 employees, $8 billion in revenue, and a 5,600% rise in stock. She departed as a billionaire. [Business Insider]
Hugely popular UK-based marketplace, Not on the High Street, was founded by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker in 2006. Over a decade later, the business has an annual growth of 150% and sales are worth £100m. [DHL]
Harvard Business School graduates, Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founded Gilt Groupe in 2007 and pioneered the flash sale business model. [Fortune]
Rent the Runway was founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss in November 2009. The two met at Harvard Business School. Are we sensing a pattern here? [The Business of Business]
In 2010, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, also Harvard Business School graduates, founded the subscription box beauty company, Birchbox, giving way to the popular subscription box business model. [Racked]
Amber Venz Box founded the affiliate marketing platform RewardStyle in 2011 while looking to recreate her personal shopping business online driving over $1 Billion in sales to eCommerce retailers. [BoF]
In 2015, Jeff Bezos named Maria Renz, the top technical adviser to the Amazon CEO. [Vox]
Female Founders Funded by Payability
We wanted to take a moment to recognize a few of the many women entrepreneurs that build their eCommerce businesses, launch products, hire employees, and more with the help of Payability. It’s truly an honor to work with these women and thousands like them.
5Strands Affordable Testing: Co-founder, Lisa Blaurock, consistently suffered from health issues related to food allergies. After spending thousands of dollars looking for answers from traditional medicine and not finding them, she took a food intolerance test and it changed her life. She wanted to help others who face the same issues, so she developed a more affordable and accessible home allergy test. Her company now offers over the counter tests for adults, children, pets, and horses. They are available on Amazon and through her website. She describes herself as “Simply a mom on a mission who got frustrated with the system and desired to find a better way.” Using Instant Access to get paid daily for her Amazon sales, Lisa is now able to offer health insurance to all of her employees and pet insurance to their adorable office dogs. Watch Lisa and her team in action.
Wild & Gold Distributors: Entrepreneur Gina Goldring left her telecommunications job after 17 years and decided to become her own boss. She started selling on Amazon out of her home in Queens, New York. Gina began selling local brands that weren’t usually available nationally with the mission to bring “a little bit of New York to people who left New York.” As her business grew, Gina needed to improve cash flow in order to bring in more inventory faster, so she signed up for Instant Access and continued to scale on Amazon. When she needed even more capital to scale, but had trouble getting approved as a small business, Gina applied for her first Instant Advance and was approved in less than 24 hours. She credits Payability with helping her business get to where it is today. See Gina’s testimonial.
Gifts Fulfilled: Kim Shanahan founded an eCommerce business that truly gives back – both to customers and to the community. Kim’s gift basket assembly company provides jobs for people with disabilities assembling gift baskets to be sold on Amazon. Gift baskets range from a care package for a college student to Mother’s Day gifts to a surprise for a new baby. The ability to keep inventory in stock is the key to being successful on Amazon and Payability helps Gifts Fulfilled do just that. Watch Kim tell her story.
Michelle Skipper: Michelle from US Vet Connect Inc. sold online for years and has been a Payability customer since 2016. When she had a huge opportunity to buy inventory in bulk at a discount, but needed capital upfront, banks kept putting her on hold. Michelle was worried about credit pulls and that this growth opportunity was going to pass her by. But, Payability’s accelerated daily payouts for her Amazon sales kept coming every day, so she reached out to Payability to get an Instant Advance for her Shopify store, and within a day she had the capital on hand to make that bulk inventory purchase without a single credit check. Michelle has been able to keep up with growing demand and increase her profit margin. She used her success to give back to her community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she founded a non-profit CanTheCurb.com for local communities to coordinate contactless food drives to support neighbors in need. You can donate and set up your own food drive here.
Saint Chic: Gingie McLeod, Founder and CEO of Saint Chic, founded the company in 2011 in New York City. Her trademarked Paparazzi Visor™ has always been a top seller. But, as Gingie started to see a huge spike in sales as people had found the Paparazzi Visor™ as a stylish way to stop the spread of COVID-19, she needed additional capital fast to keep up with demand. Gingie found Payability and linked her Shopify store to qualify for an Instant Advance. With the funding from Payability, Saint Chic was able to keep customers happy and keep their business running as sales exploded.
Female eCommerce Influencers to Follow
Women entrepreneurs don’t just sell products online, they’re also influencers, coaches, mentors, and business leaders. Here’s a few female voices you’ll want to tune into today:
- Tatiana James
- The Brand Hustler
- Ecommerce Women – Selling on Etsy/Amazon/Shopify and Beyond Facebook Group
- The Hair Groupie
- Katie Melissa
- The Selling Family
- Nikki Kirk
- Lindey Glenn
What’s Next for Women in eCommerce?
Women drive tremendous eCommerce growth both as shoppers and as entrepreneurs. Women lead the way in social shopping and look to eCommerce as a more lucrative and flexible alternative to traditional jobs.
Today, eCommerce has the potential to level the playing field for women in the developing world [World Economic Forum]
Close to three-quarters of women business owners in a recent poll told American Express payment flexibility is a top priority when it comes to business growth in the next year. Nearly half plan to hire more full-time workers. [Business Journals]
Women will continue to create and sell products they wish were available to them. For example, when Dani Atkins couldn’t find a bikini top under $100 during a trip to Hawaii, she set out to create more affordable and stylish swimwear. Soon Dani and her partner Alex Babich bootstrapped their way to running their own million-dollar bikini company from their garage in Sydney, Australia. [DHL]
Minority women control 44% of women-owned businesses in the United States, up from 20% in 1997, according to Census data and projections by research firm Womenable. [Inc.]
The past, present, and future of eCommerce is female! There are countless women that have had an immense impact on eCommerce that have not been mentioned here. We salute you just the same. Thank you for building the eCommerce marketplaces, brands, supply chains, webstores, business models, and more that have allowed this industry to thrive during a global pandemic and beyond.
So, next time you place an order online and it arrives at your doorstep in two days or less, you have some truly innovative women to thank.