Take a look back at these fascinating female legends, how they triumphed in business, pioneering innovations in tech, beauty, business and more.
Mary Kay Ash
Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
Mary Kay Ash started with humble beginnings, selling books door-to-door while her husband served in World War II. After the war, the two split, and Ash found herself employed with Stanley Home Products, where Ash was snubbed for a promotion in favor of a man… so she did what any girlboss would do and built an empire. Retiring at 43, Ash set out to write a women’s business help book, turned winning business plan for the now Mary Kay Cosmetics. The Mary Kay marketing plan allows women to advance by helping others succeed, and is still thriving to this day.
AKA Amazing Grace, Computer Scientist
Grace Hopper was a scientist of the technical sport and was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944. This smartista was one of the pioneering bright minds advocating machine-independent programming languages which in turn led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages.
Fun Fact: Hopper is credited for coining the term debugging wherein she was hard at work on the Mark II Computer for the U.S. Navy, and a legit moth was stuck in a switch. When she was asked what was the hold up, she stated, something to the effect of, “Well we’re debugging the blasted thing.”
Madam C.J. Walker
African-American Hair Guru, Entrepreneur and First American Female Millionaire
Louisiana born Madame C.J. Walker was an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the first female self-made millionaire in America. In the business of beauty, Walker created hair products for African-American hair at a time when women couldn’t vote, and African Americans were legally discriminated against. You think you’ve got it hard, try those odds on for size. Walker passed in 1919 leaving a revolutionary business model behind for all races to follow and much of her wealth to black charities.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Pioneering British Photographer Known for her astonishingly good celebrity portraits
“I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied.” -Julia Margaret Cameron. Alluring words from this fierce femme photographer. Cameron took up photography at the relatively late age of 48. Her beautiful photography story reminds us that it’s never too late to start living your passions.
Take a look at Cameron’s wistful catalog here.
First Woman Inducted Into Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
Aretha Franklin, the glam gal we have to thank for songs like “R-E-S-P-E- C -T” and “Natural Woman” was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, ever. Franklin’s roots lie in Detroit, Michigan, where she began singing gospel music at her father’s church, and didn’t stop there. Franklin has amassed an impressive 18 Grammys and countless karaoke anthems to ahem *sing* to on girl’s night.
Ann Smith Franklin
American colonial newspaper printer and publisher
This boss babe inherited her husband James Franklin’s business publishing The Newport, Rhode Island Mercury. Franklin was the first American woman to write an almanac, you know that thing we used to use before the Google and the internet was invented. Pretty sweet.
Fun fact: Franklin is sister-in-law to Benjamin Franklin
Gertrude Caroline Ederle
First woman to swim across the English Channel.
In 1926, Gertrude Caroline Ederle became the first woman to cross the English channel (between 30 and 40 miles of swimming while fighting the choppy tides). How’s that for a morning swim? Elderle crossed the rough waters in 14 hours and 31 minutes, smashing the last record held by a man. Legends of today like Diana Nyad, have this legendary yardstick of quality to look up to.