The food industry is full of women in positions of great power — take for example, Irene Rosenfeld and Indra Nooyi, CEOs of Kraft Foods and PepsiCo, respectively, or Carolyn Doerle, president of Doerle Food Services, LLC. Yet, while the glass ceiling appears cracked and fractured in certain areas, the club of women who have actually founded industry empires (or any companies, incidentally) is alarmingly small. With that in mind, here is a collection that highlights a handful of successful ventures that have excelled in the food business, all created by women.
With the internet making it easier to get business plans in front of venture capitalists, the time is better than ever for creative-minded, entrepreneurial women to get in the game. A few of the founders on this list have done just that, such as Alexa Andrzejewski and Soraya Darabi, the co-founders of Foodspotting, and Aihui Ong, the founder of Love With Food. Both of these companies tap into the strength of basic human desires — using social interaction in the case of Foodspotting and shopping and helping those in need in the case of Love With Food — then combine those elements with the universally attractive power of food.
Historically speaking, there are a number of heavy-hitting food companies that were founded by men, but would never have existed without the contributions of several key women. Gerber Products, for instance, was founded in 1927 by Daniel Frank Gerber, the owner of a canning company in Fremont, Mich. Gerber was inspired to manufacture baby food when his wife, Dorothy, started making her own food for their infant daughter.
The women on this list were chosen because they have or will change the entire landscape of the food industry. While they all exemplify the qualities of strength and tenacity, there are a handful of women that are true trailblazers. Jean Nidetch is a housewife from Queens, N.Y., who had the notion that she and her friends might have an easier time losing weight if they got together and formed a community of support — as a result she founded Weight Watchers in 1963. Another homemaker, Alice Larse, developed a recipe for butter cookies that she would share with family friends — 11 years ago she decided at the age of 70 to start producing the cookies for retail purchase. Alice's Stick Cookies are now available in 48 states across the country, sold in stores such as Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca.
As the food industry continues to evolve, the success stories of these business owners should act as a source of great inspiration for future founders of any age.