In honor of Mother’s Day, we compiled a list of mothers who have turned their passions and problems into bona fide empires. Despite raising families and facing innumerable challenges, these women have become titans in the food world, with restaurants, countless cookbooks, and innovative products that have changed the ways that families across the United States eat.
Though she first came to fame as an actress in films such as Honey and Fantastic Four, Jessica Alba has turned her fame into an organic baby products empire, The Honest Company. In addition to diapers and housewares, The Honest Company also offers infant formula and multivitamins for moms. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is worth an estimated $1.7 billion.
The Southern cooking queen started off with humble beginnings. After a devastating divorce and battles with agoraphobia and panic attacks, Deen started a catering business with her sons, which then boomed into a culinary empire. At her peak, Deen had several shows on the Food Network, a houseware line, food products at Walmart, and several cookbooks to her name. Though she had a high profile meltdown, Deen has bounced back with her own Roku channel.
Yes, mall cookie chain Mrs. Fields really did start with a Mrs. Debbi Fields. In 1977, Fields opened up her first cookie store in Palo Alto, California. Initially, she had to give her cookies away for free to gain buzz, but 25 years later, she’s franchised out the $450 million company and written three cookbooks and one autobiography, all while being a mother of five and step-mother to an additional five children.
Though she may be best known as a reality TV personality, Bethenny Frankel has turned her mom know-how into a food and drink empire with her SkinnyGirl brand, which produces calorie-conscious drink mixes, popcorn, and salad dressings, and more. She’s furthered her empire with an eponymous lifestyle blog.
Of course this major baby food brand was started by a mother. After learning how arduous it can be to make your own vegetable-based baby food from scratch, new mom Dorothy S. Gerber teamed up with her husband, who owned a local canning company, to sell her homemade recipes to other busy moms. The rest, as they say, is history.
Many new moms struggle with breastfeeding, but it isn’t widely talked about. Emily Kane had problems producing enough milk for her newborn daughter and read about lactation cookies, which feature natural galactagogues to encourage milk production. She developed Milkmakers for moms on the go. Her lactation cookies are now on sale at Target, Babies R Us, Whole Foods, and more retailers across the country.
After mother of three Melissa Kieling went through a divorce, she found herself in a pickle. She had no work experience outside the home and three hungry kids to pack lunches for. She merged these two problems together by creating PackIt, freezable bags that keep food and beverages cold through and through. Though she had no experience in marketing, product design, or sewing, Kieling’s PackIt brand exploded. In seven years, PackIt has expanded to a 12-product line that has sold over five million units.
Mealtime was a major struggle for Catherine McCord as a new mom. She couldn’t find resources for feeding children simple, nutritious dishes. So, like any smart lady, she created one in Weelicious. Since then, McCord has had two more babies, written handy cookbooks for moms, dads, and children, and created a series of helpful videos for parents struggling to find a mealtime routine.
Zhena Muzyka launched herself from a pregnant single mother with $6 to her name to the founder of a multi-million dollar organic tea company, Zhena’s Gyspy Tea, which she initially started with a cart and only grew with more employees so she could provide her son with much-needed health insurance. Though she was ousted from the company after the economic crash of 2008, Muzyka rebranded herself as a lifestyle guru with a podcast, book, and life coaching company.
If there’s one mom who’s the queen of the food and lifestyle world, it’s definitely going to be Martha Stewart. The caterer and entertainer published her first book Entertaining in 1982, when her daughter Alexis was just 7 years old. Since then, Stewart has expanded her influence in the realms of food and entertainment, from books to magazines to TV shows, websites, and everything in between.
A mother herself, Shazi Visram watched friends struggle to provide their children with healthy, organic foods and vowed to help them get quality meals without slaving away in the kitchen for hours. Thus, she launched Happy Family. In its 11 years, the company has grown to a full line of organic foods for babies, toddlers, kids, and adults.
This Oscar-nominated actress launched her lifestyle brand Goop in 2008 as a newsletter. Since then, Gwyneth Paltrow has expanded Goop into all things luxurious, including a vitamin line, a recipe section, and an entire guide to detoxing. She’s also written three cookbooks, including her latest, It's All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook.