The intensity of the drive and passion for their businesses make these five entrepreneurs inspirational to both women and men. However, their paths to success were marked by some challenges that are exclusively female. The 2012 Fierce Women Entrepreneurs discuss the perception of female CEOs in the start-up community, having illusions of success, and the advantages of being a woman in a traditionally male industry.
Name: Shenan Reed
Company: Morpheus Media, a CREATETHE GROUP Company
Why she’s fierce: Starting a digital media agency in 2001 was the equivalent of running into a burning building. However, Reed’s and her husband Alex Golimbu’s risk of starting Morpheus Media in the middle of the internet bubble bursting paid off. Getting in while others were running out of the digital ad industry helped Reed build their company up to more than 100 employees and land lucrative clients, such as The New York Times, LVMH, The History Channel, and Marc Jacobs. In 2011, Morpheus was sold to CREATETHE GROUP, an e-commerce, interactive, marketing, and technology solutions provider for luxury brands, where Reed remains chief media officer. Read more.
Name: Anita Lo
Why she’s fierce: In the hyper-competitive, male-dominated world of New York City fine dining, Lo is among the few successful women owners. Her Greenwich Village restaurant, Annisa, has not only survived, but thrived for 12 years in this fickle scene. She is one of only 10 female chefs in the United States to earn a coveted Michelin Star. In 2001, she was named by Food & Wine magazine as one of 10 “Best New Chefs in America.” Read more.
Name: Alisa Volkman
Why she’s fierce: After the birth of her first son, Volkman realized the reality of raising children doesn’t look like the images in parenting magazines—full of sunny playrooms, smiling children eating vegetables craftily cut up to look like dinosaurs, and preschool preparedness checklists. Volkman founded Babble.com in December 2006 with her husband, Nerve.com founder Rufus Griscom. The concept was to create content that dispelled some of the false advertising around parenting and serve urban, irreverent parents. For any parent who has received the stink eye for caving to public tantrums, carrying an old backpack instead of a designer diaper bag, or climbing the play structures at the park, you know the courage it takes to step out from under the peer pressure behind perfect parenting. Read more.
Name: Kellee Khalil
Why she’s fierce: Martha Stewart? The Knot? Brides? As far as Khalil is concerned, there is no competition for Lover.ly in the wedding media market. Lover.ly is a visual search engine (like Pinterest) for all things wedding—from colors schemes to shoes, from cakes to rings. The site differs from Pinterest in that instead of hosting user generated content, all of the images are sourced from some of the most popular wedding bloggers online today. Lover.ly then categorizes the images by vendor, model name, and type of item, making it easy for users to create a scrapbook of their dream wedding and providing the information necessary to make purchasing each detail just a click away. Read more.
Name: Blake Brody
Company: Blake Brody
Why she’s fierce: The Blake Brody line of footwear may look charming and dainty, but they are high-tech and utilitarian. Brody’s shoes are more performance gear than ballet flat, and before she launched her company in December 2012, performance shoes for Pilates and yoga did not exist. While there may have been no direct competition, she faced the colossal challenge of proving to her fellow Pilates enthusiasts the necessity of a product they had never heard of. While she had previously worked at a financial services company doing media and marketing, she had help with the manufacturing aspect of her business from her father, a former CEO of Sag Harbor, a women’s apparel producer. Read more.
Photographed at OFFSITE.