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- Female entrepreneurship is on the rise in 2020, and women in Europe are leading the way in various retail and product-based businesses.
- They are running companies that offer everything from medical cannabis and customized blockchain technology, to luxury sex toys and male skincare products.
- Cassandra Stavrou, the cofounder and CEO of snack company PROPER, led her team of 50 employees to £30 million in retail sales just last year.
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Female entrepreneurship in Europe is accelerating. According to a recent study, conducted by Rose Review in 2019, £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. Whilst currently only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female, there’s been great strides made in the last few years to encourage and support female entrepreneurship.
Beahurt’s 2019 gender diversity study proposed that an increased number of support systems in place for female founders — from female-only VC firms to specialist accelerator programs — will help level the playing field over the coming years. Retail in particular is experiencing a female-led boom: With better access to capital and a surge in interest in women-led tech, many women are excelling in product-based businesses.
Here are 10 female retail founders to watch in 2020. With drive, determination and vision, they’re the new industry players challenging the status quo.
1. Valentina Milanova, founder of Daye
Valentina Milanova is the founder and CEO of female health research and development company Daye. She’s on a mission to bridge the gender gap in medical research, raise the standards in female health products and services, and normalise the conversation on female health. Milanova has developed the world’s first anti-cramps tampon, which uses industrial hemp. The company is also fast-tracking the launch of two new products during COVID-19, a vaginal probiotic and a contraception delivery service.
At 25 years old, the Bulgarian solo founder secured backing from A-list venture firms, raised the largest seed round in Europe, recruited top talent, and launched her company’s first product to market in under 12 months. Daye provides a personalised tampon delivery service, designing its own machinery to produce CBD-Infused and naked tampons in a CO2 neutral facility, employing women from the criminal and care system.
2. Karine and Stephanie Coccellato, founders of ARCHIMAN Skincare for Men
Karine and Stéphanie Coccellato are French entrepreneurs and founders of ARCHIMAN, a new brand of grooming products for men, which shakes up all the rules by offering a range of skincare products based on natural ingredients.
Karine started her career by launching URBAN DECAY in Europe and Middle East and positioning the brand in the top five biggest growth cosmetic brands globally. Stéphanie joined her to help with the business and team development, and together they have created a brand that is environmentally-friendly with a cult following.
3. Olivia Wollenberg, founder and CEO of Livia’s
Whilst studying for a masters in neuroscience at UCL, Olivia Wollenberg was diagnosed with severe food intolerances. She struggled to find indulgent treats that were made with natural ingredients, and thus spotted a gap in the market for indulgent plant-based, free-from treats that never compromised taste. In 2014 she founded Livia’s, a company on a mission to revolutionise the sweet snacking market.
Fast-forward to today, with the support of an ambitious and supportive team of 15, Livia’s has become the UK’s fastest growing free-from treat brand, with distinct product ranges sold online and in 5,000 UK stores. Since launch, Livia’s has seen triple digit growth YOY, with £4 million in retail sales in 2019.
4. Leah Park, cofounder and COO of Cannaray
Leah Park is cofounder of Cannaray, the UK’s largest medical cannabis and CBD company. Cannaray creates CBD products developed by world-leading experts, including oral drops, capsules, muscle balms, and skin creams, backed by the latest generation of science.
The only female member of the Cannaray founding team, Park helped secure £7.8 million in the Series A funding round before the products had even launched and acquired a number of other businesses. Cannaray is now worth £28 million — and the company has an ambitious plan to IPO in the next 18 months.
5. Pippa Murray, founder of Pip & Nut
Pippa Murray is the founder of Pip & Nut, an award-winning food brand that launched in January 2015. Over the last five years, she’s been shaking up the healthy food and drink sector with her range of naturally nutritious nut butters and nut butter cups. Pip & Nut is now the fastest-growing nut butter brand in the UK and is a certified B corporation.
As a self-confessed peanut butter addict, Murray had the inspiration for the brand after searching, unsuccessfully, in the supermarkets for a range of peanut butters that were free from palm oil. With no options available, she started making her own natural range of products in her kitchen, before trailing them at Maltby Street Market. Today, Pip & Nut can be found in over 5,500 stores around the UK and Ireland.
6. Delia Lachance, founder & CCO of Westwing
Munich-based entrepreneur Dalia Lachance cofounded Westwing, a shoppable interior design magazine, in 2011 after being inspired to create an online interior design store that offered affordable prices. She worked previously as editor for ELLE and ELLE Decoration magazines.
Westwing is now present in 11 European countries and generated €267 million in revenue in 2019. Lachance has been voted one of the 100 most influential business women in Germany, and shares her eye for design with 158,000 followers on Instagram.
7. Leanne Kemp, CEO & cofounder of Everledger
Kemp is the CEO of Everledger, a company she founded in 2015 to increase transparency and sustainability in global supply chains. Combining blockchain, AI, IoT, and NFC technologies, Everledger introduces transparency to sectors hampered by unethical and unsustainable practices, such as the diamond and gemstone industry, fast fashion, and electric batteries.
Everledger recently raised a $20 million series A, led by Chinese tech giant Tencent, and is working with a number of notable brands including Alexander McQueen, WeChat, and Alrosa. Kemp is cochair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing, and takes part in the Global Future Council on Blockchain. She also leads work streams at the Global Blockchain Business Council, cochairs the World Trade Board’s Sustainable Trade Action Group, and is on the IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors.
8. Lea-Sophie Cramer, CEO of AmoreLie
At only 28, German entrepreneur Lea-Sophie Cramer has achieved a lot. Formerly the vice president at Groupon’s international division, Cramer is now CEO of online erotica site Amorelie, which sells everything from lingerie to sex toys.
The online retailer stocks over 20,000 sex toys and has delivered to over 1.5 million customers across Europe. In 2017, the company’s reported revenue was €56 million, giving the company a good slice of the sex toy industry.
9. Cassandra Stavrou MBE, cofounder & CEO of PROPER
Cassandra Stavrou is the cofounder and CEO of PROPER, the UK’s largest independent snack brand. Having started out with Cassandra tossing corn kernels in a refashioned cement mixer in 2011, fast forward nine years and PROPER have become a dominant force in snacking — found in 22 countries around the world, selling some 4 million packs of popcorn and lentil chips every month.
Listed by The Financial Times as the 5th fastest-growing company in Europe in 2018 and with retail sales last year of £30 million, Cassandra and the PROPER team of 50 passionately believe that business growth should not come at the expense of building a dynamic and responsible company.
10. Corinne Vigreux, cofounder of TomTom
Corinne Vigreux is a French business executive and entrepreneur. She is a cofounder of the Dutch consumer electronics company TomTom, where she has been Managing Director of its consumer business unit since 2008.
Based in Amsterdam, Corrine sits on many notable boards, including the Board of the French Chamber of Commerce and is cochair of the Dutch Chapter of Women Corporate Directors. She has also been bestowed the highest honour in France, the Legion d’Honneur.