Today is like any other for us. Here at Isabelle Fox we are a small team of women making clothes for women by women. We use every day to try and improve the lives of our fellow sex, even if only by a small amount. Moreover our story, as you likely know, is rooted in the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. This should not, however, detract from the power that can be found in a single, unified day through mass communication of an idea: equality. What is equality, though? It is easy to define in a textbook sense, but how does it manifest itself in our day-to-day lives? Well, in our humble opinion – having had a chat about it – one of the ways one can view the fight for equality (because we can probably all agree that we haven’t quite reached peak equality just yet) is through the prism of commerce. The old adage of putting-your-money-where-your-mouth-is has a basic truth to it; business opens so many doors, behind which are opportunities to engage, influence and champion one or many people. So with no further ado we wanted to give you our top ten (though there are many more) female-founded businesses, and we have added a couple of extras at the bottom too. Here you will find bakeries, ex-bankers, tea-makers as well as bra and brownie purveyors. Take a look and leave your favourite female-founded businesses in the comments below. Just remember, today is only one of 365 days a year when you can use not only your wallet, but your voice, your skills, your silence, your influence, your vote, your property – the list goes on – to drive the equality movement forward.
A social enterprise based in East London, the bakery employs women from socially- and economically-disadvantaged backgrounds so that they can learn essential skills to excel in the working world. They invest in women by offering training and guidance so that they can realise their dreams, support themselves and their families and break the cycle of poverty, crime and abuse that may have preceded them. And if that weren’t good enough for you, they make and sell the most delicious cakes you have ever come across.
Just launched, the AllBright Club is the first all-female Members’ Club of its kind that focuses on the education and promotion of working women. It hosts events, exhibitions, debates and much more, which allow the female founders of today and tomorrow to connect, learn and grow together. The club is part of the AllBright network, which includes the AllBright Fund and Academy, aimed at educating and investing in women entrepreneurs.
Set up by mother and daughter duo Charlotte and Jess, 100% Natural Foods started off with the pair baking healthy but delicious brownies in their kitchen in Brighton. Each brownie is free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, and is made in an eco-friendly factory in the Cotswolds. The pair started off by stocking at Infinity Foods in Brighton but are now stocked at Sainsbury’s, Whole Foods and Harrods – to name but a few – where customers can buy sweet treats without the nasty additives.
Launched by Terri and Katie in the midst of their early mid-life crises, the pair has taken the UK by storm with their beautifully whimsical floral arrangements. They cater for weddings, businesses and everything in between, but they also provide beautiful gifts in the form of ‘a bunch and a book’ where the recipient receives one of their bouquets alongside new reading material – perfect. They are a two-man band that proves that hard work, creative talent and a can-do attitude can take you a long way in business.
A veritable clothing kingdom, Tanya Dimitrova is a small but perfectly formed manufacturer of clothing in London, UK. Tanya herself has 22 years of experience and her factory has made clothes for Jigsaw, the White Company, Reiss and many more. Tanya prides herself on running a factory that is 100% ethical, open and transparent, but which also employs craftspeople with the most exceptional skills. And, guess what? They make all of our clothes too.
Co-founded by Jessi Baker in 2013, Provenance is a social enterprise aimed at informing shoppers where, how and by whom products are made. The platform uses block chain technology to present information about supply chains, encouraging trust and transparency. The fact that the information is open fodder means that businesses have committed to making public their corporate practices, ensuring that any claims made by businesses are open to challenge. As Jessi says, ‘We buy factory farmed meat and clothes made by slaves, and that’s ludicrous’ (Guardian, 2014).
Founded by Ursel and Joey, High Mood Food consists of two central London cafés with the USP of providing gut-healthy foods (anything fermented such as sauerkraut, kefir and sourdough) alongside a healthy diet. They are the first café to bring the science-backed theory that improving gut health can cure myriad ailments to the masses of central London. They host regular talks and classes, and they work alongside many other start-up brands to create a network of open and transparent food manufacturers who want to improve how and what we eat.
Each and every bra and pair of knickers is made using reclaimed fabrics as well as environmentally friendly plastics and packaging. They operate a minimal waste policy, which includes using shredded materials that cannot be reused as stuffing for bras and other purposes. Founded by two friends, Faith and Cindy, they have also simplified the bra-fitting process to help women find the perfect fit for them.
There is no replacement for a good cup of tea. Emilie at Good & Proper has been working since 2012 to bring better tea to the masses. She launched her tea bar in Clerkenwell in 2017 where they also hold events, markets and classes to educate people on the innumerable uses and benefits of the humble tea leaf. They also have an active programme of sustainability and food waste reduction. The perfect pit stop, try their delicious sourdough crumpets with a Matcha coconut latte (Isabelle’s favourite) the next time you’re in the Farringdon area. Not local? You can buy their teas online.
Buffy Reid and her father founded the Scottish-made knitwear brand in 2013. Hailing from Donegal, the pair are passionate about craftsmanship, materials and traditional techniques. Using only natural yarns and generations’ worth of techniques from both Scotland and Ireland, the brand creates chic, modern knitwear that will last for years to come. Well worth the investment.
A few extras…
A Little Bird, Daisy Allsup – the definitive insider’s guide to London
She Must Be Mad, Charly Cox – the poetic voice of the millenial generation, you can preorder her book of poetry and prose now
The Fringe of It, Liv Purvis and Charlotte Jacklin – hilarious and insightful, this pair epitomise the very notion of sisterhood
Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton - not just romantic love but the platonic love for women, too