Los Angeles Leading Ladies: Female Entrepreneurs Making Moves

Hedley & Bennett Apron HQ in Vernon | Photo: Hedley & Bennett, Facebook


Los Angeles has long been a haven for creatives, attracting in droves actors, musicians, comedians, writers, artists, and singers all in pursuit of their respective dreams to its palm tree-laden streets. But these hopeful stars aren’t the only ones discovering that the City of Angels is the perfect place to launch their careers: A multitude of entrepreneurs have built and continue to successfully lead their own businesses in L.A., and many of them are women.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting companies backed by female founders who are changing the game in L.A. and inspiring us along the way.

Honest Company Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba at Honest Company | Photo: @honest, Instagram

Jessica Alba - The Honest Company

The Honest Company was founded by actress Jessica Alba out of the need for a go-to brand for parents and families looking for trusted products to bring into their homes. Available in stores (Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Target et al) and online, the company makes diapers, formula, bath and body care, cleaning supplies, vitamins, gifts, and more that are eco-friendly and non-toxic. “I founded The Honest Company because I wanted safe, effective products that perform,” says Alba on the company’s website. “After all, you shouldn’t have to choose between what works and what’s good for you.”

Ellen Marie Bennett at Hedley & Bennett

Ellen Marie Bennett at Hedley & Bennett | Photo: @hedleyandbennett, Instagram

Ellen Marie Bennett - Hedley & Bennett

Ellen Marie Bennett launched her kitchen-wear empire, Hedley & Bennett (3864 S Santa Fe Ave, Vernon 90058) while working as a line cook at trendy L.A. restaurants Bäco Mercat and Providence when she recognized a need for high-quality workwear for restaurant workers. Bennett launched her collection with only $300 when she got the chance to design new aprons for Bäco Mercat workers. Today, Hedley & Bennett is a culinary lifestyle brand whose products are handcrafted from start to finish and built to last. Hedley & Bennett recently announced a partnership with fellow SoCal lifestyle brand Vans to create a line of shoes perfect for the kitchen.

Emily McDowell & Friends

Photo: Emily McDowell & Friends, Facebook

Jen Bilik, Emily McDowell and Sara Stein - Who’s There Group

The Who’s There Group comprises three Los Angeles brands, all of which were created by women, for women: Knock Knock (Jen Bilik), Emily McDowell & Friends, and People, Places & Things – formerly Sisters of Los Angeles (Sara Stein). Together, the three brands specialize in creating books, gifts, and décor that “celebrate our very real lives, hearts, and funny bones.” While each brand carries its own distinct voice, an abundant amount of humor and derision ties them together. Available at specialty stores like Papyrus and Lundeen's.

“I do not think Jungalow would have been born if it weren’t for Los Angeles.” - Justina Blakeney
Justina Blakeney founder of Jungalow

Justina Blakeney, founder of Jungalow

Justina Blakeney - Jungalow

Designer, artist, mother, entrepreneur and UCLA graduate with a passion for color, pattern, and plants, Justina Blakeney and her award-winning design blog, Jungalow.com, have become the go-to sources for bohemian design inspiration. In 2016 Blakeney launched her Justina Blakeney Home lifestyle brand, which includes a collection of home products such as furniture, rugs, pillows, and bedding, and a new travel line that recently launched at Target. Blakeney is also a New York Times best-selling author of The New Bohemians and The New Bohemians Handbook. “The diversity of cultures, styles, plant-life and architecture in this city inspires my work daily,” says Blakeney. “I do not think Jungalow would have been born if it weren’t for Los Angeles.”

Caitlin Crosby founder of The Giving Keys

Caitlin Crosby, founder of The Giving Keys | Photo: @caitlincrosby, Instagram

Caitlin Crosby - The Giving Keys

Founded by singer/songwriter and actress Caitlin Crosby, The Giving Keys is a jewelry company making necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and keychains from repurposed keys stamped with inspiring words. The company employs people transitioning out of homelessness in L.A., providing them with full-time work at a livable wage and benefits, like paid time-off for housing, education, and case management appointments. Crosby, who grew up in Hollywood, has served as the spokesperson for Oprah’s top 10 favorite charities at her “Live Your Best Life” events, and presented at conferences including TEDx, Saddleback Business Summit with Arianna Huffington, Create & Cultivate, and more.

Available in-store at CorePower Yoga, Planet Blue, Nordstrom and more.

Jen Gotch, founder of ban.do

Jen Gotch, founder of ban.do | Photo: Jen Gotch

Jen Gotch - ban.do

Ban.do is an L.A.-based design house operating in sunny Los Angeles with a 40-person dream team that curates and creates gifts and accessories that are fun, stylish, and inspire joy. Recently, founder Jen Gotch and ban.do made mental health awareness a focal point with the launch of the “feel better” part of their website, which offers resources and support for those questioning or struggling with their mental health state. Gotch, an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness who was diagnosed with depression at age 23, has also collaborated with jeweler Iconery to launch a line of necklaces that encourage dialogue about mental health, with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting Bring Change to Mind. Gotch is also host of the podcast "Jen Gotch is OK…Sometimes."

Available in-store at Nordstrom locations and boutiques throughout L.A.

Jaclyn Johnson founder of Create & Cultivate

Jaclyn Johnson, founder of Create & Cultivate | Photo: @jaclynrjohnson, Instagram

Jaclyn Johnson - Create & Cultivate

Before turning 30, Jaclyn Johnson had sold her first business, invested in multiple female-owned startups, and launched her second company, Create & Cultivate – the fastest-growing online platform and offline conference for millennial working women who want to “create and cultivate the career of their dreams.” Since 2013, Johnson and her team have produced over a dozen conferences in cities across the country, including L.A., hosting thousands of women for workshops, mentor sessions, and panels featuring powerhouse female speakers such as Issa Rae, Chrissy Teigen, and Gloria Steinem. Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Johnson is also the author of Work Party: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams, and host of the “Work Party” podcast.

Danielle Nagel founder of Dazey LA

Danielle Nagel, founder of Dazey LA

Danielle Nagel - Dazey LA

In 2016 young designer, photographer, and feminist Danielle Nagel launched Dazey LA as a way to create her own “dream job” of combining her passion for art, photography, and fashion. Branded as “clothing for people who care,” Nagel’s line of graphic art apparel is hand drawn and handmade to order in L.A, with all tees made from 100 percent certified organic cotton and carrying a message of empowerment for women. “Dazey LA is very rooted in this city,” says Nagel. “The idea was inspired by and birthed right here; the first place I felt truly free to follow my dreams and be a creative.”

Available in-store at Shop the Canyon in Franklin Village and Chris + Mary in Santa Monica.

Clique Brands founders Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr

Clique Brands founders Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr speaking at Google L.A. | Photo: @cliquebrands, Instagram

Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr - Clique Brands Inc.

Named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, Clique Brands Inc. was launched in 2006 as a fashion blog titled Who What Were by Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, formerly of Elle. Together, Power, who serves as CEO, and Kerr, chief ideation officer, grew Clique into a full-blown media, marketing, services, and consumer goods company headquartered in Los Angeles with more than 200 employees and offices in New York, Minneapolis, London, and Sydney. In 2017, Clique partnered with Target to create JoyLab, an activewear line that is stylish, functional, and versatile.

Susan Sarich at SusieCakes in Brentwood

Founder Susan Sarich at the original SusieCakes in Brentwood | Photo: @susiesarich, Instagram

Susan Sarich - SusieCakes

SusieCakes has been serving up delicious cakes and other sweet treats in SoCal since 2006, when founder Susan Sarich (dubbed "Susie" by her two beloved grandmothers, Mildred and Madeline) opened her first location in Brentwood (11708 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles 90049). She now operates more than 20 locations throughout California and Texas, and in 2016 was the recipient of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Greater Los Angeles award. Sarich’s ingredients for her one-of-a-kind desserts are inspired by the classic recipes of her grandmothers, with whom she’d share a daily glass of milk and freshly baked treat. It’s Sarich’s philosophy – and one that we can totally get behind – that “cakes should not be reserved only for…special occasions.” So what we’re saying is, if you’re reading this today, go have some cake.

Alli Webb founder of Drybar

Alli Webb, founder of Drybar | Photo: @alliwebb, Instagram

Alli Webb - Drybar

Drybar started as a side hustle in 2008 for founder Alli Webb called Straight-at-Home, which delivered in-home blowouts to customers in L.A. Following an explosion of interest in a service that focused on one thing and became the best at it – blowouts – Drybar opened its first salon in Brentwood. They’ve since successfully expanded to include 100+ locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, including 26 in SoCal. Webb has also added a number of accolades to her list of accomplishments, including Fortune’s “40 under 40” and Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.” In addition, in 2016 she published The Drybar Guide to Good Hair for All, and recently expanded to launch Squeeze, a new massage experience that opened its first location in Studio City earlier this year.