10 Female Founders of Plant-Based Companies Making the World Better
In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month, which both take place in March, we want to celebrate amazing women who are making a difference in the plant-based realm, improving health, the planet, and animals as founders of vegan companies. As far as we're concerned, every day is a chance to show respect and appreciation for these amazing female entrepreneurs, but this piece is a toast to the women who are moving the needle toward making it easier than ever to live a plant-based lifestyle and love it.
We applaud anyone who follows their passion to launch a business and grow that venture into major economic successes. These 10 women inspire us to follow our passions, so we hope that you read these mini-profiles and think: What can I do or want to do to make a difference, and do good while doing well?
1. Pinky Cole: CEO of Slutty Vegan and Founder of Pinky Gives Back
Aisha "Pinky" Cole took plant-based fast-casual dining by storm with the success of her popular vegan burger joint, Slutty Vegan, with several locations in Atlanta. At her restaurant, you can enjoy the "sluttiest" meatless burger you've ever tasted with incredible toppings like vegan bacon, cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and her signature secret sauce. There's no surprise that celebrities from all over like Snoop Dogg and Usher love Pinky's soul food spunk, including our Creative Advisor, Jermaine Dupri, who is a regular at the fast-food chain. The entrepreneur is looking to expand her brand beyond her home city, saying, "We are about to branch out outside of Atlanta and have Slutty Vegans everywhere," in an interview with CNN.
But, Cole's hustle doesn't stop there. She founded a nonprofit organization called Pinky Gives Back, which helps "generations of color to win in life, financially, and in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams." Tune in to the conversation with Cole about business strategy on her Instagram, and learn from her success as a Black-owned woman-founded entrepreneur with a strong passion for helping others.
2. LA Dunn: Founder of Black Girls Eat
LA Dunn made the switch to a mostly plant-based diet to lessen pain in her body and reduce the inflammation. But she is the first one to tell you that this is a journey and rather than label herself plant-based she wants to emphasize that by leaning into plant-based foods she has felt better and now wants to help others try to make that change as well.
Not only does eating more plant-based foods make her feel healthier, but she has more energy and is living pain-free, but she also found her passion for helping others eat more plant-based foods to be healthier. LA developed her blog Black Girls Eat as a way to connect with Black women and families who want to make healthier food choices and eat more plant-based as well.
On the blog, you will find content focused on healthy recipes, easy meat-alternative swaps, informational podcasts, what to buy for a healthier diet, and most importantly, love and support from LA. You can show your support by purchasing BGE merch that features an adorable avocado girl on a hoodie, T-shirt, and pajama set.
3. Marla Beck: Founder of M-61 Powerful Skincare and Lune + Aster
Marla Beck is best known for her role as the CEO and founder of Bluemercury, the boutique beauty empire she started in 1999 when she wanted to change the way people shopped for beauty supplies when at the time, department stores were the only answer. When Beck opened her first retail store with a beautifully curated selection of top-rated beauty brands, she realized her customers wanted clean, synthetic-free, gluten-free, and vegan products.
About 20 ago, there was a white space in the beauty industry for vegan products. Beck, who is a long-time vegan herself, listened to her customers and started M-61 Skincare, a vegan, gluten-free line of high-quality cosmetic products like creams, peels, masks, and more. With great success, she then started Lune + Aster, a vegan beauty brand that sells everything from mascara to blush. We applaud Beck's success as a full-time mother, entrepreneur, and lifelong vegan who is making a difference in the world of beauty.
4. Chloe Coscarelli: Founder of ByChloe and The Vegan Cafe
Well-known vegan pastry chef and founder of the popular fast-fast chain By Chloe, Chloe Coscarelli recently received some of the best news in her career. Coscarelli opened the doors to By Chloe five years ago in New York City, and since then has been dealing a legal battle when her partner pushed her out of the deal. Recently, Coscarelli announced that she had won her 50 percent of ownership back and is working on finding new partners and talent to add to the team.
While this nightmare was happening, Coscarelli didn't let herself get down: She founded The Vegan Cafe, with its first outpost in Miami, Florida in St. Roch Market, where she created and sold her signature vegan desserts. The cafe was most famous for its vegan rainbow sprinkle cake, as well as the sea salt chocolate chip cookies, and other creative desserts. Due to the closure of restaurants in a pandemic, The Vegan Cafe is unfortunately permanently closed, but Coscarelli looks forward to working at her very first operation again, By Chloe.
5. Rachel Drori: Founder of Daily Harvest
Rachel Drori was a busy marketing executive and mom, who found herself with no time to shop for healthy fruits and veggies, chop them up, and prep all the ingredients required to make a nutrient-rich smoothie every morning. So Drori decided to launch her company, Daily Harvest, to bring customers like herself easy-to-make smoothies, bowls, lattes, bites, and ice cream, all vegan and all ready to eat in a matter of minutes.
Each serving or cup rings in at around $7, so in the pantheon of ever-expanding meal delivery services that have launched since Daily Harvest appeared in 2015, this is an accessible, delicious and nutritious option to keep on hand and pull out of the freezer as needed.
Prior to Daily Harvest, Drori worked marketing roles at The Four Seasons, American Express, and Jetsetter, jobs that gave her the skills to help her brand, sell and grow Daily Harvest before other companies followed her model.
With more than half a million Instagram followers, Dori has so far raised $50 million in funding, a top leader in the category of home-delivery prepared meals. "The company could be worth as much as $500 million," Forbes reported.
6. Amy Quichizand and Mariah Bermeo: Founders of Veggie Mijas
Veggie Mijas is an inclusive community for anyone who wants to get more educated and participate in a plant-based lifestyle with others that have marginalized identities.
"We highlight the importance of having a plant-based lifestyle while also intersecting race, gender identity, class, and sexuality; being brown, Latinx, non-binary, women, queer, genderqueer, coming from a working-class background and having other marginalized identities. We are very passionate about spreading awareness of the lack of resources we have to healthier options in the hood, animal liberation, environmental justice."
Amy Quichizand and Mariah Bermeo build this platform to help and learn from others within the community, and bring people together from a working-class background, intersecting race, gender identities, and social classes. Meaning, “women of color, nonbinary folks of color, femmes of the color collective, queer, and queerness.”
They describe their mission behind Veggie Mijas this way: “We are very passionate about spreading awareness of the lack of resources we have to healthier options in the hood, animal liberation, environmental justice. This is a platform where womxn/folks have shared their families' recipes, their own recipes, and have talked about why being vegan has connected them to their ancestral roots.”
Veggie Mijas puts on events such as potluck dinners, vegan panels, yoga sessions, and more where people can share their experiences of plant-based living, teach each other favorite family recipes, find out what’s happening in their city, and most importantly, connect with others. Due to the pandemic, all events are virtual, and information about when and where to join can be found on their Instagram.
7. Jenny Engel and Heather Bell: Founders of Spork Foods
Spork Foods is a vegan culinary school located in West Hollywood, California. With every class, you make plant-based recipes from various vegan chefs and learn to understand the importance of eating a plant-based diet. You can learn to make vegan artisan cheese from scratch, homemade vegetable burgers, and killer desserts.
The founders are two sisters, Jenny Engel and Heather Bell who started their company over a decade ago to share their love for vegan cooking and help others make healthier decisions. It's been their passion for a long time and they've worked with clients to offer cooking classes to companies like BMW, Cartier, BuzzFeed, Youtube, and more.
Due to the pandemic, classes are online over Zoom and cost $30 per household to join. Now, you can take a class from anywhere without traveling to their LA headquarters.
8. Miyoko Schinner: Founder and CEO of Miyoko's Creamery
Founded by Miyoko Schinner in 2014, Miyoko's Creamery's butter and cheeses are available in about 12,000 stores nationwide including Whole Foods and Target. The entrepreneur's estimated annual revenue is in the $20 million to $50 million range who received an estimated total of $12 million in two funding rounds.
Schinner lived in Tokyo in the 1980s when French gourmet cheeses became a huge trend in Japan, where she grew up. As a "cheese-a-holic," Schinner found herself conflicted by her compassion for animals and her culinary tastes. She eventually figured out how to serve both, creating gourmet-style wheels of garlic herb cheese, chive cheese, and other creamy spreadable nut cheeses out of cashew cream. She just launched a "grilled cheese" cheddar that makes the most realistic melting cheese for making the classic American sandwich. She calls her company "Tomorrow's Creamery."
Miyoko's caught the attention of Ellen Degeneres and other celebrity investors with her European-style dairy-free offerings, like artisan cheese boards, butter, and more. All the cheeses are made with real foods like nuts, legumes, and nutritious plant-based ingredients. They mix modern and innovative products to elevate the plant-based dairy standards to match any made from real cream and have successfully created award-winning cheeses, that we would happily serve as hors d'oeuvres to non-vegans with a nice bottle of Merlot.
You can purchase any of the dairy-free products like cheese, butter, and spreads on the Miykono's website here or check your popular grocery store, since the brand is sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target, Fairway, and Morton Williams. You will find Miyoko's products in the dairy-free section or mixed among the gourmet cheeses (we wonder how many people buy it not even knowing these are made from nuts!).
9. Alexis Fox: Co-Founder of Lighter Nutrition
Lighter is a personalized plant-based meal plan, programed by certified nutritionists, athletes, and experts and customized based on your food preferences and eating habits. You may have seen it and not realized it since the meal plan powers Beyonce's 22-Day Plan and Whole Foods and others. We love it for its recipes, smart nutrition advice, and easy-to-use interface.
Fox worked as the Massachusetts state director for the Humane Society for 5 years before she started Lighter. This Boston-based company received a lift when Fox flew to London in search of financial backing and raised nearly $400,000 to launch her social meal plan software. Soon after, Lighter took off when Fox revised the meal plan and integrated a network of markets, so you can shop for what you need to make each of the recipes. She explains that her platform "combines features of social media, online market places, and software as a service system."
In an interview with Forbes, Fox compares Lighter to "the Pandora of food," since the data collected is used to generate nutritionist-created recipes and meal plans based on consumers' top picks. "When people are deciding they want to eat less meat, they’re often overwhelmed, they feel lost," she adds. Fox was ahead of her time since Lighter has been helping consumers solve these problems since 2015.
10. Marion Hanania: Founder of Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather
A fashion veteran and committed vegan, Marion Hanania left her high profile fashion job to start the retail company Good Guys Don't Wear Leather, a 100 percent vegan and ethical shoe company that was the first vegan shoe company to launch in Paris.
After working as a shoe designer for high-fashion brands Isabel Marant and Duperre in Paris, Hanania decided to align her work with her ethics and left the top-drawer fashion world to launch her own brand. The inspiration behind GGDWL is based on her everyday style and remains true to her ethics. The company says it is cruelty-free, sustainable, and respects good working conditions for everyone.
She launched the first vegan shoe company from France in 2011 with a wide range of styles for men and women and shoes for every season. They have vegan suede heels, platforms, sneakers, sandals, and vegan leather boots.
The entire collection of sneakers, boots, flats, and more are available online and they ship worldwide.