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Show Your Support: 5 Top Women-Led Businesses That Are Making Their Mark

Issa Rae at Tribeca Film Festival
Source: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for 2022 Tribeca Festival

Issa Rae attends the Tribeca Festival after-party for “Vengeance” on June 12, 2022 in New York City.

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Jun. 4 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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Black women continue to dominate the entrepreneurial landscape with impressive and record-breaking ventures. Representing 14.8% of all women-owned businesses, Black women are innovating across nearly every industry, from fintech to spirits. Despite the hurdles Black women experience in fundraising and scaling, there’s no slowing down the success of the top women-led businesses. 

According to the 2024 Wells Fargo Impact of Women-Owned Business Report, 2.1 million Black-women-owned businesses represent 52.1% of all Black-owned businesses. Each year since 2019, Black women have continually been the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. From 2022 to 2023, Black women-owned businesses also outpaced growth in employment and revenue compared to all women.

Top women entrepreneurs, such as “Insecure” creator Issa Rae, are diversifying their portfolios across interests. In addition to HOORAE Media, an umbrella production company with film, TV, digital, music, and management divisions, Rae has several other ventures. Sienna Naturals is the serial entrepreneur’s foray into haircare, while Viarae is her latest endeavor, a nod to her love for prosecco. She also backs and co-owns Hilltop Coffee+ Kitchen, a community-driven cafe and creative hub with several Los Angeles locations.  

Whether you’re seeking boss Black woman inspiration or looking for impactful Black women-owned brands to support, here are 5 top women-led businesses to add to your must-follow list.

1. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey

Fawn Weaver speaks on stage during the Honeyland Festival
Source: Marcus Ingram / Getty Images Entertainment

Fawn Weaver speaks on stage during the Honeyland Festival.

Watching (and supporting) the ascension and success of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is inspiring on numerous levels for any dreamer. Since 2017, founder Fawn Weaver has been educating the world on the true origins of Tennessee’s whiskey legacy. Headquartered in Shelbyville, Tenn., the spirit and distillery brand honors the world’s first-known African American master distiller, Nearest Green.

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To call Uncle Nearest an award-winning brand is accurate yet an understatement, having received over 1,000 accolades since its inception. The portfolio has also been the most awarded bourbon and American whiskey every year since 2019. With the recent acquisition of a French vineyard and plans to expand into cognac, Weaver’s vision to build the first spirits conglomerate built by a woman or person of color is just getting started.

2. The Lip Bar

Melissa Butler at the 55th NAACP Image Awards in LA in 2024
Source: Variety via Getty Images

Melissa Butler at the 55th NAACP Image Awards.

The beauty business hasn’t been the same since powerhouse Melissa Butler’s brand, The Lip Bar, entered the chat. The 100% vegan, cruelty-free brand grew from its early days of vibrant lipstick shades into a wide-ranging makeup collection. For more than a decade, Butler has been committed to making beauty more inclusive. 

According to a report by ESSENCE, The Lip Bar has grown from earning $27,000 in its first year to $15 million in 2024. Now, with an award-winning, complexion-friendly line, TLB products are available in more than 2,000 stores nationwide. Not only is it the largest Black-owned makeup company in Target, but it also sells in Walmart, CVS, and Amazon.com. For the flagship store experience, you’ll have to visit Downtown Detroit, where Butler is from.

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3. Black Girl Sunscreen

Miki Barber, Karen Civil, Shontay Lundy, April Ross, and Nneka Ogwumike attend Brunchin' with BGS (USC x Black Girl Sunscreen) at USC Colich Track and Field Center in 2023 in Los Angeles
Source: Natasha Campos/Getty Images for Black Girl Sunscreen

Miki Barber, Karen Civil, Shontay Lundy, April Ross, and Nneka Ogwumike attend Brunchin’ with BGS (USC x Black Girl Sunscreen) at USC Colich Track and Field Center on Sept. 24, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Practicing safe sun care is important, even for the most fortified melanin-rich skin. Black Girl Sunscreen makes Black people everywhere feel seen, with its unique formula made for people of color. According to its website, founder Shontay Lundy started the company in 2016 to educate and protect melanin beauties worldwide. Lundy solved an ongoing challenge for those with darker complexions–the white residue of traditional sunscreen lotions. 

What started as a simple yet industry-shaking 30 SPF lotion has grown into a variety of products—from SPF lip glosses to kids’ sprays and limited-edition holiday variations. Black Girl Sunscreen is available at several major retailers, including CVS, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Ulta Beauty. Several U.S.-based and international online sites, including BLK + GRN and Rich Skxn, also sell the brand.

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4. Slutty Vegan

Pinky Cole attends the opening of the new 'Slutty Vegan' Restaurant i Harlem on March 07, 2023 in New York City.
Source: Rob Kim / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Pinky Cole attends the opening of the new ‘Slutty Vegan’ Restaurant in Harlem on March 07, 2023 in New York City.

Slutty Vegan is the creation of serial entrepreneur Aisha “Pinky” Cole Hayes. The vivacious American restaurateur started Slutty Vegan in 2018, inspired by her plant-based lifestyle and struggle to find good vegan options in Atlanta. What started in a shared kitchen now includes 12 locations across four states. Slutty Vegan’s provocative yet entertaining menu items — the One Night Stand™ burger or the Sloppy Toppy™ – make the food experience fun. With a loyal fanbase and highly engaged founder, it’s no wonder why new Slutty Vegan locations continue to draw long lines and anticipation as it has from the start. 

According to a CNBC Make It estimate, Slutty Vegan made between $10 million and $14 million in revenue in 2021. New locations are also in the works in D.C. and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Invested in helping other entrepreneurs climb and grow, there’s no telling what Cole Hayes has up her sleeve next.

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5. McBride Sisters Wine Company

Robin McBride and Andréa McBride attend Honeyland Festival Day 1, holding a SHE CAN Fund donation check
Source: Bob Levey / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

Robin McBride and Andréa McBride attend Honeyland Festival Day 1

Real-life sisters Robin McBride and Andréa McBride John connected for the first time in 1999 after growing up miles apart in Monterey, Calif., and Aotearoa, New Zealand. The sisters eventually landed in the vineyards, having iconic wine-growing, agriculture, and farming regions as the backdrop for their childhoods.

After a few other ventures, Robin and Andréa launched Black Girl Magic Wines at the 2018 Essence Festival in New Orleans. A year later, they launched a wine-in-a-can brand, SHE CAN Wines, and an artisanal reserve wine collection in 2021. The pair purchased M Ranch Estate, a historic vineyard in Napa Valley, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2023.

With global connections and a zest for uncorking untapped potential in the industry, it’s easy to see why the McBride Sisters company is the largest Black-owned and largest all-women-founded wine company in the United States.

These top women-led businesses surpass preexisting bars and show how cultures and societies win when inclusion is authentic. While shaking up their industries and forging new paths for others, these businesses and their leaders are present-day history makers inspiring the next wave of women leaders.

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By: Simone Cherí

Simone Cherí is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer and contributing editor based in the Washington D.C. area. With more than 25 countries under her belt (and counting) and over a decade of storytelling for brands, she aims to highlight culturally relevant and engaging narratives across luxury travel, adventure, and BIPOC experiences around the world. Her byline has been published on Travel Noire and Home & Texture, with previous features in Condé Nast Traveler, HuffPost, and Essence. When she's not collaborating with brands or exploring new countries, Simone is feverishly seeking the next destination for a nomad adventure.

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