These are exciting times in the fashion and beauty industries. From the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and influencer marketing, new technologies are continually changing the fashion landscape. Brands, retailers, and agencies are now feeling pressure to stay ahead of the game.
But who are the game changers and disrupters? While women only make 25 % of senior level positions in fashion, their impact is unquestionably high. We’re continuing our annual tradition on International Women’s day by celebrating visionary and daring female entrepreneurs and leaders in the fashion, luxury and cosmetics industries. These women are responsible for the major shift in the perception that technology can only be male-driven. They’ve applied and used technology to drive change, to be this change – and to be inspiring role models for millions of young girls.
The ways in which women are seen leading the change are different but have a common trait: they question established structures and roles, and of prioritize financial and social independence, for themselves and the companies they started, very often from scratch.
10 Powerful Women Who Inspire
1.) Anita Tillmann
Take for example Anita Tillmann, co-founder and managing partner of PREMIUM, the biannual international trade show in Europe. When she started in Berlin in 2003, fashion professionals warned that it would be crazy to launch this fair in the German capital normally known for music and nightlife. Time proved them wrong – today PREMIUM attracts over 70,000 visitors who come to see around 1,500 collections, ranging from men’s and womenswear to accessories and cosmetics brands. Anita was also the driving force behind the #FashionTech initiative at PREMIUM, a conference that connects fashion with the tech and the startup industry. Anita believes in supporting and networking, especially among women, and is an advocate of fighting to bring Berlin more visibility and recognition as a fashion capital.
2.) Leyla Piedayesh
Leyla Piedayesh is a long-time member of Anita’s fashion family. Her label Lala Berlin is now in its 15th year running; she started with a small selection of knitwear and expanded quickly to a brand that has gained recognition far beyond Germany’s borders. A few seasons ago, the Iran-born German-raised designer took her show to Copenhagen and proudly displayed a sign stating “I am an immigrant!”, making a clear political statement and asserting herself as an outspoken female fashion leader.
3.) Mira Duma
Politics is a familiar domain for Mira (Miroslava) Duma. From a Russian It girl to a conscious consumption advocate, she merged her views on fashion in general, and on technology in particular in order to connect fashion and science. With her new Future Tech Lab initiative, Duma is among leading women who inspire — a long-awaited champion changing the face of the fashion industry and investing in sustainable production and alternative ways of textile manufacturing.
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“Climate change isn’t just hurting the planet, it’s a public health emergency. Each one of us has the moral responsibility to do the absolute best that we can.” -Christiana Figures @cfigueres is spearheading Mission 2020, a shared global campaign to drive urgent action to limit the effects of climate change, particularly for the most vulnerable people and countries. As the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres has worked towards fairer, and more transparent global climate change negotiations including the 2015 Paris Agreement. @unitednations
4.) Caroline Scheufele
For many years, sustainability has been a core value at Swiss-based Chopard. The family-run business successfully kept the balance between traditional design while incorporating new “green gold” principles having a positive impact on consumer perceptions and on our planet. The jewelry house is also dedicated to transparency and allowing consumers to help drive design on its journey to sustainable luxury. Chopard’s co-president and artistic director, Caroline Scheufele, pushed the company’s long awaited and now publicly known decision to use only Fairmined gold as well as traceable routes for gems. She is also the force behind “Green Carpet” collection representing commitment to meaningful luxury items.
5.) Sung-Joo Kim
Mixing luxury and street style was an idea that Sung-Joo Kim, the owner and managing partner of the accessories label MCM, had to fight for. Never would a customer accept a unisex backpack as a luxury item, marketing people told her. The trained sociologist went to Japan to prove her point and collected there the first feedback from street style savvy shoppers. Now, it is Germany where her concepts are being pioneered for the store-slash-art-gallery called ‘1976 Berlin‘.
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6.) Jeanne Zizi Margot de Kroon
Born in the Netherlands and calling Berlin her home for now, Jeanne Zizi Margot de Kroon hit the zeitgeist in 2016 when she founded Zazi Vintage, a luxury fashion label with a focus on sustainability and women’s economic and social independence.
Working with both vintage and organic materials, Zazi Vintage creates new pieces in partnership with women and artisans in Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, India and Afghanistan. Current collections are produced with small families and women-empowering NGOs, such as the Institute for Philanthropy and Humanitarian Development (IPHD India).
Jeanne wants to “create a bridge between our customers and artisans across the globe”. We’ll surely hear more about this young woman in the coming years.
7.) Negin Mirsalehi
Amsterdam-based Negin Mirsalehi has been listed among European 2018 30 under 30 by Forbes. Her hair-care brand, Gisou, generates reported yearly sales of $3 million. All thanks to… beekeeping. Mirsalehi comes from six generations of a family of beekeepers, and she has tapped into that history to build a connection with her followers and conceptualize her brand. Gisou draws on ingredients from her father’s bee gardens — including honey and propolis — and her hairstylist mother’s DIY hair-care recipes, placing an emphasis on using natural ingredients.
8.) Jenny Fleiss
The next generation of fashion girls are redefining the fashion business, bringing high-end designer pieces to every woman out there. When successful female entrepreneur Jenny Fleiss co-founded Rent the Runway, she may not have been thinking of Uber, but the idea was quite similar – based on a sharing economy, why buy when you can borrow for a sweet price and save your wallet and the planet. Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway was recently named by CNBC as the ninth most disruptive company in the world, right alongside Uber, Airbnb, and SpaceX.
The entrepreneurial spirit would not stop there for Jenny, she is now launching an exciting new platform Jetblack, a members-only personal shopping and concierge service, a combination of classical e-commerce service and the customized attention of a personal assistant.
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9.) Lauren Santo Domingo
Lauren Santo Domingo created Moda Operandi, which is unlike any other upmarket fashion website. It requires customers to pay 50 per cent of their purchase price months ahead of receiving the product. MO gives customers a degree of power that was previously the preserve of professional store buyers and stylists, and allows them to see the entire catwalk show and order whatever they please, including what used to be called “catwalk-only” pieces – outfits that were made for dramatic visual impact, rather than real ready-to-wear pieces.
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10.) Tina Mueller
Real life requests is what Tina Mueller, CEO of Douglas, the largest beauty store chain in Germany, is dealing with on a daily basis. An active supporter of women in leadership, Tina introduced #FORWARDBEAUTY, the new technology-driven and disruptive digital strategy for a traditional concern. Tina is the co-author of two books: “Why Products Flop” and “It’s Never Too Late to Stay Young”; she shares her insights in several publications such as manager magazine and Handelsblatt. She calls herself “a true innovator at heart – always seeking novel, better and more efficient ways to solve problems and share new visions.”
Zum #Weltkrebstag eine Herzensangelegenheit: #Douglas unterstützt bereits seit 10 Jahren @DKMSLIFE mit #LookGoodFeelBetter Kosmetikseminaren. Schönheit und Wohlbefinden sind eng verbunden und können zu neuer Lebensfreude beitragen. Macht mit und seid #LIFEsupporter! pic.twitter.com/P4jQWnWJ6E
— Tina Mueller (@TMuellerDouglas) February 4, 2019
To celebrate International Women’s Day and learn more about game changing women who inspire in fashion, see our report on the the top 50 leading women here.