Amid the constant bombardment of success stories and headlines proclaiming billion-dollar evaluations, it’s easy to forget that many of the world’s most successful businesses began life as little more than a passion for a particular hobby.
Budding female entrepreneurs are often unsure whether they have what it takes to turn their hobbies into businesses. But they should draw inspiration from the thousands of successful women that have gone before them.
Women’s History Month, a thirty-one-day period dedicated to commemorating women’s contributions to society, begins on the first of March. In this post, we’re going to tell the stories of seven women that turned their hobbies into thriving, meaningful businesses, many of which are now worth millions or even billions of dollars.
1. Marie Forleo – Marie Forleo International
Through her company Marie Forleo International, Marie Forleo has been responsible for creating what she calls a “socially conscious digital empire that touches millions”. She hosts MarieTV, sells a range of training programs and has penned a New York Times bestselling book.
She realised that her passion for a myriad of seemingly unrelated hobbies – writing, hip-hop, psychology, entrepreneurship, spirituality, fitness and more – was actually her greatest strength. And she leveraged her multi-faceted skill-set to help others become what she calls, “multi-passionate entrepreneurs”.
Her company is now worth several million dollars, and she has worked with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson.
2. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner – Making Sense of Cents
Making Sense of Cents is one of the web’s leading personal finance blogs. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner leveraged her passion for finance to build a following of over 300,000 readers, paying off her student loan debt of $38,000 and building recurring revenues of $100,000 per month in the process. Her business generates revenue through a mix of online courses, affiliate sales and advertising.
What is striking about Michelle’s story is that she grew her company from the ground up with very little outside help, working as a solopreneur while also finding time to travel across the US in an RV with her partner. She’s since moved on from that adventure and is currently living on a sailboat.
3. Alicia Shaffer – Three Bird Nest
Alicia Shaffer founded the clothing and apparel company Three Bird Nest when she began to sell handmade headbands and accessories on Etsy. Her passion for bohemian fashion inspired her to build one of the platform’s most successful stores and she was at one point Etsy’s top seller, with sales in excess of $60,000 per month.
Since then, she has moved away from the site and launched her own independent store. She continues to pursue her mission to “inspire creativity in every customer” and “deliver quality, curated fashionable apparel, jewellery and accessories online to customers worldwide”.
4. Stella McCartney – Stella McCartney Ltd.
Stella McCartney was interested in designing clothes from a young age. She designed her first jacket age 13 and at 16 interned for couture designer Christian Lacroix. After graduating from Central St Martins in 1995 and starting her self-titled company, Stella McCartney has become one of the most recognised and successful names in the fashion world, with a net worth nearing $100 million. Her brand is notable for its bold design and use of vegetarian, ethically-sourced materials.
Today, Stella McCartney’s product portfolio encompasses various clothing lines for women, men and children, including swimwear, lingerie, sportswear and perfume. Her products are sold across independently
–owned boutiques and department stores in many of the world’s major cities, including London, Paris and New York, as well as via an e-commerce store that ships to over a hundred countries.
5. Katie Blomquist – Going Places
Katie Blomquist is the founder and executive director of Going Places, a non-profit organisation with a simple mission: to bring joy to the lives of underprivileged children.
Katie’s journey began when she was working as an elementary school teacher. After learning that one of her six-year-old students called Jawan had never owned a bike, she started a successful GoFundMe campaign to buy all 650 students in her school bikes.
She eventually left the teaching profession to start Going Places and now works full time for her charity, which continues to “bring joy to children in need” through various programs and fundraising initiatives.
6. Debbi Fields – Mrs. Fields Original Cookies Inc.
Debbi Fields turned her passion for baking into one of America’s most successful and well-known baking franchises, Mrs. Fields’ Original Cookies Inc. Talking about the inspiration for
to starting her company, Mrs. Fields said: “I could hear my father’s voice telling me that wealth was doing what you loved, and what I loved was cookies”.
Her first bakery, Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chippery, became a quick success. And after franchising her brand, she sold the business to an investment firm, agreeing to stay on board as its spokeswoman. Today, Mrs. Fields is a $450 million company with over four thousand employees.
7. Oprah Winfrey – Harpo Productions
Oprah Winfrey, who consistently ranks as one of the world’s most admired women, is among the most successful business people in history. She is also the wealthiest living African American woman.
She turned her passion for helping and educating others into a global, multi-billion dollar business, and heads an array of projects through her company, Harpo Productions. And her interests and hobbies have acted as the inspiration for many initiatives in her business. Her love of reading, for example, gave her the impetus to start Oprah’s Book Club.
Oprah Winfrey’s life hasn’t always been defined by such success, however. For large portions of her life, she faced economic problems, racism, loneliness, sexual abuse and many other hardships. Her personal story is a testament to the combined power of perseverance, tenacity and well-cultivated business acumen.
Do You Want to Turn Your Hobby Into a Successful Business?
Have the stories of the successful female entrepreneurs in this post inspired you?
If you are excited by the prospect of a career in business, perhaps at the head of your own passion-inspired company, then a degree from EU Business School will provide you with all the skills and experience you need to succeed.
We offer a range of courses, including a Master in Innovation & Entrepreneurship and our highly respected selection of MBAs.