Fashion held its own in terms of women’s entrepreneurship, according to a new study by the Center for an Urban Future.
In the decade from 2002 to 2012, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 65 percent or 45 new ones each day, adding more than 56,000 jobs and $3 billion in payroll to the city’s economy. As of 2012, there were 413,899 women-owned firms in New York City, compared with 305,198 five years earlier. Today, women-owned businesses make up more than 40 percent of private companies in the city, up from 33 percent five years ago and 32 percent a decade ago, according to CUF’s “Breaking Through: Harnessing the Economic Potential of Women’s Entrepreneurs.”
The report repeatedly underscores the influence of women in business. Compared with other major U.S. cities, New York, by far, has more women-owned businesses and more than double second-placed Los Angeles with 192,358. The ranks of women entrepreneurs here are growing slower and delivering less economic impact than sister businesses in other cities.
According to the report, women created 102 of the 130 start-ups fostered by the Design Entrepreneurs NYC accelerator program since 2012. In addition, women started the majority of the 10 companies in CFDA Incubator’s 2014-16 class. At the New York Fashion Tech Lab, at least half the companies were started by women such as Smartzer’s chief executive officer Karoline Gross. Sixty-nine percent of companies participating in the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation have a female founder. (To date, the Incubator has helped launch more than 30 new companies in fashion and product design, social entrepreneurship and other areas.)
Sarah LaFleur of the online store MM.LaFleur; Rachel Shechtman of the West Chelsea boutique Story; Jodie and Danielle Snyder of accessories label Dannijo, and Holly Dale Sherman of the foul-weather footwear company GoGoGolosh are among the female-run upstarts thriving in New York. BaubleBar and Birchbox are also referenced in the report.
Kathryn Minshew, cofounder of The Muse, an online career advice company with 75 full-time staffers, describes in the report how after starting her company in New York in 2011 she temporarily relocated to the Bay Area after an investor urged her to do so. After an eight-month stint on the West Coast, she moved The Muse back to New York in the fall of 2012. Minshew says, “I felt New York had more of a community of women entrepreneurs helping each other, and more industry diversity, including areas where women held positions of power, like media and fashion. It’s a more support ecosystem for women entrepreneurs whereas the tech community in the Bay Area feels more homogeneous.”