My new novel, Stay Sweet, takes place at a local, beloved ice cream stand which is owned and staffed completely by young women. During a particular summer, my main character, Amelia, becomes the manager of the stand and she—for a series of spoiler-y reasons I won’t dare share in this essay—struggles to do her job effectively.
While writing the book, I did a deep-dive researching female entrepreneurs for inspiration. Lucky for me, there are so many cool ladies out there running the show. Here are just a few of my favorites.
JENI BRITTON BAUER – Jeni’s Ice Cream
Hats off to Jeni, the founder of ice cream juggernaut Jeni’s Ice Cream, a multi-million-dollar business she created by herself back in 2002, when Jeni abruptly left college to open her first stand inside a Farmer’s Market in Ohio. That’s exactly what it is for her—a passion—and her love comes through loud and clear when she speaks about her business. I can tell you from experience that Jeni’s ice cream is some of the best I’ve ever tasted, with quality ingredients and inventive flavor combinations. My favorite is the same as Jeni’s—lemon buttermilk frozen yogurt.
JOY CHO – Oh Joy!
Joy Cho is the queen of the Oh Joy! empire—a lifestyle brand that produces home goods, stationary, and clothing. But back in the day? Oh Joy! was simply her blog. A graphic designer by trade, her cheerful designs and stylish sensibility got her noticed. Joy now employs a host of designers and makers, and every single one is female!
JEN GOTCH – Ban.do
Like the cooler old sister you wish you had, Jen Gotch has her finger on the pulse of everything that is girl-positive, fashionable and fun. In the beginning, she launched her business selling accessories, and I was an early customer, buying an awesome pair of red pompom shoe clips that I still rock to this day! Now her online shop is my first destination when I need a cool t-shirt, phone case or something sparkly.
TAVI GEVINSEN – ROOKIE MAG
Feminist, fashion icon, author, actress…what can’t Tavi do? But of all her pursuits, I’m most in awe of Rookie Mag—an online magazine for young people to connect and create and discuss their lives in an authentic way. It’s the first site I click on in the morning.
SANDRA ZHAO AND ASHLEIGH GERSH MILLER – ZURI
Remember in Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, the magical jeans that looked amazing on every girl, despite their body type? Well, Zuri is the dress version of that story, and it’s not the work of fiction! Sandra and Ashleigh met while living in Nariobe and bonded over a simple, brightly colored shift Sandra has designed and commissioned from a local tailor. With fabric ethically sourced across Africa, you can feel good about treating yourself to one of these beautiful dresses (I own three).