March is Women’s History Month, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate the women-owned businesses that are innovating across the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. The supplier diversity movement within CPG has pushed and supported women-owned companies, and in recent years we’ve seen a rise in the number of businesses that have achieved the women-owned certification.
Achieving a women-owned certification can help increase a brand’s visibility, enabling them to compete with larger, more established brands. These certifications also provide access to an array of unique networking and educational opportunities geared toward women, as well as lead generation on companies interested in working with diverse brands.
Retailers are also recognizing that women-owned businesses are a key part of creating a diverse and well-rounded inventory that will meet the needs of shoppers. Retailers like Target, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Macy’s are sponsoring a Women Owned in Retail Event at the end of the month, along with upcoming retail sessions throughout the year to help women-owned businesses learn more about supplier diversity within their companies.
Women-owned businesses are gaining momentum
As supplier diversity demand grows, brands understand that being a women-owned business is not without its challenges. Access to financing is a common hurdle for women-owned businesses to cross. Simply breaking into traditionally male-dominated categories has been a challenge for many as well.
But that hasn’t stopped women-owned businesses from making strides—and gaining momentum.
“Historically, most large consumer brands have been owned by conglomerates,” adds Heather Roberts of Mom Bombs, makers of natural, luxury bath products, with 100 percent of the company’s profits going to help moms in crisis. “While they have an efficiency of scale, many times the ethos of the brand origin gets lost in the many permutations that come with large scale management. Women-owned brands are giving retailers the chance to reconnect with the values and mission that resonates with the more educated consumer of today.”
Lara Morgan, owner of Scentered, makers of aromatherapy products, notes that there has long been an imbalance in investments access for women-owned and minority-owned companies, and the recent rise in interest in these companies brings much-needed awareness and a better chance for success. “It is difficult to find a balance but ultimately the idea in such a competitive sector that meritocracy works is simply not true,” Lara says. “I would also urge women owners to get out there and be more persistent.”
Savvy brands also understand that leveraging their status as women-owned can help them get noticed by retailers and ultimately help them grow their business while simultaneously making it easier for consumers to shop their values. Applying for the designation of women-owned alone allowed Mom Bombs to compete with larger opportunities that they might not have had access to before, Roberts notes.
Swoon, makers of zero-sugar lemonades and teas, recognizes that consumers want to know who they’re supporting with their dollars, which is why they make it known that the company is both a women-owned and mom-owned business. Retailers, says Swoon’s Jennifer Ross, are similarly looking to stock their shelves with newer brands from different backgrounds, including women owned.
“Retailers have the power to lift female founders up and bring success to a new guard of entrepreneurship,” says Ross.
Scentered’s Morgan says that she underlines the need for a better spread of investment, with reports showing that companies are more stable when they have a solid mix of diversity, and uses that fact to her company’s advantage with potential customers. “I leverage the fact that we are female also in the factual and authentic story that women are still recognized to be the jugglers, those that have in the past been expected to balance children, work, elderly, and that is how Scentered can help with daily transitions.
RangeMe helps women-owned businesses break into retail
For many women-owned suppliers, RangeMe has helped them connect with retailers and grow their business to new levels.
“RangeMe is one of the most crucial tools that we use,” says Roberts of Mom Bombs. “They have women-centric events, speakers, and always call me when there is an opportunity for my brand.”
Scentered’s Morgan says that the accessibility, education, and leveling of the playing field that RangeMe provides to decision makers has helped their brand, “represent ourselves internationally faster to a broader audience.”
The rapid growth that RangeMe can help brands achieve is essential, especially when retailers are actively looking for women-owned brands for their product mix. “Outreach that used to take weeks of cold calling is made so much more efficient with RangeMe,” says Swoon’s Ross.
Women supporting women
Despite its challenges, running a successful women-owned business has also come with its surprises—good ones.
“Going into launching Swoon, we didn’t realize how powerful joining the ranks of a woman owned business was,” says Ross. “While there’s still so much room for growth and reiteration, we’re living in an exciting era for female founders supporting each other’s businesses, relying on one another for support, and learning together. We’ve made some excellent relationships with other female founders and everyone continues to be very supportive and collaborative.”
Mom Bombs’ Roberts notes that having the women-owned designation helped open doors for her. “There are so many support systems for women today, and I find women are so willing to share success stories and contacts that the resources are voluminous,” she says.
For Morgan, it was the willingness of men to discuss the need for more awareness of mental wellbeing issues in all ages, she says. “Perhaps the sad impact of COVID has helped all ages and stages in life be more aware of the horrid reality that we see rising rates of stress, damaging attitudes to sleep routines and the uplift in conversations where people want natural, high impact and immediate portable solutions,” she notes.
Though March may be the official month to celebrate women, it’s clear that appreciation for women-owned businesses is not slowing down, and their presence in CPG will continue to grow all year long.
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