Forbes’ second annual definitive tally of America’s wealthiest, most successful self-made women includes 60 trailblazers – 10 more than last year – who have crashed ceilings through invention and innovation. These women, who are worth a combined $53 billion, have created some of the nation’s best known brands, such as Gap, Spanx, Proactiv and Vera Bradley. A number of them have also helped build some of the most successful companies in tech, including Facebook, eBay and Google, while still others got rich entertaining millions through their music, books or TV shows.
The richest self-made woman in America is Diane Hendricks, who owns ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of roofing and siding in the country. The daughter of dairy farmers, she started the Wisconsin business in 1982 with her late husband Ken. Today Hendricks is worth $4.9 billion, $1.2 billion more than last year when she came in second. That jump also gives her bragging rights as the year’s biggest gainer. She is one of 17 billionaires in the ranks.
Other notable women with 10-figure fortunes include Oprah Winfrey, who moves up three spots to number two, thanks in part to her new ties to Weight Watchers. Since picking up a 10% stake in the diet empire and becoming its spokesperson last October, its stock has gained some 90%. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also got a big boost. Her fortune is now $1.4 billion, up a third from a year ago thanks to the social network’s strong results, making her one of the year’s biggest gainers. Sandberg, who got that job eight years ago, has helped oversee the company’s market capitalization grow by a staggering $328 billion.
The youngest person in the ranks is 26-year-old Taylor Swift, who makes her debut at number 60 with a net worth of $250 million, thanks to her 1989 tour, which grossed a quarter of a billion dollars last year. The only twenty-something in the mix, she is one of 13 newcomers. Among the other notable fresh faces are Carolyn Rafaelian, founder of jewelry brand Alex + Ani; actress-turned-entrepreneur Jessica Alba, whose Honest Company was valued by investors at $1.7 billion last year; and Vera Bradley cofounders Patricia Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard. The pair, who were neighbors and friends, got the idea to make colorful bags while at an airport in Atlanta. They each borrowed $250 from their husbands and got to work in Baekgaard’s basement. Today Vera Bradley sells half a billion dollars worth of bags and other accessories a year.
Altogether 16 of the most successful self-made women made their fortunes in fashion or retail, more than any other sector. Technology was second with 13, but six of those were C-Suite executives hired at technology companies in the early days, meaning only seven founded their businesses.
The year’s biggest percentage gainers are dermatologists Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan, who together created acne treatment Proactiv and launched skin-care company Rodan + Fields. Revenues hit $627 million in 2015, up 90% from the previous year, with more than 150,000 independent consultants peddling products. That in turn helped boost their fortunes 72% in the past year to $550 million apiece.
The pair are also two of 25 list members who reside in California, more than three times the number of women in any other state. New York, home to eight women on the list, is a not-so-close second. Another Californian is newcomer Toni Ko, who sold her cosmetics brand NYX to L’Oreal for $500 million. Born in Korea, she is also one of 16 list members born outside the U.S.
One notable Californian not in the ranks is last year’s top ranking female, Elizabeth Holmes. The biotech entrepreneur drops out altogether after Theranos, the blood testing firm she founded, was hit with allegations that its products didn’t work and is now being investigated by several federal agencies. After speaking to a dozen sources, Forbes concluded that the company, once valued by investors at $9 billion, is worth just $800 million, and that she herself won’t see much of anything anytime soon as investors with preferred shares get their money back first. (For more on Holmes, read Matthew Herper’s story on her demise.)
Source By https://www.forbes.com