From wine and card games, to jewelry and wellness, we’re excited to feature four female entrepreneurs who have inspired us by taking amazing products to market, all while operating with integrity, creativity, and an ability to imagine what’s possible. Starting a business can oftentimes feel like an uphill battle, but these women prove that the risk is worth the reward.
Caplanis invented SOCIAL sparkling wine sake after her heroic battle with thyroid cancer. After first being diagnosed, she made the calculated choice to treat the cancer with a more holistic approach. In addition to going full vegan, Caplanis eliminated all sugar and alcohol from her diet. Two years later her cancer was in remission. With a new lease on life, she was committed to continuing her clean way of living. She soon discovered that unfortunately, there were next to no alcoholic beverages that fit her dietary needs.
It was then that Caplanis came to the realization that this was an opportunity to fill a void that millions of vegans and clean eaters were struggling with. After looking at every type of high vibe alcohol (drinks that induce a euphoric feeling after being consumed), Caplanis came to the conclusion that the cleanest base would be sake, a rice alcohol. Without the gluten or sugar of other products, a sake base provides the desired effect of elevating the mood through lowering inhibitions, while at the same time fitting the most strict of diets.
In 2014 SOCIAL was officially launched, and has since donated over $300,000 of its profits to various grassroots organizations focused on community building and empowerment. The charitable aspect of SOCIAL stems from Caplanis’ humble upbringing. Raised on food stamps for 13 years of her life, Caplanis’ mother scraped by making barely $35,000 to support an entire household.
Leah Caplanis’ ability to think outside the box created a new space for individuals with strict dieting parameters to be able to safely enjoy a drink. Her innovation and strategy has undoubtedly paid off as SOCIAL has swiftly become a top selling sparkling wine in the beverage space. Caplanis is currently developing new products. If the first six years of her business are any indicator, it’s only going to add value to a market that desperately needs her voice.
Ester Delug first launched Little Rooms in 2007, essentially because no one else was making the jewelry or accessories that she wanted to wear. Delug grew up obsessed with UFOs, horror movies, true crime, and the occult. She was more interested in things that go bump in the night, than run of the mill hoop earrings and birthstone necklaces. If there wasn’t a vast variety of UFO rings or hydra chokers available, Delug was bound and determined to change that.
To say Delug carved out a niche for her jewelry would be an understatement. She committed to her eccentrically brilliant vision before this vibe was in. Thirteen years later there’s not only a market for her jewelry, but a whole underground society of oddity obsessed fashionistas that can’t get enough of it. Even more impressive, she still operates as a direct to consumer business, handcrafts all of her pieces in a studio in LA, and selling primarily through her online store.
Delug’s jewelry has been featured in many magazines and garnered a huge following on pinterest and etsy. Her pieces have graced the fingers and necks of celebrities such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus. We’re inspired by Ester Delug for her unique point of view and her commitment to an aesthetic that’s out of this world. Keep watch on this one.
Koreen Odiney wanted to create a card game that not only produced a good time, but meaningful conversations that build deeper connections. A minimalist deck of cards in a small red box, We’re Not Really Strangers may seem simple, but this incredible game has swept the globe, garnering an instagram following of over 1.7 million.
Odiney’s enjoyment of creating connections with strangers was a bi-product of Odiney’s background as a photographer. As Odiney shared with Vogue, “I was doing photography and interviewing people for many years asking them these questions, but I didn’t have a name for it… I loved the art form and [knowing] how to ask the right questions to create connections.”
Odiney was inspired to create the game after having a conversation with a stranger who was reading poetry on the street. He told her that someday she would write a book We’re Not Really Strangers, from there Odiney developed the 3 round card game, where everyone wins by strengthening their bonds or creating new ones.
Founder and CEO of sexual wellness juggernaut brand, Unbound Babes, Polly Rodriguez discovered her calling after her battle with cancer that resulted in early onset menopause. Rodriguez wanted to bring a fresh coat of paint to the then seedy world of sex toys and products, but had no idea where to begin. Her prayers were answered in 2014 when she met her cofounder, Sarah Jayne, through a women in tech group. Rodriguez spoke on their instant connection in an interview with Forbes, “As two midwesterners with big dreams, we hit it off immediately. She had been working on a quarterly subscription box on nights and weekends with some friends who were no longer actively working on the business. We decided to team up to create a direct-to-consumer brand that would be the online destination we wished we had when we bought our first vibrators, lubricants, condoms, or accessories.”
The brand didn’t come without its own set of challenges. It was very hard for the new company to get investors. Rodriguez recalls sitting down and meticulously crafting thoughtful emails, asking potential investors for just thirty minutes of their time. Only to be ignored or met with blunt responses like “this will never work”. Eventually, after three years and a few small private investments, Unbound received its first venture capital check. Rodriguez is unabashed at the struggle it took to get there, “I try to always be as transparent as possible about how difficult it was financially in the early years because it was brutal and I don’t think many founders talk openly about the financial struggle starting a business puts on you. I was in credit card debt and on Medicaid by the time we finally closed the seed round.”
After six years of testing the market through the trial and error of over two thousand products, Unbound has settled on fifty trademark products that ship out to devout customers monthly. In 2019 they hit profitability, and with their social following growing exponentially each quarter, as well as a huge spike in subscribers from pandemic times, this ingenious team of resilient women is shaping the sexual wellness market in big ways. We’re so happy to see Unbound grow in leaps in bounds, for the good of Rodriguez, Jayne, and quite honestly, all womankind.